List of birds of Tonga
This is a list of the bird species recorded in Tonga. The avifauna of Tonga include a total of 73 species, of which two are endemic, five have been introduced by humans and eight are rare or accidental. Seven 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 Tonga.
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 Tonga
- (E) Endemic - a species endemic to Tonga
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Tonga as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
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 1 species which occurs in Tonga.
- Wandering albatross, Diomedea exulans
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)
- Cape petrel, Daption capense
- Tahiti petrel, Pseudobulweria rostrata
- Phoenix petrel, Pterodroma alba (A)
- Mottled petrel, Pterodroma inexpectata
- Kermadec petrel, Pterodroma neglecta
- Herald petrel, Pterodroma heraldica
- White-necked petrel, Pterodroma cervicalis
- Black-winged petrel, Pterodroma nigripennis
- Wedge-tailed shearwater, Ardenna pacificus
- Buller's shearwater, Ardenna bulleri (A)
- Sooty shearwater, Ardenna griseus
- Short-tailed shearwater, Ardenna tenuirostris
- 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.
- Polynesian storm petrel, Nesofregetta fuliginosa
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
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.
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.
- White-faced heron, Egretta novaehollandiae
- Pacific reef heron, Egretta sacra
- Striated heron, Butorides striata (A)
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.
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.
- Swamp harrier, Circus approximans
The Megapodiidae are stocky, medium-large chicken-like birds with small heads and large feet. All but the malleefowl occupy jungle habitats and most have brown or black colouring.
- Niuafo'ou scrubfowl, Megapodius pritchardii (E)
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
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.
- Buff-banded rail, Gallirallus philippensis
- Spotless crake, Porzana tabuensis
- Australasian swamphen, Porphyrio melanotus
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.
- Pacific golden plover, Pluvialis fulva
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
- Bristle-thighed curlew, Numenius tahitiensis
- Wandering tattler, Tringa incana
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
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.
- Greater crested tern, Thalasseus bergii
- Black-naped tern, Sterna sumatrana
- Spectacled tern, Onychoprion lunatus
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus
- Black noddy, Anous minutus
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- Blue noddy, Procelsterna cerulea
- Grey noddy, Procelsterna albivitta
- White tern, Gygis alba
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Friendly ground dove, Gallicolumba stairi
- Many-coloured fruit dove, Ptilinopus perousii
- Purple-capped fruit dove, Ptilinopus porphyraceus
- Pacific imperial pigeon, Ducula pacifica
Parrots, macaws and allies
Cuckoos and anis
- Long-tailed koel, Eudynamys taitensis
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
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.
- White-rumped swiftlet, Aerodramus spodiopygius
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.
- Pacific kingfisher, Todirhamphus sacer
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
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.
- Polynesian triller, Lalage maculosa
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)
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching.
- Fiji shrikebill, Clytorhynchus vitiensis
Whistlers and allies
The family Pachycephalidae includes the whistlers, shrike-thrushes, and shrike-tits.
- Tongan whistler, Pachycephala jacquinoti (E)
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.
- Wattled honeyeater, Foulehaio carunculata
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.
- Polynesian starling, Aplonis tabuensis
- Jungle myna, Acridotheres fuscus (I)
- European starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)