French Polynesia is a French overseas collectivity in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory (Papeete).
It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres. French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago, composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands; the Tuamotu Archipelago; the Gambier Islands; the Marquesas Islands; and the Austral Islands. Only 67 of the 118 islands and atolls are inhabited. Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, is the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the collectivity, Papeete. It has almost 70% of the population of the islands (2017).
The island groups are:
Bass Islands (often considered part of the Austral Islands)
Gambier Islands (often considered part of the Tuamotu Archipelago)
Society Islands (including Tahiti)
Aside from Tahiti, some other important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are: Ahe, Bora Bora, Hiva 'Oa, Huahine, Maiao, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Tahaa, Tetiaroa, Tubuai, and Tupai.
There are relatively few bird species (122), the majority of which are seabirds with just 31 fully terrestrial species, most of which (27) are endemic.
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Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie
Papeete - Tahiti
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 122 (31 Terrestrial Species)
Number of endemics: 27
Blue Lorikeet Vini peruviana - Lori nonette vini
Ultramarine Lorikeet, Vini ultramarina - Lori des Marquises, pihiti
Tahiti Swiftlet Aerodramus leucophaeus - Salangane de la Société, 'ope'a
Marquesas Swiftlet Aerodramus ocistus - Salangane des Marquises, kopekapeka, kope'a
Chattering Kingfisher Halcyon tuta - Martin-chasseur de Polynésie, ruro
Tuamotu Kingfisher Halcyon gambieri - Martin-chasseur de Niau, kote'ute'u
Marquesan Kingfisher Halcyon godeffroyi - Martin-chasseur des Marquises, Pahi
Tahiti Kingfisher Halcyon venerata - Martin-chasseur vénéré, Ruro
Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra - Monarque de Tahiti, 'omama'o
Iphis Monarch Pomarea iphis - Monarque pie
Marquesan Monarch Pomarea mendozae - Monarque marquisien, koma'o, pa
Fatuhiva Monarch, Pomarea whitneyi - Monarque de Fatu-Hiva
Tahiti Reed-warbler Acrocephalus caffer - Fauvette à long bec, `otatare, manu ofe, kotiotio
Marquesas Reed-warbler Acrocephalus mendanae - Fauvette des Marquises, Komako
Rimatara Reed-warbler Acrocephalus rimatarae - Fauvette de Rimatara, oromao
Murphy's Petrel rodroma ultima - Pétrel de Murphy, e'upo
Otu Sandpiper Prosobonia cancellata - Bécasseau polynésien, titi
Polynesian Ground-dove Gallicolumba erythroptera - Gallicolombe érythroptère, u'uaira'o, tutururu
Marquesas Ground-dove Gallicolumba rubescens - Gallicolombe des Marquises
Gray-green Fruit-dove Ptilinopus purpuratus - Ptilope de la Société, 'u'upa
Atoll Fruit-dove Ptilinopus coralensis - Ptilope des Tuamotu, o'o
Makatea Fruit-dove Ptilinopus chalcurus - Ptilope de Makatea, 'u'upa
White-capped Fruit-dove Ptilinopus dupetithouarsii - Ptilope de Dupetit-Thouars, kuku
Rapa Fruit-dove Ptilinopus huttoni - Ptilope de Hutton, koko
Polynesian Pigeon Ducula aurorae - Carpophage du Pacifique, rupe
Nuku Hiva Pigeon Ducula galeata - Carpophage des Marquises, upe
Kuhl's Lorikeet Vini kuhlii - Lori de Kuhl, 'ura
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Societe d'Ornithologie de Polynesie - Manu
Societe d'Ornithologie de Polynesie Manu BP 21 098, Papeete, Tahiti FRENCH POLYNESIA. + 689 42 6808; firstname.lastname@example.org - Polynesia's terrestrial avifauna consists of some thirty species. This relatively low number, however, masks a high rate of endemism. Only Reef Heron, Spotless Crake and Grey Duck have a large distribution throughout the South Pacific. The rest are only found in French Polynesia…
Marine Protected Areas
Since 1971, French Polynesia, according to its local jurisdiction, has been setting up marine protected areas with multiple goals (protected areas, PGEM marine area management plan) but also regulated fishing areas which contribute to a better marine area management.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2008 [09 September] - Mark Finn - Tahiti, New Calednonia & Fiji
This was the first Birdwatching Breaks tour of the South Pacific taking in the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, New Caledonia, Lifou and the two Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Taveuni. During the tour we recorded 128 species. We started by visiting Tahiti where we quickly located all the remaining endemic birds including the globally-threatened Tahiti Monarch and Tahiti Reed Warbler…
2010 [07 July] - Scott Bowers
For the solar eclipse of July 11, 2010, we had intended to visit Easter Island. However, extremely poor service from LAN Chile Airlines prompted us to change our plans to visit French Polynesia instead…
2011 [07 July] - Petri Hottola - Tahiti
…Tahiti is the gateway to French Polynesia and has five endemic bird species to look for: Grey-green Fruit-Dove, Tahiti Kingfisher, Tahiti Swiftlet, Tahiti Reed Warbler and the critically endangered Tahiti Monarch. The few Chattering Kingfishers are very difficult to locate….
