List of birds of New Caledonia

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The kagu is the only representative of a family endemic to New Caledonia, and is an emblem of the island territory.

This is a list of the bird species recorded in New Caledonia. The avifauna of New Caledonia includes a total of 189 species, of which 23 are endemic, 14 have been introduced by humans, and 48 are rare or accidental. 3 species listed are extirpated in New Caledonia and are not included in the species count. 12 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 New Caledonia.

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 New Caledonia.
  • (E) Endemic A species endemic to New Caledonia.
  • (I) Introduced A species introduced to New Caledonia as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions.
  • (Ex) Extirpated A species that no longer occurs in New Caledonia although populations exist elsewhere.


Table of contents

Non-passerines: Grebes . Albatrosses . Shearwaters and Petrels . Storm petrels . Tropicbirds . Pelicans . Boobies and Gannets . Cormorants . Frigatebirds . Bitterns, Herons and Egrets . Ibises and Spoonbills . Ducks, Geese and Swans . Osprey . Hawks, Kites and Eagles . Falcons . Turkeys . Pheasants and Partridges . Buttonquails . Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots . Kagus . Oystercatchers . Thick-knees . Pratincoles and Coursers . Plovers and Lapwings . Sandpipers and allies . Skuas and Jaegers . Gulls . Terns . Pigeons and Doves . Parrots and allies . Cuckoos . Barn owls . Owlet-nightjars . Nightjars . Swifts . Kingfishers . Bee-eaters .

Passerines: Swallows and Martins . Cuckoo-shrikes . Bulbuls . Thrushes and allies . Old World warblers . Fantails . Monarch flycatchers . Australasian robins . Whistlers and allies . Thornbills and allies . White-eyes . Honeyeaters . Woodswallows . Crows, Jays, Ravens and Magpies . Starlings . Waxbills and allies . Sparrows .

See also       References

Grebes[edit]

Order: Podicipediformes. Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 New Caledonia.

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 20 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Pelicans[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are 8 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Cormorants[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phalacrocoracidae

The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 New Caledonia.

Bitterns, herons and egrets[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae 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 suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Threskiornithidae

The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes. Family: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an 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 9 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Osprey[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Pandionidae

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

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 5 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Falcons[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Turkeys[edit]

Order: Galliformes. Family: Meleagrididae

Turkeys are similar to large pheasants but have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the beak, called a snood. There are two species, both native to the Americas, and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 3 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Buttonquails[edit]

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Turnicidae

The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes, and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 7 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Kagus[edit]

Wild kagu at Rivière Bleue National Park, a refuge managed for the species

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Rhynochetidae

The kagu or cagou is a long-legged grey-coloured bird found only in the dense mountain forests of New Caledonia. It is almost flightless, and builds a ground nest of sticks, laying a single egg. It has proved vulnerable to introduced rats and cats, and is threatened with extinction. The remote habitat and rarity of this species mean that little is known of its habits.

  • Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus (E)

Oystercatchers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Thick-knees[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Burhinidae

The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Pratincoles and coursers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Glareolidae

Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 8 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 17 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 3 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Gulls[edit]

The silver gull is one of the few species of gull found on tropical islands

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds 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 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Terns[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Sternidae

Terns are a group of generally general 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 12 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 9 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Parrots 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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Cuckoos[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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes. Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Owlet-nightjars[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes. Family: Aegothelidae

The owlet-nightjars are small nocturnal birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. They are insectivores which hunt mostly in the air. Their soft plumage is a mixture of browns and paler shades. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Nightjars[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes. Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Bee-eaters[edit]

Rainbow bee-eater

Order: Coraciiformes. Family: Meropidae

The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colorful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 New Caledonia.

Cuckoo-shrikes[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Campephagidae

The cuckoo-shrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured. There are 82 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 New Caledonia.

Thrushes and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Turdidae

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Fantails[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Rhipiduridae

The Fantails are small insectivorous birds which are specialist aerial feeders. There are 44 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Australasian robins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Petroicidae

Most species of the Petroicidae have a stocky build with a large, rounded head, a short, straight bill, and rounded wingtips. They occupy a wide range of wooded habitats, from subalpine to tropical rainforest, and mangrove swamps to semi-arid scrubland. All are primarily insectivorous, although a few supplement their diet with seeds. There are 43 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Whistlers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Pachycephalidae

The family Pachycephalidae includes the whistlers, shrike-thrushes, shrike-tits, pitohuis and crested bellbird. There are 57 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Thornbills and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Acanthizidae

Thornbills are small passerine birds, similar in habits to the tits. There are 65 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Honeyeaters[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Meliphagidae

The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium-sized birds most common in Australia and New Guinea. They are nectar feeders and closely resemble other nectar-feeding passerines. There are 174 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Woodswallows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Artamidae

The woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds. They are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

Crows, jays, ravens and magpies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Corvidae

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

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 3 species which occur in New Caledonia.

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 4 species which occur in New Caledonia.

Sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Passeridae

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in New Caledonia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]