Land birds of Tonga
( red = Tongan name)

POLYNESIAN STARLING, MISI (Aplonis tabuensis)
DESCRIPTION: Upperparts dark ashy-brown, darker and more glossy on crown. Chin pale, merging to slightly darker chest which in turn merges into beige abdomen. Bill, feet and eyes are dark brown; although Polynesian Starlings from the Niuas have yellow eyes.
OVERALL LENGTH: 19 cm (7 1/2 ") 
DISTRIBUTION: East Melanesia (Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands and Fiji) and Western Samoa. 
OCCURRENCE AT TONGA: There are only a few tiny islands where the Polynesian Starling does not occur. May be found in most habitats, including close to human habitation. 
HABITAT: Common in all kinds of habitats, provided a few trees or bushes are present. Usually occurs in pairs, but small flocks are not rare. Eats mainly berries for example of Tutu'uh (Jasminum didymum), Maile (Alyxia stellate) and Ovava (Strangling Fig, Ficus obliqua), as well as fruit, often in plantations, Insects are sometimes taken, too. The nests are in hollow trees, very often in coconut palms which have the crown broken off. Usually two pale blue eggs are laid. Breeding season is from August to January. 
STATUS IN TONGA: Probably the most abundant land bird in Tonga.

EUROPEAN STARLING, MISI PALANGI (Sturnus vulgaris)
DESCRIPTION: A shining black bird heavily spangled with whitish spots. Young birds are brown and may be confused with Polynesian Starlings, bill is black, except in the mating season when it is yellow. 
OVERALL LENGTH: 21 cm (8") 
DISTRIBUTION: Originally from Europe, but introduced to many parts of the world including New Zealand and Australia. 
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Known in 'Eua and Tongatapu, but has also been reported in 'Ata (1925). European Starlings colonised Tonga and the southernmost islands of Fiji's Lau group from New Zealand via the Kermadec islands, where they are abundant. 
HABITAT: A gregarious bird, mainly feeding on the ground, where it takes various kinds of invertebrates. Also eats fruits, and can be seen quarrelling with Polynesian Starlings over ripe pawpaws. 
STATUS IN TONGA: Common on open areas of Tongatapu. On 'Eua, big flocks can be seen in the airstrip area, on pastures at the southern tip and at Hango Agricultural College. It has been speculated that European Starlings may not spread further northwards, because they do not adapt well to a hotter climate.

POLYNESIAN TRILLER, SIKIVIU (Lalage maculosa)
DESCRIPTION: White eyebrow and contrasting black eye stripe. Dark cap extending to neck and upperparts. Disruptive black and white patterns on wings. Chest and abdomen pale and finely barred. Tail black with white tip. Legs and bill black.
OVERALL LENGTH: 15 cm (6")
DISTRIBUTION: Eastern Melanesia (Temotu Province, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji) and Western Polynesia.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On most large islands except Niuafo'ou, but also on a few small coral islands.
HABITAT: The Polynesian Triller is a bird of secondary vegetation often associated with ironwood (Toa, Casuarina litorea). It is a noisy and quarrelsome species. commonly seen in aerial pursuit of other songbirds. They feed on a variety of insects which they collect from leaves, branches and the ground, with caterpillar being their favourites. They also take various small fruits. especially those of strangling figs ('Ovava). The nest is cupshaped and placed close to thick branches, almost invisible from the ground. One or two eggs are laid. Breeding has been recorded from August to January. At the end of the breeding season, many noisy parties of up to four trillers, parents with their fledglings, are seen.
STATUS IN TONGA: The abundance of the Polynesian Triller differs greatly between islands. It is common on 'Eua, 'Uta Vava'u and some islands of the main Ha'apai group. In general, it is only third in abundance among the native Tongan songbirds after the Polynesian Starling and the Wattled Honeyeater. It has disappeared from several small islands during this century.

