Independent State of Samoa

Samoan Fantail Rhipidura nebulosa ©Andy Walker Website
Birding Samoa

There are only 34 species of land birds, of which 14 are endemic, including such forms as the famous tooth-billed pigeon, fruit doves, kingfishers, and white-eye. So says one guide – but this refers to Samoa as a whole including American Samoa…Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa), is a country governing the western part of the Samoan Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. It was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was known as Navigators Islands before the 20th century because of the Samoans’ seafaring skills.

The country is located east of the international date line and south of the equator, about halfway between Hawai‘i and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The total land area is 2934 km² (slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Rhode Island), consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai’i which account for 99% of the total land area, and eight small islets: the three islets in the Apolima Strait (Manono Island, Apolima and Nu’ulopa), the four Aleipata Islands off the eastern end of Upolu (Nu’utele, Nu’ulua, Namua, and Fanuatapu), and Nu’usafe’e (less than 0.01 km² in area and about 1.4 km off the south coast of Upolu at the village of Vaovai). The main island of Upolu is home to nearly three-quarters of Samoa’s population, and its capital city is Apia. The climate is tropical, with an average annual temperature of 26.5 °C, and a rainy season from November to April. Savai’i is the largest of the Samoan islands and the third largest Polynesian Island after Tahiti and New Zealand. The population of Savali’i is 42,000 people.

The Samoan islands have been produced by volcanism, the source of which is a geologic hotspot which is the probable result of a mantle plume. While all of the islands have volcanic origins, only Savai’i has had recent eruptions and could be considered volcanically active. The last major eruption occurred in the 1700s, and smaller eruptions occurred between 1904–1906. The highest point in Samoa is Mauga Silisili, at 1858 m. The Saleaula Lava Fields were produced by Mt. Matavanu during its eruption 102 years ago leaving 52 square kilometres of solidified lava.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 82

    (As at April 2020)

    National Bird: Tooth-billed Pigeon Didunculus sprigirostris

  • Number of endemics: 10

    Samoan Moorhen Gallinula pacifica Tooth-billed Pigeon Didunculus strigirostris Flat-billed Kingfisher Todirhamphus recurvirostris Samoan Triller Lalage sharpei Samoan Fantail Rhipidura nebulosa Samoan Flycatcher Myiagra albiventris Samoan Whistler Pachycephala flavifrons Samoan White-eye Zosterops samoensis Mao Gymnomyza samoensis Samoan Starling Aplonis atrifusca Red-headed Parrotfinch Erythrura cyaneovirens
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Useful Reading

  • A Guide to the Birds of Fiji and Western Polynesia including American Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis & Futuna

    By Dick Watling Hard Cover; 16 Full Colour Plates; Figures, Tables & Maps; 272 pages. ISBN: 9829030040 Buy this book from
  • O Le Siosiomaga Society Inc.

    Facebook Page
    le Siosiomaga Society Inc.P0 Box 5774, Matautu WESTERN SAMOA. + 685 21993;
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    The country is part of the Endemic Bird Area (BirdLife International) of the Samoan Islands, and close to its capital Apia can be found one the six Important Bird Areas of Samoa, the Apia Catchments, where 16 globally threatened or range-restricted species have been observed.
Trip Reports
  • 2013 [05 May] - Israel Didham

    …The only birds I could note down firmly were common mynahs, jungle mynahs, red-vented bulbuls and Polynesian triller…
  • 2013 [07 July] - Jim Holmes

    ...The trees, now were not nearly as tall and there were some shorter scrub. At this point, I started seriously looking for the white-eye. We continued up, occasionally stopping to look and play tape. Despite being late morning, there was plenty of bird activity (but no white-eyes). Cardinal Myzolemas, Wattled Honeyeaters and Samoan Starlings were all very common. I also began seeing the Samoan race of Island Thrush. We hiked past a campsite where there are remnants of prior campers. We kept going for another 2 hours without any luck. Eventually, I decided we should turn around and we kept looking for white-eyes on the way back without success. Luckily, as we just entered the main forest on the way back down, the guide pointed at a bird foraging just above eye-level. I looked at it, expecting another myzomela only to see the white-eye....
  • 2016 [05 July] - David Hoddinott & Rich Lindie - New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu & Samoa

    PDF Report
    There, from the restaurant balconyitself, we watched White-tailed Tropicbirds, WhiteTerns, hundreds of flying foxes, Cardinal Myzomelas,Crimson-crowned Fruit Dove and Polynesian WattledHoneyeaters, whilst the surrounding greenery yieldedRed-headed Parrotfinch, Samoan Flycatcher, SamoanFantail, Samoan Whistler, Blue-crowned Lorikeet andFlat-billed Kingfisher!
  • 2017 [07 July] - Erik Forsyth & Rich Lindie

    PDF Report
  • 2018 [11 November] - New Caledonia & Fiji, with Vanuatu & Samoa

    PDF Report
    The unique Orange Fruit Dove was the undisputed highlight of our very enjoyable foray to the Melanesian islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and the Polynesian islands of Fiji and Samoa. These little dots sprinkled about in the western Pacific Ocean hold an amazing variety of endemics and specialities and on our recent trip we managed to see the majority of these.

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