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(also Phaëthontidae; tropic birds), a family of birds of the order Steganopodes. The body measures 30–45 cm in length, not including a long pair of middle tail feathers, which extend beyond the body. The bird has very short legs and moves on land with difficulty. The wings are long and pointed. The plumage is white or orange-pink, with black spots or crossbars. The family comprises three species, which are distributed in the subtropical and tropical zones of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. The birds live in colonies on islands, nesting on steep cliffs; some live on flat areas. The female lays a single speckled egg, which is incubated 41 to 45 days. The diet consists of fish, squid, and crustaceans. When not nesting, the Phaetontidae fly about over the open seas.