JUNGLE MYNA, NGUTU'ENGA (Acridotheres fuscus)
DESCRIPTION: A dark grey bird with paler underparts, which have a distinct vinaceous suffusion on the abdomen. Wings are dull brown with white patches, tail tipped white. Bill, feet and eyes are yellow. Black nasal tuft is diagnostic.
DISTRIBUTION: Originally from south-east Asia, the Jungle Myna has been introduced to many countries and islands including Fiji.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Only on Niuafo ou where it arrived around 1980. Mynas must have arrived from Fiji or Samoa, where they are extremely abundant.
HABITAT: Found in a variety of habitats from seacoast to forest edge including open countryside, agricultural areas, residential gardens and parks. Noisy and gregarious. Nests in holes, two to four pale blue eggs are laid.
STATUS IN TONGA: Rare and shy in 1984, it is more abundant now, even outnumbering the Red-vented Bulbul.

WATTLED HONEYEATER, FULEHEU (Foulehaio carunculata)
DESCRIPTION: Medium-sized bird with drab olive-green plumage some yellow on wings and tail. Fine, slightly down-curved bill is black. Bright yellow wattle below eye is diagnostic.
OVERALL LENGTH: 19 cm (7 1/2 ")
DISTRIBUTION: Western Polynesia and Fiji.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Abundant on most islands, even tiny coral islets.
HABITAT: Found from coastal scrub to montane forest. Often seen in residential areas and parks. Noisy and aggressive. Feeds on nectar, insects and occasionally lizards.
STATUS IN TONGA: The second most common bird in Tonga

FIJI SHRIKEBILL, FULVA (Clytorhynchus vitiensis)
DESCRIPTION: Dull olive-brown plumage, back and wings are darker, merging to brown-grey on the belly. Long wedge-shaped bill is black with pale edges. Outer tail feathers tipped with grey. Fanning of the tail feathers when excited or alarmed is characteristic.
OVERALL LENGTH: 19 cm (7 1/2 ")
DISTRIBUTION: Western Polynesia and Samoa.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Has a curious patchy distribution in Tonga where it occurs on Niuatoputapu and Tafahi, small islands in the Nomuka group, Tofua, Kao and the Hungas, and on 'Eueiki and Kalau in the Tongatapu group. Its last refuge in the Ha'apai group is on 'Uiha, where it is very rare.
HABITAT: The Fiji Shrikebill is a flycatcher, catching insects on the wing and also taking them from tree branches and from the ground. It is not shy and can be approached easily.
STATUS IN TONGA: On most islands, the Shrikebill is less common than the Wattled Honeyeater and the Polynesian Starling. On a few remote coral islands in the Nomuka group (Fetokopunga, Lalona, and Nuku), however, it can be found in extremely high densities. The Fiji Shrikebill disappeared from many islands in the Ha'apai and Tongatapu groups during this century. Main causes were de-forestation and the introduction of roof rats, which prey upon eggs and nestlings.

TONGAN WHISTLER, HENGEHENGA (Pachycephala jacquinoti)
DESCRIPTION: The male is a strikingly coloured small bird with a bright yellow belly, black head and throat and a greenish back. The female has a pale brown head and the yellow belly is much paler.
OVERALL LENGTH: 18 cm (7")
DISTRIBUTION: Endemic to a few islands in the Vava'u group ('Uta Vava'u, Pangaimotu, 'Utungake, 'Euakafa, Na) and Late.
HABITAT: The Tongan Whistler is a bird of the forest understorey. Living in pairs, they defend their territories vigorously against intruders. The males have a beautiful whistling song, which can be heard during morning and late afternoon hours. Whistlers feed on a variety of insects, some of which they catch in short flights. They also prey upon small reptiles such as geckos and blue-tailed skinks.
No Tongan Whistler's nest has ever been found. The Golden Whistler, a close relative from Fiji, builds a cup-shaped, relatively voluminous nest which normally contains one egg. They seem to breed throughout the year. Tongan Whistlers are very probably similar in their breeding behaviour.
STATUS IN TONGA: The Tongan Whistler is rather common in suitable habitat, which is slowly but gradually disappearing from the islands of the Vava'u group. Its stronghold is on Late, where it is a common bird.

RED-VENTED BULBUL, MANUFO`OU or FUIVA (Pycnotus cafer)
DESCRIPTION: Glossy black head, neck and throat. Characteristic short crest on head, raised when alarmed. Dark colouring merges to pale belly. Bright red under tail coverts is diagnostic. Wing rid tail feathers brown-grey edged with white.
OVERALL LENGTH: 20 cm (8")
DISTRIBUTION: Originally from south-east Asia, but introduced to many tropical countries.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Tongatapu and Niuafo'ou only. Was introduced between 1930 and 1940.
HABITAT: A conspicuous bird of towns and villages. Often perches on power lines, houses, fences and other man-made structures, but also found in forest and agriculture areas. A fruiteater that can become a serious pest.
STATUS IN TONGA: Very common on Niuafo'ou. It is the most common bird in villages on Tongatapu.

