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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  • Societe d'Ornithologie de Polynesie - Manu

    Societe d'Ornithologie de Polynesie Manu BP 21 098, Papeete, Tahiti FRENCH POLYNESIA. + 689 42 6808; - Polynesia's terrestrial avifauna consists of some thirty species. This relatively low number, however, masks a high rate of endemism. Only Reef Heron, Spotless Crake and Grey Duck have a large distribution throughout the South Pacific. The rest are only found in French Polynesia…

Abbreviations Key

  • Marine Protected Areas

    WebpageSatellite View
    Since 1971, French Polynesia, according to its local jurisdiction, has been setting up marine protected areas with multiple goals (protected areas, PGEM marine area management plan) but also regulated fishing areas which contribute to a better marine area management.
Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2008 [09 September] - Mark Finn - Tahiti, New Calednonia & Fiji

    This was the first Birdwatching Breaks tour of the South Pacific taking in the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, New Caledonia, Lifou and the two Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Taveuni. During the tour we recorded 128 species. We started by visiting Tahiti where we quickly located all the remaining endemic birds including the globally-threatened Tahiti Monarch and Tahiti Reed Warbler…
  • 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...
  • 2014 [10 October] - Derek Scott

    PDF Report
    ...As was to be expected, the friendly and inquisitive Tuamotu Sandpipers on Tenararo Atoll were voted the most popular bird of the trip, but the cute little Henderson Crakes on Henderson, the amazingly confiding Polynesian Ground Doves on Tenararo and the colourful Ultramarine Lorikeets on Ua Huka in the Marquesas were also much admired. Other great birds included Murphy’s, Juan Fernandez, Kermadec, Herald, Henderson, Phoenix and Tahiti Petrels, White-bellied and Polynesian Storm Petrels, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Blue and Grey Noddies, Grey-green, Atoll, White-capped and Henderson Fruit Doves, Marquesan Imperial Pigeon, Pacific Long-tailed Cuckoo, Tahiti and Marquesan Swiftlets, Society and Marquesan Kingfishers, Kuhl’s and Stephen’s Lorikeets, and Tahiti, Iphis and Fatu Hiva Monarchs...
  • 2014 [11 November] - Chris Collins

    PDF Report
    ...The star bird was surely the endearing Tuamotu Sandpiper and we were privileged to see thischarismatic species on Tenararo and Morane Islands. Although it is believed that the worldpopulation is about 1,300 birds which are found across just five atolls, we saw good numberson both islands....
  • 2015 [10 October] - Brian Gibbons

    PDF Report
    Six countries, one thousand shades of blue, nesting tropicbirds and boobies, rare island endemics like Niuafo’ou Scrubfowl and Tongan Whistler, and the clearest seas for snorkeling were just some of the highlights of this exceptional voyage across the South Pacific. All of this aboard the superior expedition cruise ship, the Caledonian Sky, staffed by excellent folks who took care of our every need, particularly our dining needs!
  • 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.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Brian Gibbons

    PDF Report
    We started our adventure on Viti Levu, Fiji at the Westin Denarau resort, which is a set in a tropical garden paradise where we found our first Fijian endemics. Fiji Parrotfinch was quite charming and common. Western Wattled-Honeyeater, Fiji Woodswallow, and the ubiquitous and sometimes feisty mynas all reside around the resort. After a tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Viseisei Village, we embarked the Caledonian Sky, our fine home in the South Pacific for the next two weeks, as we island-hopped through this beautiful slice of the world.
Other Links
  • Land-birds on the French Polynesian Atolls

    Annotated list…
  • The sea-birds on the French Polynesian atolls

    Annotated List…

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