The Golden Bosun Bird
A Dazzling Display of Plumage
The Golden Bosun Bird (Phaethon lepturus fulvus) is a beautiful seabird that possesses an exquisite and vibrant plumage. With its golden-yellow colour and long trailing tail this bird is a true spectacle to behold. Its elegant appearance and distinct coloration set it apart from other avian species in the region and make it a sought-after sight for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.
Golden Bosun Controversey
At the species level, the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) is also known as the Golden or White-tailed Bosunbird, the Yellow-billed Tropicbird, the Longtail and the Marlin-spike. There is some controversy around the categorisation of the Indian Ocean populations of White-tailed Tropicbirds. The population has traditionally been divided into two subspecies: lepturus, which breeds on many islands throughout the Indian Ocean, but not on Christmas Island; and fulvus, which breeds only on Christmas Island, all year round. The Christmas Island Golden Bosun birds (Phaethon lepturus fulvus) were designated as a separate subspecies on the basis of their unique, golden coloured plumage, however as these birds can travel long distances and their habitat is conserved and protected as a result these birds mate freely with other birds in their species and there are many variations in the way these seabirds now look which make them difficult to tell appart. Some may have a hint of gold, whilst others, like this one are a stricking golden colour! They are often listed simply as “White-tailed Tropicbirds (Golden)”.
Where can I see the Golden Bosun?
Regardless of their classifications, spotting one of these beautiful Golden Bosun Birds is a treat! The species feeds over warm waters of low salinity close to Christmas Island, but also disperse as far as the continental shelf off northern Western Australia.
Good vantage points for them are right from your balcony of Swell Lodge, or from the Margaret Knoll Walk or the Gold Course Lookout on Christmas island.