BARN OWL, LULU (Tyto alba)
DESCRIPTION: Large bird, having upperparts of cream mottled with beige. Underside is white. The round facial disc is characteristic. In flight it appears completely white. Nocturnal. so rarely seen during the day.
OVERALL LENGTH: 35 cm (14")
DISTRIBUTION: Almost worldwide
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On most islands. even very small ones.
HABITAT: Found from sea-level to mountaintop in a variety of habitats. Breeds in holes in trees or in caves. three to five white eggs are laid.
STATUS IN TONGA: Fairly common bird. but due to its nocturnal habits. it is often overlooked.

WHITE-ROMPED SWIFTLET, PEKEPEKATEA (Aerodramus spodiopygius)
DESCRIPTION: All upperparts black except for white rump which is diagnostic. Greywash on all underside. Long thin sickleshaped wings. Short black tail with central notch. Darting bat - like flight is characteristic.
OVERALL LENGTH: 10 cm (4")
DISTRIBUTION: From Australia and Melanesia east to Tonga and Samoa.
OCCURRENCE in TONGA: On all islands with caves. Absent from the Ha'apai and Nomuka groups.
HABITAT: An aerial feeder which never lands on the ground. Roosts and nests in caves, even in total darkness where it navigates by echo-location. The tiny nests consist of fine fibres cemented with the swiftlets' own saliva. Usually, only one egg is laid. Eggs may be found all year round.
STATUS IN TONGA: Common. In some caves, such as in a cave below the H˙fangalupe cliffs on Tongatapu, several thousand may roost and nest.

WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER, SIKOTA (Halcyon chloris)
DESCRIPTION: Blue cap, cream eyebrow. dark eyestripe. White collar, narrow on dorsal aspect, widening into white chest which merges into cream abdomen. Most striking about this bird, is the brilliant iridescent turquoise-blue of its back, wings and tail as theycatch the sun. Bill is long and pointed.
OVERALL LENGTH: 22 cm (8 1/2 ")
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread from north-east Africa along the Asian coasts, to Australia, Micronesia and western Polynesia.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On most islands, but absent from Niuafo'ou, Niuatoputapu and Tafahi in the north and from 'Ata in the very south.
HABITAT: It exhibits abroad habitat tolerance and maybe encountered anywhere from montane forest to urban centres, or foraging on the reef. Frequently perches on power lines. Noisy and conspicuous. Nests in holes burrowed into termite mounds, earth banks or rotten trees. Four to six white eggs are laid.

PACIFIC SWALLOW, PEKEPEKA (Hirundo tahitica)
DESCRIPTION: Back and wings dark grey to black. Underparts paler and faintly barred. Throat brownish red. Tail slightly forked. This bird is almost always seen in flight, though it is able to land and take off from the ground.
OVERALL LENGTH: 12cm (5")
DISTRIBUTION: Throughout Melanesia, but only locally distributed in Polynesia.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Visitor to many islands (has been recorded from 'Uta Vava'u, Lofanga, Tofua, Kelefisia, Fonoifua, Tonumea, Tongatapu and 'Eua), but certainly only breeding on Nomuka. Stragglers may be seen on every island in Tonga. It may breed on other islands, but has been overlooked due to its similarity to the much more abundant White-rumped Swiftlet. 
HABITAT: A typical inhabitant of open areas, where it preys on flying insects, mostly very close to the ground. Perches on exposed sites such as dead trees, power lines or houses. Roosts under the roofs of open buildings (for example, in the airport buildings on Vava'u and 'Eua). Builds cup-shaped nest in cliffs, the entrance of caves or under the roofs of houses. The nest is made of mud with rootlets, grass and other fibres. The clutch usually comprises two eggs. The breeding season in Fiji is in the second half of the year. On Nomuka, swallows arrive around June and start breeding soon after.
STATUS IN TONGA: Not common, but apparently dispersing more widely than previously thought. Should be sought around and above airstrips of all islands, and along the coast westwards from Sopu, Tongatapu. May be seen around the coastal flats of southern Vava'u too.

