Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Blue Noddy (Anous ceruleus)


French: Noddi bleu German: Blaunoddi Spanish: Tiñosa azulada
Other common names: Blue-grey Noddy (when lumped with A. albivitta)

Sterna Cerulea

F. D. Bennett

, 1840,

Kiritimati (Christmas Island), Pacific Ocean


Genetic data suggest that both species formerly placed in Procelsterna should be included in genus Anous#R. Closely related to A. albivitta, with which often considered conspecific, but significant differences in size and coloration (see below); the two are sometimes incorrectly treated as pale and dark morphs of a single species; some authors have claimed that races skottsbergii and imitatrix of A. albivitta belong to present species, but specimen evidence refutes this. Internal taxonomy confused at present, with much overlap of forms, e.g. birds from Society Is significantly darker than those from Tuamotu Is and may not be referable to same race; validity of races and their distributions require careful systematic revision based on known breeding specimens, but these are lacking from various parts of the species’ range. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. saxatilis W. K. Fisher, 1903 – Marcus I (Minami Tori-shima) and N Marshall Is E to NW Hawaiian Is.
  • A. c. ceruleus (F. D. Bennett, 1840) – Kiritimati (Christmas I), in Line Is, and also Marquesas Is.
  • A. c. nebouxi Mathews, 1912 – Tuvalu (Ellice Is) E to Phoenix Is and S to Fiji and Samoa.
  • A. c. teretirostris (Lafresnaye, 1841) – Tuamotu Is, and provisionally this race in Cook, Austral and Society Is.
  • A. c. murphyi Mougin & de Naurois, 1981 – Gambier Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–28 cm; 41–69 g (average 45·4 g, but non-breeders significantly lighter); wingspan 46–60 cm. Distinctive pale noddy, with relatively short, slender... read more


    Generally quiet. Can produce a soft purring sound.


    Tropical oceanic islands. Breeds on cliffs or rocky areas. Forages over lagoons and inshore waters. read more

    Food and feeding

    Has narrowest gape of any tern, and takes tiniest fish (average length 17 mm; mainly larval Synodontidae, Exocoetidae, Mullidae, Bothidae... read more


    In Hawaii reported to breed throughout year, with laying peak Feb–Mar, few nests in May, Aug and Nov, hence probably an asynchronous... read more


    Not known. Usually remains close to breeding colonies.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population unknown but censuses over a small part of its range have recorded at least 30,000 pairs and the overall total may... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gochfeld, M., Burger, J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Blue Noddy (Anous ceruleus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).