List of birds of New Caledonia
This is a list of the bird species recorded in New Caledonia. The avifauna of New Caledonia include a total of 189 species, of which 23 are endemic, 14 have been introduced by humans and 48 are rare or accidental. Three species listed are extirpated in New Caledonia and are not included in the species count. Twelve 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 The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect 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 several 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
Grebes are small to medium-large 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.
- Australasian grebe, Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
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.
- Wandering albatross, Diomedea exulans
- Southern royal albatross, Diomedea epomophora (A)
- Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophris (A)
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.
- Antarctic giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus (A)
- Northern giant petrel, Macronectes halli (A)
- Cape petrel, Daption capense (A)
- Tahiti petrel, Pterodroma rostrata
- Mottled petrel, Pterodroma inexpectata
- Providence petrel, Pterodroma solandri (A)
- Herald petrel, Pterodroma heraldica
- White-necked petrel, Pterodroma cervicalis (A)
- Cook's petrel, Pterodroma cookii (A)
- Gould's petrel, Pterodroma leucoptera
- Black-winged petrel, Pterodroma nigripennis
- Grey petrel, Procellaria cinerea (A)
- Streaked shearwater, Calonectris leucomelas
- Flesh-footed shearwater, Ardenna carneipes
- Wedge-tailed shearwater, Ardenna pacificus
- Sooty shearwater, Ardenna griseus
- Short-tailed shearwater, Ardenna tenuirostris
- Fluttering shearwater, Puffinus gavia
- Little shearwater, Puffinus assimilis
- Tropical shearwater, Puffinus bailloni
The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
- Wilson's storm petrel, Oceanites oceanicus (A)
- White-bellied storm petrel, Fregetta grallaria (A)
- Polynesian storm petrel, Nesofregetta fuliginosa
- Band-rumped storm petrel, Oceanodroma castro (A)
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.
Boobies and gannets
- Australasian gannet, Morus serrator
- Masked booby, Sula dactylatra
- Red-footed booby, Sula sula
- Brown booby, Sula leucogaster
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds 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.
- Little black cormorant, Phalacrocorax sulcirostris (A)
- Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo
- Little pied cormorant, Microcarbo melanoleucos
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured inflatable 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.
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.
- Australian pelican, Pelecanus conspicillatus (A)
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.
- Great egret, Ardea alba (A)
- White-faced heron, Egretta novaehollandiae
- Pacific reef heron, Egretta sacra
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis (A)
- Striated heron, Butorides striata (A)
- Nankeen night heron, Nycticorax caledonicus
- Australasian bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus (Ex)
- Black-backed bittern, Ixobrychus dubius
Ibises and spoonbills
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.
Ducks, geese and swans
Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.
- Wandering whistling duck, Dendrocygna arcuata (A)
- Canada goose, Branta canadensis (A)
- Grey teal, Anas gracilis (A)
- Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos (I)
- Pacific black duck, Anas superciliosa
- Australian shoveler, Spatula rhynchotis (A)
- Hardhead, Aythya australis
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.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes 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.
- Whistling kite, Haliastur sphenurus
- White-bellied sea eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster (A)
- Swamp harrier, Circus approximans
- Brown goshawk, Accipiter fasciatus
- White-bellied goshawk, Accipiter haplochrous (E)
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 talons.
Turkeys are similar to large pheasants but have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the beak, called a snood.
- Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo (I)
Pheasants and partridges
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 vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings.
- Red junglefowl, Gallus gallus (I)
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (I)
- Indian peafowl, Pavo cristatus (I)
Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots
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, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.
- New Caledonian rail, Gallirallus lafresnayanus (E)
- Buff-banded rail, Gallirallus philippensis
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla (A)
- Spotless crake, Porzana tabuensis
- White-browed crake, Porzana cinerea (A)
- Australasian swamphen, Porphyrio melanotus
- Dusky moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa
The kagu or cagou is a long-legged grey bird found only in the dense mountain forests of New Caledonia. It is almost flightless. It builds a ground nest of sticks and lays a single egg. It is vulnerable to rats and cats which are introduced species on the island, hence it is now threatened with extinction. The remote habitat and rarity of this species mean that little is known of its habits.
- Kagu, Rhynochetos jubatus (E)
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.
- Painted buttonquail, Turnix varius (Ex)
- South Island oystercatcher, Haematopus finschi (A)
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.
- Beach thick-knee, Esacus magnirostris
Pratincoles and coursers
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.
- Australian pratincole, Stiltia isabella (A)
Plovers and lapwings
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.
- Masked lapwing, Vanellus miles
- Pacific golden plover, Pluvialis fulva
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus (A)
- Double-banded plover, Charadrius bicinctus (A)
- Lesser sandplover, Charadrius mongolus
- Greater sandplover, Charadrius leschenaultii (A)
- Oriental plover, Charadrius veredus (A)
Sandpipers and allies
Scolopacidae is 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 these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
- Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa lapponica
- Little curlew, Numenius minutus (A)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Far Eastern curlew, Numenius madagascariensis (A)
- Marsh sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis (A)
- Common greenshank, Tringa nebularia
- Grey-tailed tattler, Tringa brevipes
- Wandering tattler, Tringa incana
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Great knot, Calidris tenuirostris (A)
- Red knot, Calidris canutus (A)
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Red-necked stint, Calidris ruficollis
- Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea (A)
Skuas and jaegers
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.
