• Scientific Name: Gygis alba (Sparrman, 1786)
  • Polynesian Name: Itatae, itata’e, ita’eat’e, irara’e, pira’e tea, pira’-tea, pira’e, ita’e (Société), kirarahu, kirahu (Tuamotu), kotake (Mangareva), kota’e, kotake, otae (Marquises), take take(Rapa), aaia (Tubuai), a’ahia (Rimatara)
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Famille : Laridae
  • CategorySeabirds
  • Location: Polynesia, Hawaii, Micronesia, Fidji

Appearance and identification

12 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. All-white bird with a forked tail and pointed wings. The beak is straight and pointed, its base is blue on 1/3 of the length. Large black eyes. Its end is black. The flight is fluttering. These birds tend to fly over the visitors who approach their nesting site.

Video

Voice

Characteristics

Society, Austral, Tuamotu, Marquesas (Eiao Hatutaa, Mohotani, Fatu Huku) but also Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji and the whole of Polynesia.

Never builds a nest. Lays one egg on small branches. Egg’s size are around 41 x 30 mm. Its colour is very changeable. The tones change from white to buff with blackish-brown and grey with various shapes. This egg is incubated for 36 days and the young fly off the nest after 60-75 days, less the Tuamotu (48 days). The species breeds throughout the year, from August to June Gambier.

Nests isolated or in colony of coral islands, the coast of the large islands or several kilometres inland.

« Koui-koui-koui-koui » high-pitched and repeated frequently by individuals flying over colonies or nesting areas.

Fish from 3 to 10 cm, cephalopods, sometimes it captures insects by diving. They hunt alone or in small groups.

Location

Society, Austral, Tuamotu, Marquesas (Eiao Hatutaa, Mohotani, Fatu Huku) but also Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji and the whole of Polynesia.

Breeding

Never builds a nest. Lays one egg on small branches. Egg’s size are around 41 x 30 mm. Its colour is very changeable. The tones change from white to buff with blackish-brown and grey with various shapes. This egg is incubated for 36 days and the young fly off the nest after 60-75 days, less the Tuamotu (48 days). The species breeds throughout the year, from August to June Gambier.

Habitat

Nests isolated or in colony of coral islands, the coast of the large islands or several kilometres inland.

Voice

« Koui-koui-koui-koui » high-pitched and repeated frequently by individuals flying over colonies or nesting areas.

Food

Fish from 3 to 10 cm, cephalopods, sometimes it captures insects by diving. They hunt alone or in small groups.

Status and protection

The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.