Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Blue Noddy (Procelsterna cerulea)


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

Sterna Cerulea

F. D. Bennett

, 1840,

Kiritimati (Christmas Island), Pacific Ocean


DNA data suggest that Procelsterna cerulea and P. albivitta are embedded within the dark noddies and hence should be included in the genus Anous#R.

Closely related to P. 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 P. 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
  • P. c. saxatilis W. K. Fisher, 1903 – Marcus I (Minami Tori-shima) and N Marshall Is E to NW Hawaiian Is.
  • P. c. cerulea (F. D. Bennett, 1840) – Kiritimati (Christmas I), in Line Is, and also Marquesas Is.
  • P. c. nebouxi Mathews, 1912 – Tuvalu (Ellice Is) E to Phoenix Is and S to Fiji and Samoa.
  • P. c. teretirostris (Lafresnaye, 1841) – Tuamotu Is, and provisionally this race in Cook, Austral and Society Is.
  • P. 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 remains unknown but censuses in a small part of the range have found at least 30,000 pairs and the overall total... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gochfeld, M., Burger, J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2018). Blue Noddy (Procelsterna cerulea). 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 17 November 2018).