Kwajalein Birds

These pages show some of the birds we have seen in the Marshall Islands, most of them at or around Kwajalein Atoll. They include sea birds, shore birds, and a couple of introduced land birds. Some are migratory, most of them coming to Kwajalein during only part of the year, while others can be seen year round. Still others are accidental or occasional visitors. These pages by no means cover all the birds that have been observed here at one time or another, and not all references agree on what is here. A 1990 paper by R.B. Clapp (linked below) lists Kwajalein birds previously reported in the scientific literature, plus those recorded by an avid atoll resident named Bill Schipper in addition to those Clapp himself and his team observed on a trip to the atoll in March, 1988, but at least four of our species are not on Clapp's list. A 2018 web listing from Avibase by Denis Lepage gives 104 bird species that have been sighted in the Marshall Islands, including all those we cover here. Many species from the above lists are uncommon or rare vagrant species that only sporadically show up in the atoll. I was once startled to see about 10 common pigeons (Rock Doves, or Columba livia) walking along one of the streets of Kwajalein. I did not have a camera and never saw them again, but I certainly know what a pigeon looks like. They must have just been passing through and just stopped for a rest.

Acridotheres tristis
Indian Mynah

Anas acuta
Northern Pintail

Mareca americana
American Wigeon

Spatula clypeata
Northern Shoveler

Anous minutus
White-capped Noddy

Anous stolidus
Brown Noddy

Arenaria interpres
Ruddy Turnstone

Aythya fuligula
Tufted Duck

Calidris pugnax

Egretta sacra
Pacific Reef Heron
black phase

Egretta sacra
Pacific Reef Heron
white phase

Egretta sacra
Pacific Reef Heron
mottled phase

Fregata minor

Gallus gallus

Gygis alba
White Tern

Himantopus himantopus
Black-winged Stilt

Limosa lapponica
Bar-tailed Godwit

Numenius phaeopus

Numenius tahitiensis
Bristle-thighed Curlew

Passer montanus
Eusasian Tree Sparrow

Phaethon lepturus
White-tailed Tropicbird

Phaethon rubricauda
Red-tailed Tropicbird

Pluvialis fulva
Golden Plover
non-breeding plumage

Pluvialis fulva
Golden Plover
breeding plumage

Puffinus pacificus
Wedge-tail Shearwater

Sterna sumatrana
Black-naped Tern

Sula dactylatra
Masked Booby

Sula leucogaster
Brown Booby

Sula sula
Red-footed Booby

Thalasseus bergii
Greater Crested Tern

Tringa incana
Wandering Tattler
non-breeding plumage

Tringa incana
Wandering Tattler
breeding plumage

Urodynamis taitensis

Long-tailed Cuckoo


Clapp, R.B. 1990. Notes on the Birds of Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 342. 94pp.

Our thanks to Stan Jazwinski, Dave Greene, and Christina Sylvester who provided photos of several species we did not see or photograph ourselves.

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