The White-capped Noddy, also known as the Black Noddy (Anous minutus), is a medium-sized tern and similar to the Common Noddy. The White-capped Noddy is more blackish brown in colour with a darker underwing, a thinner bill, a greyer and shorter tail and in particular a more contrasting white cap to the Common Noddy.

White-capped Noddy, also known as the Black Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman
White-capped Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman

When we visited Lady Elliot Island, we saw that it is home to 100,000 Noddies (although I was prepared to estimate over 1 million but more knowledgeable minds prevailed). They are in every tree and most branches. Apparently there can be 500,000 on the island during nesting season. The resort on Lady Elliot Island provides ear plugs because they are noisy little brutes… all night. The island was mined for guano in the mid 1800s which did some extensive damage to the ecology but re-vegetation has restored much of the popularity with sea birds.

Author Marc Newman
White-capped Noddy, also known as the Black Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman
White-capped Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman

The genus name Anous comes from the ancient Greek for “stupid” or “foolish”. The species name minutus is the Latin for “small”.

White-capped Noddy, also known as the Black Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman
White-capped Noddy (Anous minutus), Lady Elliot Island © Marc Newman

Their distribution in Australia and nearby regions is particularly concentrated along the eastern side of Australia (see map distribution in Atlas of Living Australia below), and in particular on many of the islands off the east coast of Australia.

Lady Elliot Island is the southernmost coral cay of the Australian Great Barrier Reef. The island covers an area of approximately 45 hectares and is part of the Capricorn and Bunker Group of islands.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Informal: Gnathostomata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Laridae
  • Subfamily: Sterninae
  • Tribe: Anoini
  • Genus: Anous
  • Species: Anous minutus Boie, 1844
  • Subspecies: Anous minutus minutus Boie, 1844

Footnote & References

  1. Photographs © Marc Newman, Flickr, https://flickr.com/photos/koolbee/albums
  2. Anous minutus Boie, 1844, Black Noddy, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:bd14c0ba-b63e-4692-a5de-f1daef16b8ef

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