Hawaiian Black Noddy

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Hawaiian Name: noiʻo
Common Name: Hawaiian Black Noddy
Scientific Name: Anous minutus melanogenys

Size: 15 inches (38 cm)

Habitat: Oceania; throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, including all islands of NWHI and the coastal cliffs and offshore islets of MHI. Outside of Hawai‘i, noio (black noddy) breed on islands throughout the world’s tropical oceans. Noio (black noddy) typically remain near (within 80 kilometers [50 miles]) their breeding colonies year-round.

Status: Least concern. Global Population: 2,000,000-3,000,000 mature individuals. In Hawai‘i, population estimated at 12,000 breeding pairs with the largest populations occurring on Midway Atoll (6,000 pairs) and Nihoa (5,000 pairs). All sites in NWHI are free of rats and cats, however the MHI support large populations of non-native mammalian predators and like all seabirds, adults and nests are susceptible to predation by rats (Rattus spp.), and feral cats (Felis silvestris). Also ‘Iwa or great frigatebirds (Fregata minor), Laysan Finches (Telespiza cantans), and shorebirds will depredate eggs and chicks. Kayak and zodiac tours of sea caves used for nest sites can result in adults flushing from nests, resulting in predation by native birds. And because noi’o (black noddy) rely on predatory fish to drive prey to the surface, overfishing may eventually affect Hawaiian populations.

Diet: Primarily takes juvenile goatfish, lizardfish, herring, flying fish, and gobies. Often forages in large, mixed species flocks associated with schools of large predatory fishes which drive prey species to the surface. Noi’o generally forage in near shore waters and feeds mainly by dipping the surface from the wing or by making shallow dives.

Nesting: Individuals have slender wings, a wedge-shaped tail, and black bill which is slightly decurved. Adult males and females are sooty black with a white cap and have reddish brown legs and feet; bill droops slightly.

These birds make nests in caves, or rocky ledges of sea cliffs in late spring. Usually, Noi’o nest together as a colony. The females lay only one egg each year. They can often be seen hunting fish near their nesting sites. Established pairs return to the same nest site year after year. Breeding is highly variable and egg laying occurs year-round. Both parents incubate the single egg, as well as brooding and feeding the chick. Birds first breed at two to three years of age, and the oldest known individual was 25 years old.

Cool Facts: Noi’o are unusual because they are endemic coastal birds that reside in Hawai‘i year round, while most of Hawaiian sea birds spend winters in Hawai’i, and leave in summer to breed in the arctic. Their cousins, Noi’o Koha, or Brown Noddys, nest on the ground, and because of this have not survived on the main islands, where they have been wiped out by predators.

Seven noi’o (black noddy) subspecies are generally recognized, and two are resident in Hawai‘i: A. s. melanogenys (MHI) and A. s. marcusi (NWHI).

Flight is swift with rapid wing beats and usually direct and low over the ocean; this species almost never soars high.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hawai'i

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