Kingdom of Tonga

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio ©Ian Montgomery Website
Birding Tonga

Ten of the region’s endemic birds can be seen in Tonga and these include two of it’s own endemics, the Tongan Megapode which is restricted to the isolated Nuiafo’ou and the Tongan Whistler which is found only in the Vava’u Group.

The Kingdom of Tonga consists of about 170 islands of which only 36 are inhabited; four main island groups, the outlying northern Nuias’; Vava’u; Ha’apai and the southern Tongatapu Group. Running almost the length of the archipelago on the western side is a string of active and dormant volcanoes such as Nuiafo’ou, Toku, Fonualei, Late, Kao, Tofua and ‘Ata. To the east are the older, coralline limestone covered islands.

The original vegetation of Tonga was tropical rain forest – today this has been almost completely lost, throughout the Kingdom. Only small remnants remain on Tongatapu, some of the Vava’u islands and on ‘Eua. The 449 ha ‘Eua National Park is the sole terrestrial biodiversity protected area in the Kingdom. The Tongan Government is currently considering a proposal to declare the islands of Maninita and Taula in the Vava’u Group as protected areas as both these islands are important seabird nesting sites.

Species likely to been seen depending on time of yearWandering Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel, Tahiti Petrel, Phoenix Petrel, White-naped Petrel, Herald Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Collared Petrel, Audubon’s Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Polynesian Storm-petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby, Greater Frigatebird, Lesser Frigatebird, Eastern Reef Heron, White-faced Heron, Mangrove Heron, Pacific Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Tongan Megapode, Junglefowl, Pacific Harrier, Banded Rail, Spotless Crake, Purple Swamphen, Pacific Golden Plover,Bristle-thighed Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Wandering Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Pomarine Skua, Artic Skua, South Polar Skua, Crested Tern, Black-naped Tern, Sooty Tern, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Blue Noddy, Grey Noddy, Brown Noddy, Black Noddy, White Tern, Feral Pigeon, Friendly Ground-dove, Pacific Pidgeon, Many-coloured Fruit-dove, Crimson-crowned Fruit-dove, Blue-crowned Lory, Red Shining Parrot, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Barn Owl, White-rumped Swiftlet, White-collared Kingfisher, Pacific Swallow, Polynesian Starling, European Starling, Jungle Mynah, Red-vented Bulbul, Lesser Shrikebill, Tongan Whistler, Polynesian Triller and Wattled Honeyeater.

Top Sites
  • 'Eua National Park

    InformationSatellite View
    The southern cliffs and forests are perhaps most rewarding, as many of the seabirds and most of the forest birds can be seen here. Among seabirds, Grey Noddies are the most unusual species to be encountered. Brown Bobbies and Brown Noddies breed on the cliffs and White Terns and White-tailed Tropicbirds are common over the sea as well as above the forest. Most of 'Eua's land birds are seen in this area such as the introduced Red-breasted Musk Parrots, Pacific Pigeons, Crimson-crowned Fruit-doves, Polynesian Trillers, Wattled Honeyeaters, Polynesian Starlings and the White-collared Kingfisher.
  • Maninita & Taula

    Satellite View
    The remote southern islands of Maninita and Taula are important seabird nesting sites with 19 species of birds recorded on or around the islands. There are 3 species of resident breeding land birds – the Wattled Honeyeater, Banded Rail and White-collared Kingfisher. 5 seabirds nest on the islands – Black and Brown Noddies, White Terns, Black-winged Petrels and the Red-footed Booby. In 2002, with assistance from NZAid, a rat eradication programme was successfully conducted on Maninita and Taula.
  • Nuiafo'ou

    Satellite View
    The ultimate destination for birders in Tonga is the remote northernmost island of the archipelago, Nuiafo'ou, home of the critically endangered endemic Tongan Megapode. This extremely interesting and beautiful island can now be accessed by air. However, bookings well in advance are essential as arrangements need to be made with the villagers from Angaha to organize boat transport to the islands in the caldera to see this extremely rare bird.
  • Tongatapu - Sopu Mudflats

    InformationSatellite View
    These fringing mudflats and patches of Mangroves are located west of Nuku'alofa. This is a good site for waders and Pacific Black Duck, Reef Egrets, Black-naped and Crested Terns are normally seen. Both White-faced and Mangrove Herons have been observed here, neither of which is a confirmed breeder in Tonga. On the coast here the ubiquitous White-collared Kingfisher is common and Pacific Swallows, a rare species in Tonga, may be seen.
  • Vava'u

    InformationSatellite View
    Vava'u is outstandingly beautiful. Those in search of the endemic Tongan Whistler will find them in the native forest on the northern side of the main island. Listen for their characteristic whistling call.
  • Allan Bowe

    Kingdom of Tonga |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 73

  • Number of endemics: 2

    Niaufoou Scrubfowl Megapodius pritchardii Tongan Whistler Pachycephala jacquinoti
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
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 | Dick Watling | 2004 | Paperback | 272 pages, 16 col plates, figs, tabs, maps | ISBN: 9829030040 Buy this book from
  • Guide to the Birds of the Kingdom of Tonga

    By Dick Watling | Dick Watling | 2006 | Poster | ISBN: 9829030075 Buy this book from

Abbreviations Key

  • Best Places to See Wildlife in Tonga

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Wildlife lovers, don’t forget to pack your binoculars, mask and snorkel because Tonga has all sorts of wildlife to encounter. Most famously, the humpback whales of Tonga can be seen in a unique underwater encounter, while some of the nation’s uninhabited islands provide sanctuaries for South Pacific birds. Learn more about where to see wildlife in Tonga in the guide below.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birdwatch Tonga Ltd

    We offer guiding throughout the Kingdom, for a day or two or a comprehensive tour of the island groups and their unique birdlife
  • Mounu Island Resort

    Facebook Page
    The remote uninhabitated islands to the south of Mounu are home to prolific colonies of sea birds. Day trips can be made to these islands where we will take you ashore to view at close range the habitat and behaviour of the numerous species. For the past couple of years we have invested time into research, monitoring and perserving these islands for the continous breeding and protection of the birds.
Trip Reports
  • 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.
Places to Stay
  • Fafa Island Resort

    Fafa is one of the 170 islands of the idylic Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. The seven hectare coral island is about 7 kilometres north of Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga or 30 minutes sailing with Fafa's motor sailer. A maximum of 32 guests stay in traditionally built fales surrounded by gardens - there are 8 rustic fales and 8 superior beach bungalows with enclosed courtyards.
  • Heilala Holiday Lodge B&B

    Activities we can arrange for you: Boat trips to islands off Tongatapu, Diving and snorkeling, Island/Beach tours, Whale watching, Tongan feasts, Game fishing and more

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