Rare, endemic, and unusual are all pretty special words to the twitchers or birdwatchers of the world. In the Kingdom of Tonga, millennia of isolation and many untouched remote islands conspire to make it one of the South Pacific’s best locations to observe unique avian species in the wild.
On the tiny island of Maninita in the northern Vava’u group, vast numbers of sea birds nest, their survival boosted by the excellent work of local enthusiasts in ridding the ancient forested atoll of destructive vermin. Maninita is now one of the South Pacific’s most important sea bird breeding environments, and its birdlife remains easy to view and unaffected by human influences.
Even further north on the isolated Vava’u island of Niuafo’ou, the rare and endemic Tongan Megapode incubates its eggs in the island’s volcanic heated earth.
Ancient and pristine rainforest on the verdant southern island of ‘Eua echoes with the call of the rare red-breasted Koki, or musk parrot. This beautiful bird was introduced to Tonga in prehistoric times when its red feathers were an incredibly valuable trade commodity.
Other endemic and unusual species to surprise and delight visitors include the Pacific swallow, Tongan whistler, Pacific pigeon and the Polynesian triller. Given the stellar avian line-up, it’s not surprising birdwatchers from across the globe are discovering Tonga’s abundant and unique birdlife.