RED SHINING PARROT, KOKI or KAKA (Prosopeia tabuensis)
DESCRIPTION: Spectacularly coloured bird: Head. neck, chest, abdomen and underparts glossy dark red, shaded round bill and eyes. Upperback and wings are bright emerald green. Blue patch at nape of neck; wing edges and tail also blue. Powerful black bill. Orange eyes.
OVERALL LENGTH: 46 cm (18")
DISTRlBUTION: Larger islands of Fiji except Viti Levu and Kadavu.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Introduced to Tonga prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Pacific. Established only on 'Eua. A few escapees may be seen in Toloa forest and around Popua on Tongatapu. Some have been released on Pangaimotu and FafÓ north of Tongatapu.
HABITAT: Found in forest and plantation. Feeds on fruits, seeds, berries and insects gathered in the canopy. Solitary or in pairs. Nests in excavated holes in rotten wood. Two or three rounded white eggs are laid.
STATUS IN TONGA: The population on 'Eua is apparently stable at around 1000 indtviduals. Long-term prospects for the species on 'Eua are not good, because forest destruction is continuing and many chicks are taken from the nests. The red feathers are in high demand to decorate mats.
A programme is under way to release Red Shining Parrots on either Tofua. Kao or both islands. Such a programme involves great expense because parrots which are hand-raised or bred in captivity, need to be trained for a life in the wild.

BLUE-CROWNED LORIKEET, HENGA (Vini australis)
DESCRIPTION: A small green parrot with a blue crown, a red throat and red abdominal patch. It's characteristic shrill screech makes identification easy even over long distances. Bill and feet are yellow.
OVERALL LENGTH: 18 cm (7")
DISTRIBUTION: Western Polynesia and south of Oneata, Lau group of Fiji.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Not native to Tonga. Visitor to the main Ha'apai islands. Visitor also to 'Eueiki and from there to the village of Niutoua on nearby Tongatapu. Most abundant on Niuafo ou, Niuatoputapu, Tafahi.
HABITAT: Always in pairs or small groups, lorikeets keep contact with each other by uttering their shrill calls. They are very active birds, feed ing on nectar and pollen of flowers, but also take soft ripe fruit. Larger numbers can be seen in flowering trees such as the Coral Tree (Ngatae). Blue-crowned Lorikeets are very strong fliers, which can fly between islands. The longest distance between two islands, which lorikeets were observed to cover, was about 20 km.
Lorikeets nest in hollow trees and other kinds of cavities, for example in cliffs, in the crowns of coconut palms and even on the ground. They have no particular breeding season and lay one or two pure white eggs.
STATUS IN TONGA: Unfortunately, these gorgeous birds have disappeared from the larger Tongan islands after the accidental introduction of roof rats (Rattus rattus). These rats eat eggs and chicks in the nests, and also kill incubating adults. On islands, which are free of roof rats, Blue-crowned Lorikeets are common. They are more abundant on inhabited islands, because human agri- and horticulture provide rich sources of food (especially flowers of coconut palms) all year round. The species is particularly abundant on Niuafo`ou.

PACIFIC PIGEON, LUPE (Ducula pacifica)
DESCRIPTION: Head neck and upper mantle pale grey. From chin to abdomen washed with pinkish iridescence. Underparts buff. Wings, back and tail glossy olive green. Legs and feet red. Bill is black and topped with a black fleshy wattle which is diagnostic.
OVERALL LENGTH: 35 cm (14")
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread from small islands off Papua New Guinea throughout Melanesia and Western Polynesia to the Cook Islands in the east.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: May be seen on every island, even close to human habitation. Common only on well-forested islands ('Eua, Tofua, Kao, Late, Niuafo'ou), even on some smaller ones such as Hunga Ha'apai and 'Ata. On the latter, Pacific Pigeon, Polynesian Starling and Common Barn Owl are the only indigenous bird species.
HABITAT: Feeds on fruits of large trees in forest canopy or beach vegetation. Flies between islands. A single white egg is laid on a platform of bare twigs.

