The Red-Tailed Tropic Bird

On one of our last days of research on the motus of Aitutaki, the sandy beach crew sampled the motu of Maina.  To our surprise, this motu turned out to be a nesting site for red-tailed tropic birds (Phaethon rubricauda) and we were sampling during breeding season.  Like other seabird species, tropic birds make very simple nests called scrapes.  These scrapes are just small depressions on the back beach made by parents scraping the sand away.  I was able to get close to a few nests without disturbing the birds and took some great pictures.  It was nice to see the beginning of life take place for these beautiful birds in such a wonderful place.  This seemed a nice symbol for our overall trip; this research trip could be the beginning of our lives as naturalists helping out different parts of the world.

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