Birds of Taveuni, Fiji by Kate Kelly

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A few days after settling in at Nakia Resort and Dive 
(http://www.nakiafiji.com), my brother and 
sister-in-law’s resort on the Fijian island of Taveuni, 
I began to think about getting up into the bush to see 
what we could find in the way of avian life.  
After making a phone call or two, my sister Joyce 
and I set out at 5 am on a quiet and cool June morning to 
look for forest birds.  Our birdwatching guide, Logi,  
knows the forests above his native village of Qeleni, 
so we headed first for the village and then up a steep, 
3-mile rocky path with an experienced bush driver as 
the sun was beginning to appear over the mountains.
The land we entered is owned by the village, and was 
once a large coconut plantation--back when copra 
was the major cash crop for the islands.  This large 
mountainous area is filled with rivers and scattered 
homesites, many belonging to villagers growing patches 
of dalo on the hillsides.  Dalo (a dry-land type 
of Taro) is Fiji’s new cash crop, an edible tuberous 
root that many Fijians grow on cleared hillsides to 
provide an income for the coming year. 
Halfway up the bumpy road, Logi told our driver to stop as we 
spotted a pair of Masked (aka Musk) Shining Parrots 
flying across the canopy.  We climbed further and 
left the van at a high spot with lots of low-growing vines, 
grasses, and shrubs, and clusters of Rain Tree, 
Coconut Palm, Flame Tree, Acacia, Hibiscus, and Breadfruit.  
Most of the birds we spotted have multiple names in both 
English and Fijian.  Where I could, I took the 
names from Dick Watling’s Guide to the Birds of Fiji and 
Western Polynesia, a recognized standard, 
but not readily available.  Logi used an older edition of 
Fergus Clunie, Birds of the Fiji Bush.  Many of 
the birds we saw are forest birds that have been identified 
as threatened or endangered by Vilikesa T. Masibalavu 
and Guy Dutson in Important Birds Areas in Fiji. We heard 
and got a good look at a Barking Pigeon (whose call could also 
be mistaken for an owl), Polynesian Triller, 
Lesser Shrikebill, Spotted Fantail, Golden Whistler, Vanikoro Broadbill, 
Ogea Flycatcher, Wattled Honeyeater, Red Junglefowl, White-collared 
Kingfisher, Polynesian Starling, a pair of Lorikeets (brief glimpse), 
Pacific Harrier, Yellow (orange-)breasted Honeyeater, and many White-rumped 
Swiftlets darting for insects.  
As we walked back down the trail, the mountains 
were full of bird calls, the sun had risen over the ocean, 
and the air was still cool with a touch of fog approaching 
from the north. 
Over the next two weeks of my stay on Taveuni, I watched Fruit Bats fly over the

Somosomo Strait from south to north every evening, and learned to listen for the 
resort’s magpies chortling high up in the palms.  At the island’s more agriculturally 
developed southern end, I saw an Orange-Breasted Myzomela, more parrots 
(probably Red Shining parrot), Brown Quail (with chicks), Collared Lory, either a 
Fiji White-Eye or Silvereye, and several sea birds. 
The Fijian government recognizes that these birds are a treasure.  
It has been encouraging Fijians to preserve bird habitat, but 
that habitat is also the source of many Fijians’ income for the year.  
Deforestation and bush clearing for planting dalo are 
endangering many of these birds, including the Silktail, which 
many birders hope to see when they visit.  
While I didn’t get a glimpse of either the Silktail or the spectacular 
Orange Dove, a must-see for many visitors, it was awesome to view 
and hear these beautiful birds living easily and in close proximity to 
human dwellings. Like so many eco-tourist destinations today, 
Fiji is trying to convince its people to sacrifice income from a cash 
crop (dalo) to protect the future of its most vulnerable and unique 
natural resources. 
I left the island hoping that the work and warnings of dedicated 
researchers and enthusiasts, together with the income from ecotourism, 
will create the will to celebrate, protect, and extend the future of these 
beautiful native birds. 
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