In Pursuit of Kadavu’s feathered friends
From a brightly coloured endemic parrot to flocks of rowdy seabirds, Kadavu’s diverse birdlife is one of its many attractions. Unleash your inner Attenborough on a birding quest through the island’s dense rainforests, mangrove warrens and muddy coastal flats to observe some of these beautiful birds up close.
To the uninitiated, spending hours scanning the canopy for sightings of rare birds is not particularly exciting. But birders know that their unusual hobby often leads them to some pretty exotic places.
Kadavu is one such place. Fiji’s bird fauna is small and Kadavu supports only a fraction of the country’s 81 land and freshwater bird species. But their rarity and vulnerable population sizes are precisely why you should visit.
Kadavu’s Endemic Birds
At the top of your Kadavu birding list should be it’s 4 endemics. Here’s a rundown of the island’s avian stars.
Kadavu Shining Parrot (Prosopeia splendens),
Fiji’s flamboyant shining musk parrots are a clutter of vivid blues, reds, yellows and greens. The Kadavu species differs slightly from its close cousins by a crimson head and breast with an attractive blue collar on its nape. The bird’s brilliant red feathers were at the centre of a booming trade with Tonga and Samoa in the 1800s which has thankfully ceased. Flocks of this noisy bird can be found feasting on seeds, fruits and flower buds in forests and farms.
Kadavu Honeyeater (Xanthotis provocator),
Cloaked in a drab olive brown coat, the Kadavu honeyeater is easily mistaken for Fiji’s Spotted honeyeater. The bird’s light green eye patch is the best way to tell them apart.
Kadavu Fantail (Rhipidura personata)
The absence of 3 small spots on its exposed fantail differentiate this small bird from the closely related Streaked fantail in the rest of Fiji. Look for the Kadavu version in lowland coastal forests where it is usually foraging for insects.
Kadavu Whistling Dove (Chrysoenas layardi)
The Kadavu whistling dove is the most primitive of Fiji’s trio of striking ‘golden doves’. Their yellow-head and velvety green plumage make them hard to see in the forest but you’ll instantly locate them by their distinctive whistle.
While you’re out and about, keep an eye out for other Fijian endemic birds that call Kadavu home; like the Fiji Goshawk, Peale’s ‘barking’ pigeon, the Collared Lory and several others. Fergus Clunies ‘Birds of the Fiji Bush’ is an excellent resource if you’d like to learn more.
Kadavu is also a haven for seabirds and shearwaters, petrels, terns, herons and frigates can be spotted roaming remote coastal flats and small islets. Tiny, uninhabited Yabu island (‘Birdland’) just north of Ono island – is one of Fiji’s largest booby rookeries. One of the best experiences on Ono is a sunset cruise to the island where you’ll see the sky darken with hundreds of red-footed and brown boobies returning from the hunt to roost for the night.
Before you get there, let your resort know you’re a keen birder and ask them to organize a knowledgeable local guide.
Taveuni and Viti Levu are Fiji’s other bird hotspots.
If you’re short on time, Kula Wild Adventure Park in the Coral Coast (Viti Levu) has an aviary and bird breeding program for some of Fiji’s native birds.