Birds of the Pacific: A Birder's Checklist


This work in progress is a list of the birds of the Pacific Region (defined below) that I am putting together from many sources. Hopefully these sources are adequately acknowledged; please advise if there is a deficiency. Click here for a Bibliography . The order of families generally follows Roberson. The checklist is in 18 parts, linked below.

The checklist can be searched with your browser's "Find" tool; distribution is generally described using major island group names with specific islands in parentheses, such as "NZ (NI, SI, Stewart I)" or "Galapagos Is (Fernandina, Bartolome)". Note that "NZ" is used for "New Zealand". Subantarctic islands and other single islands are listed as, for example, Snares Is, Guadelupe I, Lord Howe I. Common abbreviations used include: F: Finding information; Res: Resident; Cas: Casual; Acc: Accidental; Extirp: Extirpated; int: introduced; reint: re-introduced; NI: North Island; SI: South Island.

In common with most checklists designed for birders or others interested in birds, this checklist includes extant and recently-extinct taxa. While I am sympathetic to the goal of providing a complete list of the known Pacific avifauna, it is clear that inclusion of known pre-human avifauna might almost double the size of the present checklist. Because the most likely users of the checklist, birders and others interested in the current avifauna of a given Pacific location, are not concerned with extinct species, I have opted for the traditional approach of including only those species which became extinct after European contact (the "historic record"). Note that the AOU Checklist (1998) states under "Criteria for Inclusion" that "All species for which there is a published record or report of occurrence within the Checklist area are included", but there are no fossil species listed; it seems clear that the "historic record" is the basis for inclusion in that checklist too.

As mentioned above, only species which have become extinct since European contact are included herein. For much of the Pacific, this amounts to at most 200 years. Recent research, however, has made it abundantly clear that catastrophic extinctions have been underway since the first human occupation of most Pacific landmasses. Some major Pacific landmasses have been occupied by humans for only about 1000 years, notably the Polynesian outliers New Zealand and Hawaii, but also the eastern Polynesian archipelagoes. In all of these land masses there have been major extinctions of avifaunas which had evolved until very recently in the absence of human influences or avian predators. Holdaway (1999) indicated that the Pacific Rat (Rattus exulans) had been introduced to New Zealand (as well as most of the Pacific) by early transient visits and later settlement by Polynesians, and that New Zealand's avifauna, virtually all of which was vulnerable to predation by the rat, was thus exposed for almost 1000 years prior to the further depredations of European settlers. Worthy and Holdaway (2002) argue strongly that predation, initiated by the Pacific Rat well before permanent settlement of New Zealand by humans, is by far the major factor in the major extinctions of avifauna in New Zealand. A recent paper by Holdaway et al (2001) indicates that for New Zealand some 31% of the breeding species in place at the time of human arrival have become extinct; in considering the major New Zealand islands, North and South, the extinction rate rises to a remarkable 50% (Worthy and Holdaway 2002). Steadman (1995) made an amazing estimate of 2000 species (mostly flightless rails) becoming extinct in the tropical Pacific since human contact; a more recent estimate is about one-tenth as large (Curnutt and Pimm, in Scott et al 2001). Curnutt and Pimm estimate that the Pacific region held about 1500 [endemic] species prior to human contact, of which only some 332 remain, an extinction rate of about 78%. This phenomenon was also discussed by Watling (2001) in regard to Fiji and Western Polynesia, where humans first arrived about 3500 years ago, about the same time as Palau, Yap, and the Marianas were first occupied. The only landmasses included in the Pacific Region covered by this checklist that were occupied by humans prior to this are the Solomon Islands, first occupied about 30,000 years ago. The only studies in Northern Melanesia (Bismarck and Solomon Archipelagoes) are those of Steadman and Kirch (1998) and Steadman (1999 et al), summarized by Mayr and Diamond (2001). It appears that about 25% of the avifauna of those archipelagoes may have become extinct at most, in contrast with an estimated 75% in Polynesia (including NZ and Hawaii). Mayr and Diamond (2001) discuss reasons for this, notably the co-evolution with birds of native animals likely to prey on birds in the Solomons, thus allowing avifauna to develop defense mechanisms, minimal forest clearing using fire, and few non-native introductions of both birds and mammals.

PART I: Apterygidae through Podicipedidae
PART II: Diomedeidae through Procellariidae (Fulmars)
PART III: Procellariidae (Prions, Gadfly Petrels)
PART IV: Procellariidae (Shearwaters, Large Petrels) through Pelecanidae
PART V: Sulidae through Phoenicopteridae
PART VI: Anatidae through Accipitridae
PART VII: Falconidae through Gruidae
PART VIII: Rhynochetidae through Charadriidae
PART IX: Scolopacidae through Stercorariidae
PART X: Laridae through Pteroclididae
PART XI: Columbidae through Loriidae
PART XII: Psittacidae through Caprimulgidae
PART XIII: Apodidae through Picidae
PART XIV: Acanthisittidae through Pachycephalidae
PART XV: Corvidae through Rhipiduridae
PART XVI: Dicruridae through Regulidae
PART XVII: Sylviidae through Nectariniidae
PART XVIII: Zosteropidae through Thraupidae
PART XIX: Emberizidae through Estrildidae

The Pacific Region as defined here essentially includes the Pacific Ocean to within 200 miles of major land masses and south to 60S. Thus, starting at 60S due south of Punta Arenas at 70W, the boundary travels northward to include Juan Fernandez Is, San Ambrosio, Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos, Clipperton, Revillagigedos, Guadalupe (a slight exception to the 200-mile guideline), northward off North America and westward south of the Aleutian Is, southward east of the Kuriles to Japan, includes the southern Izu Is (Sumisu, Torishima, Sofu Gan), Ogasawara (Bonin) Is, and Iwo (Volcano) Is, southward just east of the Daito Is and east of the Philippines, eastward north of New Guinea, excluding the Bismarck Archipelago, but turning south to include Buka and Bougainville (but not Nissan) and the Solomons, but not the Louisade Archipelago, then south to a point off Brisbane to include the Chesterfields, and on to about 150E off Tasmania, including Lord Howe, and due south to 60S, to include Macquarie.

I would appreciate any new or corrected information that can be included. Feel free to contact me at