Country/territory: Tonga

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A4i, A4iii (2012)
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Area: 403 ha

Site description
Fonualei IBA comprises the whole island of Fonualei which supports a recently established population of the Tongan megapode Megapodius pritchardii, and another globally threatened species, the friendly ground-dove Gallicolumba stairi. The island is an isolated active volcano, approximately 200 ha in area and the megapodes lay their eggs in soil heated by volcanic ducts. The sooty tern Sterna fusca nests in very large numbers on the island and two restricted range species, the wattled honeyeater Foulehaio carunculata and the Polynesian starling Aplonis tabuensis occur on the island.

Key biodiversity
Fonualei is known primarily for its large colony of sooty tern Sterna fuscata which was estimated at over 100,000 in 1980 (Jenkins 1980). In 2003, there were three colonies on the island, the largest in the crater was over one hectare in area and quite densely packed (Watling 2003). More recently, Fonualei has become better known because of the successful translocation to the island of the Tongan megapode Megapodius pritchardii (Beaudry et al. 1997; Watling 2003) by Dieter Rinke and staff of the Tongan Wildlife Centre in 1993. Also occurring on the island is the friendly ground-dove Gallicolumba stairi, the wattled honeyeater Foulehaio carunculata and the Polynesian starling Aplonis tabuensis. The Whitney South Seas Expedition collected on the island, August 25 1925, their collections included a vagrant pintail duck Anas acuta, the only record ever in the region.

Non-bird biodiversity: There is no plant list for Fonualei and nothing recorded on faunal groups other than the birds.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Fonualei. Downloaded from on 08/12/2021.