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  • Photograph of Common White Tern

    The beautiful Common White Tern by Mike Hunter.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Polynesia


    French Polynesia Endemics 31
    Society Islands 8
    Raiatea (Grey-green) Fruit-dove (west), Grey-green Fruit-dove (Moorea and Tahiti), Tahiti (Polynesian) Swiftlet, Moorea (Society) Kingfisher, Tahiti (Society) Kingfisher, Tahiti Monarch, Tahiti Reed-warbler and Tahiti (Pacific) Swallow (Moorea and Tahiti).

    (Moorea Reed-warbler is probably extinct)

    Tuamotu Archipelago 7
    Polynesian Ground-dove, Polynesian Imperial-pigeon (recent records only from Makatea), Makatea Fruit-dove, Atoll Fruit-dove, Tuamotu Sandpiper, Niau Kingfisher and Tuamotu Reed-warbler.

    Marquesas Islands 12
    Marquesas Ground-dove (Hatutu and Fatu Huku), Nukuhiva Imperial-pigeon, White-capped Fruit-dove, Marquesas (Polynesian) Swiftlet, Marquesas Kingfisher, Ultramarine Lorikeet, Iphis Monarch (Ua Huka), Fatu Hiva Monarch, Ua Pou Monarch, Marquesas Monarch (Mohotani), Southern Marquesan Reed-warbler and Northern Marquesan Reed-warbler.

    Austral Islands 4
    Rapa Fruit-dove, Rapa Shearwater, Rimatara (Kuhl’s) Lorikeet (introduced to Cook and Line Islands) and Rimatara Reed-warbler.

    Pitcairn Islands Endemics 5
    Henderson 4
    Henderson Fruit-dove, Henderson Crake, Henderson (Stephen’s) Lorikeet and Henderson Reed-warbler.

    (Henderson Petrel breeds (mainly May to September) on this island and, apparently, on the southern Tuamotus in French Polynesia, Easter Island and perhaps elsewhere, ranging at sea in this area of the east Pacific)

    Pitcairn 1
    Pitcairn Reed-warbler.


    Society Islands (French Polynesia) and Cook Islands 1
    Chattering Kingfisher.

    French Polynesia and Cook Islands 1
    Blue Lorikeet.

    Marquesas Islands and Kiribati (Phoenix and Line Islands) 1
    Little White Tern.

    Other specialities
    Murphy's and Phoenix Petrels, Polynesian and (Tasman/Titan) White-bellied Storm-petrels, Bristle-thighed Curlew and Grey-backed Tern. Also a chance of Blue Noddy.

    Herald, Kermadec and Tahiti Petrels, Christmas and Tropical Shearwaters, (Latham's) White-faced Storm-petrel, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Brown, Masked and Red-footed Boobies, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Pacific Reef-egret, Striated Heron, Spotless Crake, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Greater Crested, Sooty and Common White Terns, Black, Brown and Grey Noddies, and Long-tailed Koel. Also a chance of Cape, Collared, Westland and White-chinned Petrels, and Flesh-footed Shearwater.

    The many introduced species on Tahiti include Swamp Harrier, Zebra Dove, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Myna, Silvereye, Crimson-backed Tanager, Common Waxbill, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin and Red-browed Finch (Firetail).

    Numerous coral reef fish and Manta Rays (at Bora Bora for example, and Tikehau where there is a particularly shallow Manta Ray cleaning station).

    Humpback Whale.

    Other Natural Wonders in Polynesia

    The classic Pacific atoll; an extinct, sunken volcano in a shallow, sandy lagoon encircled by long, narrow coral islands (motus), about 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Tahiti. The main island, in the middle of the lagoon, is up to about 8 km (5 miles) long and up to 5 km (3 miles) wide, rising to 727 m (2385 ft). It’s a beautiful scene and to cap it all Bora-Bora is also one of the best places for scuba-diving and snorkeling in the world, with numerous fish including Manta Rays.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Polynesia

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Polynesia

    The best time to visit Polynesia is September-October.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Polynesia

    A Field Guide to The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by H D Pratt, P L Bruner and D G Berrett. PUP, 1987.

    Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific by B v Perlo. PUP, 2011.

    Birds of Eastern Polynesia by J-C Thibault and A Cibois. Lynx Edicions, 2017.

    Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific by G Allen et al. New World, 2015 (Second Edition).

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which countries/islands/regions to visit in Oceania? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Polynesia

    Many trip reports, some for Polynesia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Polynesia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Polynesia' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Polynesia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Polynesia

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Polynesia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Polynesia in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.