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Birds of Palmyra Atoll

Named for its greatly elongated tail streamers, which are bold red in color, the red-tailed tropicbird is a rare but graceful sight at Palmyra. Photo © LJG Images

Between 1993 and 2002 the population of ground-nesting sooty terns dropped from an estimated 750,000 nests to around 140,000. Now that rats have been removed from the atoll, their numbers are rebounding. Photo © TNC

A migratory winter visitor from Alaska, the wandering tattler can usually be found along the shoreline, around blocks of coral, and on the concrete remains of World War II bunkers at Palmyra. Photo © Wikipedia

Palmyra is home to the world’s second largest nesting colony of red-footed boobies, with a total population estimated at around 6,250 pairs. Photo © Rory Stansbury/Island Conservation

One of three species of boobies found on the atoll, brown boobies nest and roost on the ground and regularly forage in Palmyra’s lagoons. Photo © Kydd Pollock

The largest seabirds in the booby family, masked boobies feed primarily on small fish and squid and are spectacular divers, plunging diagonally into off-shore waters from as high as 100 feet. Photo © Kydd Pollock

Palmyra shelters approximately 20,000 black noodies, the largest nesting colony in the central Pacific. Photo © Rory Stansbury/Island Conservation

The great frigatebird is found throughout the Pacific and is often seen at Palmyra perched on high tree branches. Males are smaller than females and inflate their red throat pouches to attract a mate. Photo © Kydd Pollock

Angelic and curious, white terns are small seabirds that nest in trees. Like ground-nesting sooty terns, their numbers are expected to increase now that rats have been removed from the atoll. Photo © Cynthia Beckwith

The Pacific golden plover nests and raises its young in Alaska’s Arctic tundra. But come September, just as its plumage turns from black and white to gold and brown, this hardy little shorebird flies non-stop to Palmyra and other Pacific islands. Photo ©

Calico in color with a short bill and bright reddish-orange legs, the ruddy turnstone migrates from the Arctic Circle to Palmyra, where its preferred winter habitat is the atoll’s sheltered coastlines. Photo © Wikimedia Commons

The bristle-thighed curlew is another seasonal visitor from Alaska, easily recognized by its lengthy down-curved bill. More than 200 curlews, whose worldwide population is estimated at only 6,000 individuals, winter in Palmyra. Photo © Rory Stansbury/Island Conservation

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