Lord Howe Island - Noddy 2
Common Noddy
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Lari
Family: Laridae
Subfamily: Anoinae
Bonaparte, 1854
Genus: Anous
(Stephens, 1826)

Procelsterna (Lafresnaye, 1842)

Noddies are members of the larid subfamily Anoinae in the genera Anous. They are a tropical group, characterised by the notch-wedge shaped (not forked) tail; coastal and pelagic oceanic. Studies of mtDNA sequences (Bridge, 2005) have shown that the noddies are at least 2 groups that split off early from the ancestral terns at different points of time; the relationships of Procelsterna were not researched for lack of samples. It seems to represent either a third lineage linking the noddies and the marsh terns, or is closely related to Gygis.


Cibois et al. found that Procelsterna is embedded in Anous.[1]

Noddy phylogeny

Brown Noddy

Black Noddy

Lesser Noddy

Blue-grey Noddy / Blue Noddy

Grey Noddy

Based on Cibois et al. (2016).[1]

This genus forms part of the Laridae group (gulls, terns and skimming birds).[2]


Genus Anous

These birds are dark-plumaged terns which inhabit tropical oceans.[3] They nest in colonies.[4]

The female lays one egg in each breeding season.[5]

These birds feed on small fish, which they catch by plunge diving.


Anous is Greek for "stupid" or "unmindful" (Harrison, 1990; see also nous); stolidus means "impassive" in Latin.[6] These birds are often unwary and were well known to sailors for their apparent indifference to hunters or predators. They find safety in enormous numbers.[7]


  1. ^ a b Cibois, A., J,-C, Thibault, G, Rocamora, and E. Pasquet (2016), Molecular phylogeny and systematics of Blue and Grey Noddies (Procelsterna), Ibis (forthcoming).
  2. ^ [1] TOLWEB, Anous page
  3. ^ Noddies are tropical seabirds with worldwide distribution, ranging from Hawaii to the Tuamotu Archipelago and Australia in the Pacific Ocean, from the Red Sea to the Seychelles and Australia in the Indian Ocean and in the Caribbean to Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic Ocean (TOLWEB)
  4. ^ They usually nest on cliffs or in short trees or shrubs, seldom on the ground.
  5. ^ TOLWEB
  6. ^ [2] Brown Noddy or Common Noddy, Avian Web
  7. ^ Avian Web
  • Peter Harrison, Seabirds, an Identification Guide (1983) ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
  • Olsen and Larsson, Terns of Europe and North America ISBN 0-7136-4056-1
  • Bridge, E. S.; Jones, A. W. & Baker, A. J. (2005): A phylogenetic framework for the terns (Sternini) inferred from mtDNA sequences: implications for taxonomy and plumage evolution. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35: 459–469. PDF fulltext
  • Harrison, C.S. (1990): Seabirds of Hawaii, Natural History and Conservation. Comstock: Cornell ISBN 0-8014-2449-6


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