The lesser noddy (Anous tenuirostris) is a small, tropical tern species with dark plumage and a long, slender black bill.The wings of this seabird are long, narrow and pointed, and its tail is wedge shaped. The adult lesser noddy is largely blackish-brown, with a whitish forehead and crown that shade to a grey-brown neck and cheeks.Its legs and feet are brownish-black.The male and female lesser noddy are similar in appearance, but the juvenile is paler brown than the adult.
This species is largely sedentary and remains at its breeding colonies throughout the year, although it may also forage extensively out to sea and regularly occurs off the coast of East Africa during the non-breeding season. It breeds from August to October in large colonies of up to tens of thousands of pairs and also forages in vast flocks during this season. When not breeding it remains gregarious and is usually observed in groups of up to 45 individuals , often within larger flocks of Brown Noddy Anous stolidus. The species breeds and roosts in mangroves on oceanic coral-limestone islands with shallow lagoons, gullies, sink holes and salt-lakes, and may also occur on shingle or sandy beaches. It largely forages in inshore seas and reefs surrounding these breeding islands during the non-breeding season although it may also forage extensively out to sea.
The diet of the lesser noddy consists mainly of small fish and squid,, and this species hunts by flying low over the sea before hovering and dipping down to pick prey from the surface of the water. Before breeding, adult lesser noddies also eat large quantities of coral fragments from beaches, presumably as a source of calcium for producing eggs.
The lesser noddy breeds and roosts in mangroves on oceanic islands (providing seaweed as nesting material), and can also sometimes be seen resting on shingle or sandy beaches.This bird usually breeds between August and October, often coming together in large breeding colonies in which nests are densely packed together. In some areas, egg laying may continue into early December, or even extend to the following April.The nest of the lesser noddy is built in a tall mangrove tree, or occasionally in a bush, and consists of a bulky platform of seaweed held together with excrement.The female lesser noddy lays a single egg which is incubated for about 34 to 35 days.The young lesser noddy fledges at about 40 days old, and individuals are likely to start breeding from about 3 to 4 years old.
All the species of oceanic birds are protected in the Maldives. (A protected bird in Maldives since 11th July 1999)
Maldivian tuna fishermen (using both pole and line and handlines) rely heavily
on seabirds (lesser noddy:locally known as "kurangi") to locate free swimming tuna schools or those associated with drifting objects.