Noddy (tern)

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Starr 990519-0824 Casuarina equisetifolia.jpg
Common noddy
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Sternidae

Noddies are members of the tern family Sternidae in the genera Anous, Procelsterna, and Gygis. 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.

Genus Anous

Genus Procelsterna

Genus Gygis

Noddies are reportedly a dietary staple on the island of Nauru.


  • 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