Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Grey Noddy (Procelsterna albivitta)


French: Noddi gris German: Graunoddi Spanish: Tiñosa gris

Procelsterna albivitta


, 1856,

Lord Howe Island


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

Temperate and subtropical counterpart of tropical P. cerulea, to which it is closely related; sometimes considered conspecific, but has white vs grey head, hindneck, underwing and underparts (3); paler grey upperparts (1); longer bill, toes and notably wings (effect size 4.02, score 2). Although this score reaches only 6, the near-”parapatric” arrangement of populations across the Pacific Ocean roughly at the Tropic of Capricorn, in combination with the different size, is highly suggestive of a distinct ecology (putative score 1), and species status is considered appropriate. Some authors have claimed that races of SE Pacific belong to P. cerulea, but specimen evidence refutes this. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. albivitta Bonaparte, 1856 – Lord Howe I, Norfolk I, New Zealand (islands off NW & N North I#R, Kermadec Is) and Tonga.
  • P. a. skottsbergii Lönnberg, 1921 – Henderson I (in Pitcairns), Easter I and Sala y Gómez I (off N Chile).
  • P. a. imitatrix Mathews, 1912 – San Ambrosio and San Félix (Desventuradas Is), off N Chile.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–31 cm; wingspan 46–60 cm. Small, relatively long-legged noddy, with grey back, darker grey wings and tail, and pale greyish to whitish head and underparts;... read more


    Around breeding colonies, utters noisy plaintive screams, “kraarr”, which are quite low-pitched,... read more


    Temperate and subtropical oceanic islands. Breeding birds occur around coasts of rocky islands,... read more

    Food and feeding

    At Desaventurados Is (Chile) takes tiny crustaceans, and also fish and squid; small crustaceans at Kermadec Is and Lord Howe I. Feeds by... read more


    August–November in SW Pacific (nominate race). At Easter Island race skottsbergii reported present during December–... read more


    Non-migratory; disperses around breeding colony, but rarely reaches continental waters. Uncommon... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Its status is not at all well known and the species is possibly rare. The total population is not known but is probably under 25... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gochfeld, M., Burger, J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2018). Grey Noddy (Procelsterna albivitta). 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 20 October 2018).