2014 [04 April] - Keith Millar
... We saw only 57 species, plus three mammals, three reptiles, two butterflies, a dragonfly and one freshwater fish. But that list does include eight of the world’s rarest birds, found in some of the most beautiful islands on earth. In visiting this remote part of the South Pacific you will help directly in supporting the conservation of these species. As visiting birdwatchers - a rarity in itself - you will almost automatically raise local awareness...
2014 [10 October] - Derek Scott
...As was to be expected, the friendly and inquisitive Tuamotu Sandpipers on Tenararo Atoll were voted the most popular bird of the trip, but the cute little Henderson Crakes on Henderson, the amazingly confiding Polynesian Ground Doves on Tenararo and the colourful Ultramarine Lorikeets on Ua Huka in the Marquesas were also much admired. Other great birds included Murphy’s, Juan Fernandez, Kermadec, Herald, Henderson, Phoenix and Tahiti Petrels, White-bellied and Polynesian Storm Petrels, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Blue and Grey Noddies, Grey-green, Atoll, White-capped and Henderson Fruit Doves, Marquesan Imperial Pigeon, Pacific Long-tailed Cuckoo, Tahiti and Marquesan Swiftlets, Society and Marquesan Kingfishers, Kuhl’s and Stephen’s Lorikeets, and Tahiti, Iphis and Fatu Hiva Monarchs...
2014 [11 November] - Chris Collins
...The star bird was surely the endearing Tuamotu Sandpiper and we were privileged to see this charismatic species on Tenararo and Morane Islands. Although it is believed that the world population is about 1,300 birds which are found across just five atolls, we saw good numbers on both islands....
2015 [10 October] - Brian Gibbons
Six countries, one thousand shades of blue, nesting tropicbirds and boobies, rare island endemics like Niuafo’ou Scrubfowl and Tongan Whistler, and the clearest seas for snorkeling were just some of the highlights of this exceptional voyage across the South Pacific. All of this aboard the superior expedition cruise ship, the Caledonian Sky, staffed by excellent folks who took care of our every need, particularly our dining needs!
2016 [01 January] - Barry Cooper
This is approximately our tenth seabirdoriented voyage on a commercial cruise ship. We have learned that these large vessels offer many opportunities for the serious seabirder. Not the least of which is a completely stable platform from which one can comfortably use one’s scopes, covered decks in wet weather, and a vast array of possible routes.
2017 [11 November] - Brian Gibbons
We started our adventure on Viti Levu, Fiji at the Westin Denarau resort, which is a set in a tropical garden paradise where we found our first Fijian endemics. Fiji Parrotfinch was quite charming and common. Western Wattled-Honeyeater, Fiji Woodswallow, and the ubiquitous and sometimes feisty mynas all reside around the resort. After a tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Viseisei Village, we embarked the Caledonian Sky, our fine home in the South Pacific for the next two weeks, as we island-hopped through this beautiful slice of the world.