List of birds of French Polynesia

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This is a list of the bird species recorded in French Polynesia. The avifauna of French Polynesia includes a total of 122 species, of which 27 are endemic, 14 have been introduced by humans, and 16 are rare or accidental. 27 species are globally threatened.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for French Polynesia.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. The commonly occurring, native, species do not fall into any of these categories.

  • (A) Accidental A species that rarely or accidentally occurs in French Polynesia.
  • (E) Endemic A species endemic to French Polynesia.
  • (I) Introduced A species introduced to French Polynesia as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions.


Table of contents

Non-passerines: Albatrosses • Shearwaters and petrels • Storm petrels • Tropicbirds • Boobies and gannets • Frigatebirds • Bitterns, herons and egrets • Ducks, geese and swans • Hawks, kites and eagles • Pheasants and partridges • Rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots • Plovers and lapwings • Sandpipers and allies • Skuas and jaegers • Gulls • Terns • Pigeons and doves • Parrots, macaws and allies • Cuckoos and anis • Typical owls • Swifts • Kingfishers

Passerines: Swallows and martins • Wagtails and pipits • Bulbuls • Old World warblers • Old World flycatchers • Monarch flycatchers • White-eyes • Starlings • Waxbills and allies • Tanagers

See also       References

Albatrosses[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. There are 21 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide and 24 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Storm petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels, and are the smallest of sea-birds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Tropicbirds[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups comprise medium-to-large coastal sea-birds that plunge-dive for fish. There are 9 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Frigatebirds[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Bitterns, herons and egrets[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ardeidae

The Ardeidae family contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes. Family: Anatidae

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Hawks, kites and eagles[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Pheasants and partridges[edit]

Order: Galliformes. Family: Phasianidae

The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they may vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There are 156 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Scolopacidae

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Gulls[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Terns[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Sternidae

Terns are a group of generally medium to large sea-birds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes. Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Parrots, macaws and allies[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes. Family: Psittacidae

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Cuckoos and anis[edit]

Order: Cuculiformes. Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Typical owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes. Family: Strigidae

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Swifts[edit]

Order: Apodiformes. Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes. Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Swallows and martins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Hirundinidae

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Motacillidae

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Bulbuls[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Pycnonotidae

Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests. There are 130 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Old World warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Sylviidae

The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Muscicapidae

Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There 274 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Monarch flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Monarchidae

The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines, which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in French Polynesia.

White-eyes[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Zosteropidae

The white-eyes are small and are mostly of undistinguished appearance, the plumage above being generally either some dull color like greenish olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests many species have a white ring around the eyes. There are 96 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Starlings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

Waxbills and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Estrildidae

The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have a wide variation in plumage colours and pattern. There are 141 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in French Polynesia.

Tanagers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Thraupidae

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. There are 256 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in French Polynesia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]