PURPLE-CROWNED FRUIT DOVE, KULUKULU (Ptilinopus porphyraceus)
DESCRIPTlON: Purple crown extending forwards to bill is diagnostic. Head, mantle and chest are greenish-grey. Throat faintly barred. Back, wings and tail are of darker green contrasting with yellow underparts, purple splash on abdomen. Immature are entirely green.
OVERALL LENGTH: 22 cm (8 1/2 ░)
DISTRlBUTION: West Polynesia, Fiji and Federated States of Micronesia (Truk, Pohnpei and Kosrae).
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On most islands of Tonga. Seen widely on even the smallest islands, though generally only as a visitor.
HABITAT: A bird of forest canopy and plantation. Flight swift. with rapid short wing beats. Lays a single pure white egg on an insubstantial twig platform.
STATUS IN TONGA: Common on most islands, but rarely seen due to its green colouration. More often, its characteristic call, from which its Tongan name derived, can be heard.

MANY-COLOURED FRUIT DOVE, MANUMA'A (Ptilinopus perousii)
DESCRIPTION: Male very pale yellowish white, with a bold crimson band across upper back. Cap and undertail coverts also crimson. Female dark green above, with grey-green head and underparts, crimson cap, red and yellow undertail covert. Immature bird is dull green.
OVERALL LENGTH: 23 cm (9")
DISTRIBUTION: Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On a few islands only, Recorded on 'Eua, Lifuka and Late. May also occur on Tongatapu, Tofua, Kao and 'Uta Vava'u.
HABITAT: Found in forest canopy. One or two pure white eggs are laid on a small fragile platform of twigs.
STATUS IN TONGA:  Common only on Late. On 'Eua its numbers declined sharply in the 1980's. Not common on Lifuka. Its status on Tofua, Kao, 'Uta Vava'u and Tongatapu is unknown, but obviously, it is very rare, if present at all, on these islands.
The causes of the species' decline are unknown, but competition with the ecologically similar Purple-crowned Fruit Dove may be a major factor. The latter is much better adapted to changes, which humans have caused, while in a pristine environment (as on Late), both live in an ecological equilibrium.

FRIENDLY GROUND-DOVE, TU (Gallicolumba stairii)
DESCRIPTION: A small, brown pigeon, which spends much time on the forest floor. In both sexes head and chest are buff with back, wings and abdomen a graduating darker brown. The female has a faint green lustre over back and wings. The male has a faint purple lustre over back and wings, and pale breast shield, edged with white. Tail in both sexes is brown. Bill, black, legs pink. Males are larger than females and their plumage is slightly brighter. There is a rare all brown female colour morph.
OVERALL LENGTH: 26 cm (10")
DISTRIBUTION: Tonga, Fiji, Alofi (French Territory of Wallis & Futuna), Western and American Samoa.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: On a very few remote islands only. During the 1990's only found on Fonualet, Toku, Late and Hunga Tonga but also reported from Hunga Ha'apai. In 1925 also on Kao, Kelefesta, Tonumea, Telekitonga, Nomuka'iki and Euakafa but not recorded on these islands in the 1990's.
In 1992 and 1993 the Brehm Fund released captive-bred ground dove on Lalona ('Otu Tolu group), 'Ata and Kalau. It is yet to be ascertained whether these releases resulted in the establishment of a healthy population on any of these three islands.
HABITAT: Friendly Ground Doves are birds of the forest, where they spend most of their time on the ground. Here they find seeds and small fruits, but they occasionally forage in bushes and trees. On Fonualei it may also be found in scattered low bush on lava fields. The call is a very low coo, repeated several times. The nest is a fragile structure made from a few twigs and leaves located in bushes or in the whirl of epiphytic ferns, especially in bird-nest ferns (genus Asplenium). The eggs are pure white, and the clutch always comprises two eggs. The chicks hatch after an incubation period of two weeks, and another two weeks later, they fledge. Breeding season is from August to November.
STATUS IN TONGA: The Friendly Ground-Dove is very common on the few islands where it still occurs. It clearly suffers from forest destruction, hunting and predation by introduced cats. The birds are very tame and confident and are easy prey for cats and humans. Its future in Tonga depends on the protection of islands such as Fonualei, Late, Hunga Ha'apai and Hunga Tonga. The most important protective measure would be to prevent the introduction of cats. At present, a programme is under way to introduce ground doves to some islands which seem to be suitable such as Kalua south of 'Eua: Luamoko in the Vava'u group and Ata, Tonga's southernmost and remotest island, or to the 'Otu Tolu group on southern Ha'apai.