- South polar skua, Stercorarius maccormicki (A)
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus (A)
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus (A)
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls, terns, and skimmers. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds 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 known to live in excess of 30 years.
- Silver gull, Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
- Greater crested tern, Thalasseus bergii
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Black-naped tern, Sterna sumatrana
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Fairy tern, Sternula nereis
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus
- Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida
- Black noddy, Anous minutus
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- Grey noddy, Anous albivitta
- White tern, Gygis alba
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Metallic pigeon, Columba vitiensis
- Spotted dove, Spilopelia chinensis (I)
- Pacific emerald dove, Chalcophaps longirostris
- Zebra dove, Geopelia striata (I)
- Red-bellied fruit dove, Ptilinopus greyi
- Cloven-feathered dove, Drepanoptila holosericea (E)
- Pacific imperial pigeon, Ducula pacifica
- Goliath imperial pigeon, Ducula goliath (E)
Parrots and allies
- Rainbow lorikeet, Trichoglossus haematodus
- Horned parakeet, Eunymphicus cornutus (E)
- Ouvea parakeet, Eunymphicus uvaeensis (E)
- New Caledonian parakeet, Cyanoramphus saissetti (E)
- Fan-tailed cuckoo, Cacomantis flabelliformis
- Shining bronze cuckoo, Chrysococcyx lucidus
- Long-tailed cuckoo, Eudynamys taitensis
- Channel-billed cuckoo, Scythrops novaehollandiae (A)
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.
- New Caledonian owlet-nightjar, Aegotheles savesi (E)
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.
- New Caledonian nightjar, Eurostopodus exul (E)
Swifts are small birds which spend 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 which resemble a crescent or boomerang.
- Satin swiftlet, Collocalia uropygialis
- White-rumped swiftlet, Aerodramus spodiopygius
- Uniform swiftlet, Aerodramus vanikorensis (A)
- White-throated needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus (A)
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.
- Sacred kingfisher, Todirhamphus sanctus
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 colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.
- Rainbow bee-eater, Merops ornatus
Swallows and martins
The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.
- Pacific swallow, Hirundo tahitica
- Welcome swallow, Hirundo neoxena
- Tree martin, Petrochelidon nigricans (A)
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.
- South Melanesian cuckooshrike, Coracina caledonica
- Black-faced cuckooshrike, Coracina novaehollandiae (A)
- New Caledonian cuckooshrike, Coracina analis (E)
- Long-tailed triller, Lalage leucopyga
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.
- Red-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus cafer (I)
Thrushes and allies
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.
- Island thrush, Turdus poliocephalus
The family Locustellidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs.
- New Caledonian thicketbird, Megalurulus mariei (E)
The fantails are small insectivorous birds which are specialist aerial feeders.
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching.
Most species of 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 swamp to semi-arid scrubland. All are primarily insectivores, although a few supplement their diet with seeds.
- Yellow-bellied robin, Microeca flaviventris (E)
Whistlers and allies
The family Pachycephalidae includes the whistlers, shrike-thrushes and shrike-tits.
- Golden whistler, Pachycephala pectoralis
- New Caledonian whistler, Pachycephala caledonica (E)
- Rufous whistler, Pachycephala rufiventris
Thornbills and allies
Thornbills are small passerine birds, similar in habits to the tits.
- Fan-tailed gerygone, Gerygone flavolateralis
The white-eyes are small and mostly undistinguished, their plumage above being generally some dull colour 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 each eye.
- Large Lifou white-eye, Zosterops inornatus (E)
- Green-backed white-eye, Zosterops xanthochrous (E)
- Small Lifou white-eye, Zosterops minutus (E)
- Silver-eye, Zosterops lateralis
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.
- Dark-brown honeyeater, Lichmera incana
- New Caledonian myzomela, Myzomela caledonica (E)
- Cardinal myzomela, Myzomela cardinalis
- New Caledonian friarbird, Philemon diemenensis (E)
- Crow honeyeater, Gymnomyza aubryana (E)
- Barred honeyeater, Phylidonyris undulata (E)
The woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds. They are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings.
- White-breasted woodswallow, Artamus leucorynchus
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.
- New Caledonian crow, Corvus moneduloides (E)
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.
- Striated starling, Aplonis striata (E)
- Common myna, Acridotheres tristis (I)
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (A)
Waxbills and allies
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 wide variation in plumage colours and patterns.
- Common waxbill, Estrilda astrild (I)
- Blue-faced parrotfinch, Erythrura trichroa (A)
- Red-throated parrotfinch, Erythrura psittacea (E)
- Chestnut-breasted mannikin, Lonchura castaneothorax (I)
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, but they also consume small insects.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)