Posted by: glennandert | 31-August-2008

Red Tail Turn

I was privileged to be able to see some Red Tail Turns at a Bird Sanctuary at Aitutaki Island in The Cook Islands. The sanctuary is off limits, unless you go with a guided tour. You get to stop at some stunning scenery on this tour.

The Red Tail Turn is a beautiful white bird with a really long tail made from a single/double feather. In the old times, the feathers were prized for use in ceremonial dressing. A few of the birds are held on a regular basis by the bird handler, are so are used to being held. This is one of the cruisers holding the bird:

Here is a mother turn sitting on her eggs in the bush.

And here is a little munchkin:

Here is a satellite view of Aitutaki. You can see the location of the bird santuary. There is also a tiny little motu with a “post office”. You can take your passport there and have it stamped by the Autitaki Post Office. Why? Because nobody else will have such a stamp? Or because you can have a nice drink while you are waiting?

I had to anchor ‘Learjet’ outside the pass because the depth in the pass is less than 2 meters and ‘Learjet’ draws near 3 meters. You can get a nice view of the pass in this image:

The pass was made during WWII with a bit of dynamite by those industrious Americans. Too bad they didn’t use just a wee bit more dynamite. I would have loved to been able to park inside! The channel itself is also a bit tricky, even if your draft allows you in. It can have quite a current. And there is no turning around once you get into the channel. A lot of boats send somebody in with a dinghy first to sound the waters and make sure they understand all the subtleties before venturing in on the yacht!



  1. When I first saw the title for this entry I thought it might be referring to some embarrassing moment you experienced in which you turned tail, red as a beet.

    Then I discovered it was about the Red Tail Tern. Still interesting, nonetheless.

  2. Hi,

    Nice pics. The bird with the red beak is a Red-tailed tropic bird. Just to let you know. I’m not sure what kind of tern or other bird is depicted in the first photo, but I would mention that people should probably not handle these animals in the wild (if that was a wild specimen).

    No criticism intended, just FYI.

    All the best,
    Kit Herring

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