SPOTLESS CRAKE, MORO (Porzana tabuensis)
DESCRIPTION: A small rail with red legs and feet, and black bill. It has a grey wash to the neck, head and underparts and dark brown mantle and wings. Immature birds have white marks on the chest and abdomen.
OVERALL LENGTH: 15 cm (6")
DISTRIBUTION: From the Philippines and Australia to Polynesia.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Originally from Niuafo'ou, Fonualei, Late and Hunga Ha'apai. Now probably extinct in Tonga.
HABITAT: Found in coastal marshes, fern covered hillsides and secondary forests. Swims well. Elusive and shy. active at dawn and dusk.

PURPLE SWAMPHEN, KALAE (Porphyrio porphyrio)
DESCRIPTION: A large glossy purple-blue bird with long red legs, and a bright red bill and frontal shield. Flicks tail while walking, making white undertail conspicuous. Chicks are black.
OVERALL LENGTH: 37 cm (14 1/2 ")
DISTRIBUTION: From Africa and south-west Europe east to Samoa and Niue. Also in Australia and New Zealand.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Present on almost every island, even on tiny coral islets.
HABITAT: Found in river or pond habitats and sometimes in mature forest. They prefer to run rather than fly. Usually found alone or in pairs. The nests are built far from water in suitable thick vegetation on the ground. Three or four buff-coloured blotched eggs in the clutch.

SWAMP HARRIER, TAISENI (Circus approximans)
DESCRIPTION: A large bird of prey, which appears all brown from the distance. Unlikely to be confused with any other bird in Tonga.
OVERALL LENGTH: 56 cm (22")
DISTRIBUTION: From Australia and New Guinea to Fiji and Tonga.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Known only from Tofua and Kao, but single birds have been seen on Niuafo'ou, Tongatapu and 'Ata. Reported from Tafahi.
HABITAT: Prefers open country. Usually seen soaring or hovering on wings held high in a characteristic V conformation. Feeds on a variety of animals and on carrion. Nests on the ground in swamp or marshes.
STATUS IN TONGA: An uncommon bird. There are certainly not more than 100 in Tonga.

RED JUNGLE FOWL, MOA KAIVAO (Gallus gallus)
DESCRIPTION: Like a small, slim version of the familiar domestic chicken, but less variable. The male has a beautiful iridescent, multi-coloured plumage with bright orange neck and rump hackles, a maroon mantle and glossy blue wing coverts. The lustrous green tail has long arching feathers. The female is an inconspicuous brown bird with buff and black barring. The chicks are buff with disruptive black markings on the back.
OVERALL LENGTH: 37 cm (14 2 ") Add 20 cm (8") for male to allow for tail feathers.
DISTRIBUTION: The Red Jungle Fowl is a bird of south-east Asia. Where it was domesticated, and then dispersed by humans to many places in the world.
HABITAT:  Truly wild chickens are very shy, more often heard than seen. On most islands they inhabit remote undisturbed forests.

BANDED RAIL, VEKA (Gallirallus philippensis)
DESCRIPTION: A large, strong-billed rail with a prominent reddish-brown crown, nape and stripe through eye. Eyebrow, throat and upper breast grey, belly and flanks barred black and white. Immature birds have similar plumage but are duller, whilst the precocious young have black down.
OVERALL LENGTH: 30 cm (12")
DISTRIBUTION: From the Philippines and Indonesia throughout the Pacific, eastwards to Samoa and Niue.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Common on most islands, even on tiny coral islets.
HABITAT: Commonly seen along roadsides or in wet grassy fields or marshes. Runs well, rarely flies. Pairs frequently call back and forth while foraging. A flimsy nest is generally built in this vegetation, or under the protection of overhanging branches or tree limbs. Four to six heavily blotched pinkish brown eggs are laid.

