SOLD Red Billed Tropic Bird



Phaethon aethereus  also known as the Boatswain Bird, and among BVIslanders as the Whelk Catcher

These large majestic seabirds are often seen as I have shown them, soaring along by island cliffs. They are most comfortable in flight, being poor swimmers and barely able to move on land, where they have to use their paddle-shaped feet to push themselves along on their bellies. They build no nests, but swoop to lay a single egg directly among the rocky ledges, or sometimes on the ground.  They fly out to sea to find squid, fish, and their favorite flying fish, plunging down to catch their prey and quickly coming up to rest for a few moments on the surface with both long tail feathers raised high before flying off again.

I have painted this pair flying off the south-western cliffs of little Pelican, an uninhabited island known as a fine diving site. Pelican is situated in the southwestern corner of the British Virgin Islands, just north of Norman Island, southwest of Peter Island and east of Flanagan Island. The rocky cliffs of this island fall steeply into the sea, making it a popular nesting site for the Tropic Birds, which are also known to nest in the similar cliffs of West Dog.

These are home-loving birds and can be found in the vicinity of their breeding localities all year long.