Noio Kōhā

Noio Kōhā

wepbage header of brown noddy


  • ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi: Noio Kōhā
  • Common: Brown Noddy
  • Scientific: Anous stolidus


Conservation Status

  • State recognized as Indigenous
  • NatureServe Heritage Rank G5 – Secure
  • North American Waterbird Conservation Plan – Not currently at risk
  • Regional Seabird Conservation Plan – USFWS 2005

Species Information

The noio kōhā or brown noddy is a medium-sized, abundant tern (Family: Laridae) that lives in tropical regions of both hemispheres, and is very similar to noio (black noddy) in appearance and behavior. Five subspecies of noio kōhā (brown noddy) are recognized, and one (A. s. pileatus) is resident in Hawai‘i. Individuals have slender wings and a wedge-shaped tail. Adult males and females are dark brown with a white cap and have a black bill, legs, and feet; males are larger than females. Flight is swift with rapid wing beats and usually direct and low over the ocean, this species almost never soars high. Often forages in large, hunting parties made of several species associated with schools of large predatory fishes which drive prey species to the surface. Noio kōhā (brown noddy) generally forage in nearshore waters and mainly feed by dipping the surface from the wing or by making shallow dives. In Hawai‘i, diet is comprised mostly of fish, but squid are also taken. Breed in large, dense colonies and nest on the ground, on cliffs or in trees. In Hawai‘i, breeding is synchronous with peaks occurring in the spring and summer. Pairs stay together throughout the year, but there is little information on the length of pair bonds. Both parents incubate the single egg, and brood and feed chick. Birds first breed at three to seven years of age, and the oldest known individual was 25 years old.


Noio kōhā (brown noddy) breed throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, including all islands of NWHI and the offshore islets of MHI. Outside of Hawai‘i, noio kōhā (brown noddy) breed on island in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Noio kōhā (brown noddy) typically remain near (within 100 kilometers [62 miles]) their breeding colonies year round.


Terrestrial: Noio kōhā (brown noddy) breed on small islands or islets, both on low-lying coralline sand islands and high volcanic islands and use a wide variety of nesting locations, including the ground, trees, shrubs, cliffs and human-made structures. In Hawai‘i, nests are predominantly located on open ground or under vegetation, or on human-made structures. Marine: Nearshore waters.


  • Introduced predators. Like all seabirds, adults and nests are susceptible to predation by rats (Rattus spp.), and feral cats (Felis silvestris). All sites in NWHI are free of rats and cats.
  • Native predators. ‘Iwa or great figatebirds (Fregata minor), ‘auku‘u or black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), and Laysan (Telespiza cantans) and Nihoa (T. ultima) finches will depredate eggs and chicks, especially when adults are flushed from nests by human disturbance.
  • Overfishing. Because noio kōhā (brown noddy) rely on predatory fish to drive prey to the surface, overfishing may eventually affect Hawaiian populations.

Plans & Projects 

Additional Resources 

For more information and references visit the DLNR State Wildlife Action Plan factsheets. DOFAWʻs species pages and State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets are provided for general information and are not meant to be a citable, original source of data. If you are a student, researcher, or writer looking for a citable source, please explore the references below or find other original data sources, rather than citing these webpages. The references below were provided by the authors of the State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets at the time of drafting:

  • Chardine JW, Morris RD. 1996. Brown noddy (Anous stolidus). In The Birds of North America, No. 220 (Poole A, Gill F, editors.). Philadelphia, (PA): The Academy of Natural Sciences; and Washington DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union.
  • Kushlan JA, et al. 2002. Waterbird Conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, Version 1 Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, Washington, DC. 78pp. Available at:
  • NatureServe. 2003. Downloadable animal data sets. NatureServe Central Databases. Available at: (March 10, 2005).
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Regional seabird conservation plan, Pacific Region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, Pacific Region. Portland, (OR): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.