TONGAN MEGAPODE, MALAU (Megapodius pritchardii)
DESCRIPTION: A plain, grey-brown chickenlike bird with short crest. The tail is short and the orangeyellow legs are distinctively sturdy. The head appears disproportionately small with a strong yellow bill. Immature birds are brown above with dark tan marking and pale buff below.
OVERALL LENGTH: 28 cm (11")
DISTRIBUTION: Lives only on Niuafo'ou, Tonga's northernmost island, and nowhere else in the world. It is the only Tongan bird species, which is restricted to a single island.
HABITAT: Feeds on the ground, usually on steep forested slopes. Flies only when disturbed or pursued. Breeds year-round, laying eggs communally in tunnels in volcanic ash near steam vents. Apparently takes advantage of volcanic heat to incubate eggs. The "nest" is not attended by adults, the young birds making their own way to the surface where they are immediately independent and able to fly.
STATUS IN TONGA: Less than 1000 survive on Niuafo'ou, where they are restricted to the caldera.

PACIFIC REEF HERON, MOTUKU (Egretta sacra)
DESCRIPTION: A large shorebird which occurs in a white, a dark grey and an intermediate colour morph. Intermediate birds vary greatly in the amount of white and dark parts of their plumage.
OVERALL LENGTH: 60 cm (23 1/2")
DISTRIBUTION: From India east to New Zealand and throughout the tropical Pacific to the Tuamotu Island, French Polynesia.
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Along the coast of every island, also at lagoons and freshwater lakes.
HABITAT: Forages alone or in pairs on exposed reefs and mudflats: in taro patches and ponds, and along freshwater streams inland. Often perches on rocks and pilings. Nests in small groups inland in trees or on rock ledges.
STATUS IN TONGA: Common throughout Tonga. The dark morph is more numerous than the white one. Intermediately coloured birds are rare.

GREY DUCK, TOLOA (Anas superciliosa) 
DESCRIPTION: A dark brownish grey bird, wich cannot be confused with any other Tongan bird. It has a conspicious striped face pattern. 
OVERALL LENGTH: 54 cm (21") 
DISTRIBUTION: Throughout Australasia and the Pacific. 
OCCURRENCE IN TONGA: Has been recorded on several islands, but common only on Tongatapu, Nomuka, Late and Niuafo'ou. In smaller numbers in Toula and 'Uta Vava'u. 
HABITAT: Lives on lakes, lagoons and rarely along coasts. Particularly common where the sea is fringed by mangroves. 

SOME COMMON SEABIRDS OF TONGATAPU (HUFANGALUPE)

BROWN BOOBY, NGUTULEI, Sula leucogaster
Dark brown plumage contrasting with white lower chest, abdomen and underwings. Bill and feet vary from yellow to green. Colonial breeder, nests being shallow depressions in the ground. Eggs are pale green and covered with a chalky substance.
OVERALL LENGTH: 75 cm (29 1/2")

BROWN NODDY, NGONGO, Anous stolidus
Dark brown with darker primaries. Wedge-shaped tail and a pale cap. Name is derived from the courtship ritual where both sexes 'nod' to display pale caps. Often flies low over water, especially at dusk. Nest is a mass of twigs and seaweed in a tree or bush, or on the ground.
OVERALL LENGTH: 39 cm (15 1/2")

FAIRY TERN, `EKIAKI, Gygis alba
Pure white bird with black bill, feet and large black eyes. Wings appear translucent in flight. Tail is forked. Often seen in groups out to sea feeding on small surface fish. No nest is built, the single egg being laid on a rock ledge or a tree branch.
OVERALL LENGTH: 32 cm (12 1/2")

GREAT FRIGATE BIRD, HELEKOSI,LOFA, Fregata minor
All black except for white throat/breast (female) and scarlet throat sac (male) the throat sac is inflated in display. Bill is long and hooked at the end. Seen soaring and gliding over coast and sea on long, angled, pointed wings. Nest is a frail platform of twigs low in a bush or tree.
* The name "minor" derives from the bird's original name: The lesser pelican. 
OVERALL LENGTH: 100 cm (39")

WHITE TAILED TROPIC BIRD, TAVAKE, Phaethon lepturus
Delicate, slender white birdwith black bars on upper wings. Conspicuous long white tail streamers are diagnostic. Bill is yellow or orange. Feeds on small fish and squid, usually far out to sea, often following ships. No nest is constructed the egg being laid on a rock ledge or in a tree fork, usually inland.
OVERALL LENGTH: 40 cm (16") - Excluding tail streamers of 30 cm (12")

Many of these birds maybe seen at the Tongan Wildlife Centre - Nuka'alofa, Tonga
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