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About 11 birders, who were on a pelagic survey through Mangaluru Coast, have sighted a red-billed tropicbird. The sighting is significant for the Karnataka Coast as it is for the first time during a pelagic expedition the bird has been spotted. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, founder, Ramit Singal, Manipal Birders Club said the bird was spotted about 15 KM off Mangaluru Coast during the survey of the Coastal Bird Watchers’ Network on Dec 30.
In the past, we had come across this bird, but those were ones that were often rescued, this is for the first time that it is being sighted in the wild and this is a significant development,” he said. The red-billed tropic bird, resembling a tern in appearance, has mostly white plumage with some black markings on the wings and back, a black mask and red bill. Most adults have tail streamers that are about two times their body length. The red-billed tropicbird can reach speeds of 44 km per hour when flying out, cruising a minimum of 30 m above the sea. It cannot stand and is not proficient at walking, and requires an unobstructed takeoff to fly. Ramit said, “They have been known to breed in Lakshadweep and feed on fish. The one we saw was probably a young bird. The species dives into the water to catch fish. They have an elaborate courtship ritual, they have a flight dance and there is a courtship display, he said. The team has spotted about 14 species of sea birds. “This is indeed a good number considering that this is not the peak season,” he said.
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