French Polynesia

Atoll Fruit-dove Ptilinopus coralensis ©Sebastien Palud Website
Birding French Polynesia

French Polynesia is a French overseas collectivity in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory (Papeete).

It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres. French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago, composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands; the Tuamotu Archipelago; the Gambier Islands; the Marquesas Islands; and the Austral Islands. Only 67 of the 118 islands and atolls are inhabited. Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, is the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the collectivity, Papeete. It has almost 70% of the population of the islands (2017). The island groups are:Austral IslandsBass Islands (often considered part of the Austral Islands)Gambier Islands (often considered part of the Tuamotu Archipelago)Marquesas IslandsSociety Islands (including Tahiti)Tuamotu ArchipelagoAside from Tahiti, some other important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are: Ahe, Bora Bora, Hiva ‘Oa, Huahine, Maiao, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Tahaa, Tetiaroa, Tubuai, and Tupai.There are relatively few bird species (122), the majority of which are seabirds with just 31 fully terrestrial species, most of which (27) are endemic.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 122 (31 Terrestrial Species)

  • Number of endemics: 27

    Blue Lorikeet Vini peruviana - Lori nonette vini
    Ultramarine Lorikeet, Vini ultramarina - Lori des Marquises, pihiti
    Tahiti Swiftlet Aerodramus leucophaeus - Salangane de la Société, 'ope'a
    Marquesas Swiftlet Aerodramus ocistus - Salangane des Marquises, kopekapeka, kope'a
    Chattering Kingfisher Halcyon tuta - Martin-chasseur de Polynésie, ruro
    Tuamotu Kingfisher Halcyon gambieri - Martin-chasseur de Niau, kote'ute'u
    Marquesan Kingfisher Halcyon godeffroyi - Martin-chasseur des Marquises, Pahi
    Tahiti Kingfisher Halcyon venerata - Martin-chasseur vénéré, Ruro
    Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra - Monarque de Tahiti, 'omama'o
    Iphis Monarch Pomarea iphis - Monarque pie
    Marquesan Monarch Pomarea mendozae - Monarque marquisien, koma'o, pa
    Fatuhiva Monarch, Pomarea whitneyi - Monarque de Fatu-Hiva
    Tahiti Reed-warbler Acrocephalus caffer - Fauvette à long bec, `otatare, manu ofe, kotiotio
    Marquesas Reed-warbler Acrocephalus mendanae - Fauvette des Marquises, Komako
    Rimatara Reed-warbler Acrocephalus rimatarae - Fauvette de Rimatara, oromao
    Murphy's Petrel rodroma ultima - Pétrel de Murphy, e'upo
    Otu Sandpiper Prosobonia cancellata - Bécasseau polynésien, titi
    Polynesian Ground-dove Gallicolumba erythroptera - Gallicolombe érythroptère, u'uaira'o, tutururu
    Marquesas Ground-dove Gallicolumba rubescens - Gallicolombe des Marquises
    Gray-green Fruit-dove Ptilinopus purpuratus - Ptilope de la Société, 'u'upa
    Atoll Fruit-dove Ptilinopus coralensis - Ptilope des Tuamotu, o'o
    Makatea Fruit-dove Ptilinopus chalcurus - Ptilope de Makatea, 'u'upa
    White-capped Fruit-dove Ptilinopus dupetithouarsii - Ptilope de Dupetit-Thouars, kuku
    Rapa Fruit-dove Ptilinopus huttoni - Ptilope de Hutton, koko
    Polynesian Pigeon Ducula aurorae - Carpophage du Pacifique, rupe
    Nuku Hiva Pigeon Ducula galeata - Carpophage des Marquises, upe
    Kuhl's Lorikeet Vini kuhlii - Lori de Kuhl, 'ura
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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  • Polynesian Ornithological Society

    aka MANU - meaning 'bird' in the Tahitian language
Trip Reports
  • 2010 [07 July] - Scott Bowers

    For the solar eclipse of July 11, 2010, we had intended to visit Easter Island. However, extremely poor service from LAN Chile Airlines prompted us to change our plans to visit French Polynesia instead…
  • 2011 [07 July] - Petri Hottola - Tahiti

    PDF Report
    …Tahiti is the gateway to French Polynesia and has five endemic bird species to look for: Grey-green Fruit-Dove, Tahiti Kingfisher, Tahiti Swiftlet, Tahiti Reed Warbler and the critically endangered Tahiti Monarch. The few Chattering Kingfishers are very difficult to locate….
  • 2014 [04 April] - Keith Millar

    PDF Report
    ... We saw only 57 species, plus three mammals, three reptiles, two butterflies, a dragonfly and one freshwater fish. But that list does include eight of the world’s rarest birds, found in some of the most beautiful islands on earth. In visiting this remote part of the South Pacific you will help directly in supporting the conservation of these species. As visiting birdwatchers - a rarity in itself - you will almost automatically raise local awareness...
  • 2016 [01 January] - Barry Cooper

    PDF Report
    This is approximately our tenth seabirdoriented voyage on a commercial cruise ship. We have learned that these large vessels offer many opportunities for the serious seabirder. Not the least of which is a completely stable platform from which one can comfortably use one’s scopes, covered decks in wet weather, and a vast array of possible routes.
Other Links
  • List of birds of French Polynesia

    This is a list of the bird species recorded in French Polynesia. The avifauna of French Polynesia include a total of 154 species, of which 42 are endemic, 14 have been introduced. Of these, 35 species are globally threatened.

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