sea-birds on the French Polynesian atolls
Sula sula L.
frequently nest on the atolls, forming colonies of
up to more than 100 pairs. They build their nests at all
possible heights in bushes, shrubs and trees. The
reproductive season tends to spread over the whole year.
Sula sula L.ua’ao.
Tikehau, 3 colonies consisting of about 120 pairs in all
were watched and provided with dry Pisonia branches.
Sula leucogaster Boddaert kena
this species nest on the Tuamotu atolls, they are never present in
very large numbers. Their roughly-constructed nests are to be
found on the ground, near the sea. On Tikehau, a few individuals
are frequently seen flying over the lagoon and sometimes stop
there to rest, but no sign of a brown gannet's nest has ever been
detected on this atoll.
Fregata minor Gmelin
lives and reproduces on several atolls, but there are
rarely more than a few dozen mates on a given atoll. The nests are
built on the upper branches of trees and bushes.
separate group of fifteen or so individuals was observed on
Tikehau in October 1984, but no signs of nest-building were
Fregata ariel Gray
information is available about this species in the Polynesian
atolls. The members of this species nest under the same conditions
as the great frigate, but when there is cohabitation between the
two species, the ariel frigate's nests are always located at lower
levels than those of the great frigate. This species can be seen
frequently on Tikehau, where it presumably nests. Fifty or so
individuals were counted on that atoll in October 1984.
terns nest on the atolls in colonies of several hundreds of
individuals. They feed near the shores, and rarely out on the open
seas. A small isolated colony of fifty or so adults living
completely apart from all other bird species was discovered on
Tikehau in October 1984.
Sterna fuscata Linné
members of this species nest on all the archipelagos of eastern
Polynesia, where they are probably the most common species. Large
colonies of sooty terns have been reported to inhabit the various
atolls, and yet no trace of their nests has ever been found on
Tikehau. These birds tend to feed out on the open seas, where they
can be frequently seen. The Paumotu people consider their eggs to
be a great delicacy.
Sterna bergii Lichtenstein
this species nests in the atolls, it is to be found in only a few
places. The crested stern feed in lagoons and shallow coastal
waters, and are therefore rarely to be seen out at sea. Two small
colonies consisting of 20 and 28 adults were spotted on Tikehau in
Procelsterna coerulea F.D. Bennett
blue noddy is known to nest on the Tuamotu atolls, but very few of
its nesting places have ever been detected. The nests are
sometimes located near the water's edge, but they have also been
found further inland. This species is reluctant to leave these
islands, where it likes to nest and feed. Only a few individuals
have been regularly observed on Tikehau, however, and no nests
built by these birds have ever been found there.
Anous stolidus L.
brown noddy nests on most of the atolls, and large
colonies are to be found living far from the places of
human activity. These birds sometimes feed in the lagoon
waters, but seem to prefer fishing out on the open seas,
in large groups consisting of several species. The
presence of these groups enables the Paumotu fishermen to
locate the shoals of fish.
is one of the most abundant nesting species on Tikehau,
where approximately 800 nests were counted. The nests are
broad and flat: they are built on trees and shrubs of
various kinds, and very occasionally on the ground.
Anous tenuirostris Temminck
black noddy also nests on many of the atolls. Three colonies of
800 nests in all were observed by bird-watchers on Tikehau: their
numbers are therefore similar to those of the brown noddy. However,
the nests of this species differ from those of the brown noddy,
since they are small and bowl-shaped, and made with the leaves of Pisonia
grandis, the trees in which the colonies build their nests.
The main feeding-grounds of this species seems to be the coastal
and lagoon waters.
Gygis alba Sparrman
are extremely common in Polynesia, and occur in large
numbers on the most uninhabited and sparsely inhabited
islands. These birds nest either separately or in colonies
on the atolls, in trees without actually building any
nests. The reproductive period is spread out over the
whole year. The white tern often feed out on the open seas,
several kilometres from the coast. The fishermen know them
to be reliable indicators to the presence of fish.
Tikehau, approximately a thousand individuals were counted,
including about 500 reproductive adults. They are to be
found everywhere on the atoll.
Pterodroma neglecta Schlegel
on the accounts available, some Kermadec petrel are to be found
living on the atolls, especially in the south-eastern Tuamotu.
They have been seen nesting on the atoll of Maria on the ground,
under the bushes. This is a pelagic species most of the time,
apart from the reproductive season.
Pterodroma ultima Murphy
petrel have been reported to nest on Mururoa and Fangataufa, and
they may possibly nest on other islands as well. The nest is
simply a hollow in the sand or a space hollowed out in the bushes.
This is a pelagic species, except during the reproductive period.
Phaeton rubricauda Boddaert
species nests on the Tuamotu atolls, but the numbers
amount to only a few hundred of pairs per island. These
birds form colonies on beaches. They tend to feed out on
the open seas, several tens of kilometres from
the colonies in which they live.
Sula dactylatra Lesson
Masked Booby, of which there are very few on the atolls,
tend to nest mainly on uninhabited islands and islets. Their nests
are made of earth and twigs. This species is mainly to be found on
the south-eastern Tuamotu atolls.
to the atolls
Stercorarius pomarinus Temminck
Pomarine Jaeger is an extremely rare visitor to Polynesia: a
specimen analysed in 1921 showed that it once visited this part of
the world, however. A single individual was then reported to have
been seen on Tikehau in October 1984, flying near the reef towards
Pterodroma rostrata Peale
petrel nest only on the volcanic islands of Polynesia in burrows
dug out at high altitudes. These birds can often be seen far out
at sea, several tens of kilometres from their nesting sites, and
sometimes they reach the waters surrounding the atolls.
Diomedea exulans L.
Wandering Albatross has been seen only very occasionally in Polynesia,
but the fact that this bird does visit the atolls was confirmed
when a dead bird was found on Taiaro in 1971 and identified
as a great albatros.
Diomedea epomorpha Lesson
royal albatross is another very infrequent visitor to the atolls,
but here again, a dead bird found on Tematangi in 1970 was found
to belong to this species.
albatross Diomedea melanophris
fact that two tagged members of this species were found on Arutua
and Tekokoto shows that these birds may occasionally visit the
Macronectes giganteus Gmelin
Giant Petrel frequently land on the atolls during the southern summer,
but in most cases, these birds are exhausted by their travels and
those which are found are either dead or dying.
This species has been observed on the island of Hao.
Pterodroma leucoptera Gould
petrel have been seen on very occasionally around the atolls, but
according to two particularly trustworthy reports, they have
visited the Tuamotu atolls on two different occasions.
Puffinus tenuirostris Temminck
specimen identified as belonging to this species was collected on
the Tuamotu atolls back in 1906.