Thousands of red tailed tropicbirds and red footed boobies (above left and right) nest on the island, which is one of the most important sea bird breeding grounds in the Pacific region. Feathers from the tropicbird are gathered for traditional costumes. Terns, noddies and frigatebirds are also found in large numbers. The kota or great frigatebird (centre) that nests there has become an unofficial emblem for the Cook Islands.
No doubt the birds have thrived because Takutea is the only island in the Cooks never to have had a permanent population. Even when some of Captain Cook's crew went ashore over 230 years ago, there was no evidence of a permanent settlement, although they found some empty huts.