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Fatu Hiva Monarch


Photos Thomas Ghestemme

Jeune Monarque de Fatu Hiva©Robert Luta

Jeune Monarque de Fatu Hiva©Robert Luta

8 inches. The adults of both genders are entirely black. Its beak is blue slate and the legs are blue. Its tail is quite long compared to that of other monarchs. It nods jerkily very frequently. The young is light brown with a white belly. Unlike all other monarchs, young adults have small feathers raised in spikes above the eyes, which form prominent eyebrows.

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Monarchidae

Category: Endemic Birds


Endemic to Fatu Hiva.


Seen in all types of forests up to 750 meters high, but seeks for areas where foliage is dense and lush. Fond of mango forest (Mangifera indica) and purau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) and prefers the lower valleys to summit bushes.

The dominant call resembles the mewing of a cat. Sometimes it alternates the sound with strong and shrill whistling. It is usually more discreet than other monarchs. It does not systematically alarm visitors who pass through its territory, but answers and approaches if its cry is not heard.

To listen the Fatu Hiva Monarch:

Mainly insectivore, sometimes gecko tails.

Monarque de Fatu Hiva_2017@Robert Luta

Monarque de Fatu Hiva au nid @Robert Luta

Breeding takes place several times a year, one young is raised nest.

Monarque de Fatu Hiva et son petit©Robert Luta

Monarque de Fatu Hiva et son petit ©Robert Luta

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.



Scientific Name: Pomarea whitneyi  Murphy & Mathews, 1928

Polynesian Names:
‘Oma’o ke’e ke’e (Fatu Hiva)

  • Marquesas (Fatu Hiva only


The species is critically endangered. The island of Fatu Hiva was colonized by the black rat in the 90’s, which seriously undermines its chances of survival in the short term. Predation by cats is a second cause of disappearance. There remained 920 (550-1550) individuals on Fatu Hiva (2002) but there are only 24 birds in protected areas in 2018.
Couples number grows from 3 to 6 between 2015 and 2018.
Drastic management measures for the species have been introduced by the SOP since 2008. They include a reproductive monitoring of these monarchs, rats and feral cats controls of the village of Omoa where the largest population of this bird persists. SOP veterinary also practices ovariectomies in the cats of the village.
More than 20 young were born in the last 5 years which gives great hopes for the survival of the species.

The species is listed in category A, the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
It is classified as “Critically Endangered” (CR) on the IUCN Red List.