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Brown Noddy

Anous stolidus

Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 32 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Dark brownish overall with white forehead, grayish back of neck and face

Brown Noddy - Anous stolidusThe Brown Noddy is a tern species of the tropics, with a distribution that stretches across both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.  In the North American part of their range, they are most known for a breeding colony at Dry Tortugas in Florida.  They are the largest and most widespread of the three Noddy species.

Habitat: Worldwide, Brown Noddys are found over tropical oceans.  They nest on tropical islands, but in most seasons, are often far out at sea.  They are rarely found in sight of the mainland continents.

Diet: Feeds on small fish.

Behavior: Forages by dipping down from flight to capture fish at or just belowthe surface.  They will also plunge-dive underwater for short distances in pursuit of fish. 

Nesting: In the North American part of its range, the nest is typically built in a cactus or cedar tree, and consists of a stick platform with seawood or pebbles as lining.  Nesting birds often return to the same nest year after year, with nests building in size each successive year.  Both the male and female will help to incubate the eggs.  Both parent feed and tend to the young after they hatch.

Song: Brown Noddys have a variety of calls, most of which are harsh grunts or wheezes.

Migration: The Brown Noddy has an extremely wide distribution globally, found in much of the tropics of both the Eastern and Western Hemisphere.  Their movements within that range are poorly understood, including movements in and around the United States.  Breeding populations in the tropics are often present in all seasons.  For populations in the subtropics, birds disperse after the breeding season.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map for Brown Noddy sightings

Similar Species: Similar shape to many tern species, but most likely to be confused with the Black Noddy.

Conservation Status: Populations appear to be stable, and they are found over a wide geographic range. The IUCN lists the Brown Noddy as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdLife International - Brown Noddy

2) Audubon Guide - Brown Noddy

3) Fish and WIldlife Service - Brown Noddy

Photo Information: Photo taken by Joanne Goldby - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Brown Noddy - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Brown Noddy Photos (coming soon!)