State recognized as Indigenous
NatureServe Heritage Rank G5 – Secure
North American Waterbird Conservation Plan – Moderate concern
Regional Seabird Conservation Plan – USFWS 2005
The noio or black noddy is a medium-sized, abundant, and gregarious tern (Family: Laridae) with a pantropical distribution. Seven noio (black noddy) subspecies are generally recognized, and two are resident in Hawai‘i: A. s. melanogenys (MHI) and A. s. marcusi (NWHI). Individuals have slender wings, a wedge-shaped tail, and black bill which is slightly decurved. Adult males and females are sooty black with a white cap and have reddish brown legs and feet; bill droops slightly. Flight is swift with rapid wing beats and usually direct and low over the ocean; this species almost never soars high.
Distribution & Abundance
Often forages in large, mixed-species flocks associated with schools of large predatory fishes which drive prey species to the surface. Noio (black noddy) generally forage in nearshore waters and feeds mainly by dipping the surface from the wing or by making shallow dives. Opportunistic, in Hawai‘i, noio (black noddy) primarily takes juvenile goatfish, lizardfish, herring, flyingfish, and gobies.
Noio (black noddy) breed throughout the worldʻs tropical oceans including the Hawaiian Archipelago--all islands of NWHI and the coastal cliffs and offshore islets of MHI. Noio (black noddy) typically remain near their breeding colonies year-round. Established pairs return to the same nest site year after year. Breeding is highly variable and egg laying occurs year-round and nest in large, dense colonies that include non-breeding juvenile birds. Both parents incubate the single egg, and brood and feed chick. Birds first breed at two to three years of age, and the oldest known individual was 25 years old.
Location & Habitat
Noio (black noddy) breed on oceanic and offshore islands, both on low-lying coralline sand islands and high volcanic islands. In Hawai‘i, noio (black noddy) place their nests on ledges and in crevices of coastal cliffs, in sea caves, and on shoreline shrubs like naupaka.