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Rare Birds in the Caribbean

noting those found
during Focus On Nature Tours

Followed by a List of West Indian Birds 
that have become Extinct 

The following list, and data, 
were compiled by Armas Hill,
using classifications designated
by Birdlife International.
Criteria for the classifications
are at the end of this list.

A St. Vincent Parrot
photographed during the Dec 2007 FONT tour
In the Lesser Antilles.
Another photo of this species in the wild
follows below.
(Photo by Marie Gardner)

In the listing that follows, endemics to the various islands are noted. 
Those noted as endemic for the Dominican Republic are actually endemic to the island of Hispaniola. A number of these also occur in Haiti.


Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in the Caribbean     FONT Past Tour Highlights

A Caribbean Bird-List & Photo Gallery, in 2 Parts:
Part 1: Guineafowl to Hummingbirds     Part 2: Trogons to Buntings

Bird-Lists for:  
Cayman Islands
      Jamaica      Lesser Antilles    Puerto Rico     Dominican Republic

Islands where birds have been seen during FONT tours are noted in the following list.



Cuban Kite    Ridgway's Hawk    Zapata Rail    Grenada Dove    Puerto Rican Amazon     

Bahama Oriole
     Montserrat Oriole    

Classified as ENDANGERED: 

Black-capped Petrel     Gundlach's Hawk    Blue-headed Quail-Dove    Imperial Amazon     

Bay-breasted Cuckoo
Puerto Rican Nightjar     Giant Kingbird    Bahama Swallow

Zapata Wren    LaSelle Thrush     White-breasted Thrasher     Whistling Warbler     

Yellow-shouldered Blackbird
    Jamaican Blackbird    Cuban (or Zapata) Sparrow    

Saint Lucia Black Finch
     Hispaniolan Crossbill    Red Siskin    Eastern Chat-Tanager

Classified as VULNERABLE:

West Indian Whistling Duck    Ring-tailed Pigeon    White-fronted Quail-Dove    Gray-headed Quail-Dove

Hispaniolan Parakeet    Hispaniolan Amazon    Yellow-billed Amazon    Black-billed Amazon 

Red-necked Amazon    Saint Lucia Amazon    Saint Vincent Amazon    Yellow-shouldered Amazon

Fernandina's Flicker    White-necked Crow    Golden Swallow     Forest Thrush     Bicknell's Thrush    

Elfin Woods Warbler    Cerulean Warbler    Hispaniolan Highland Tanager    Western Chat-Tanager

Classified as NEAR-THREATENED:

Black Rail    Caribbean Coot    Piping Plover    Buff-breasted Sandpiper    White-crowned Pigeon    

Plain Pigeon    Crested Quail-Dove    Rose-throated Amazon    Least Poorwill    Bee Hummingbird    

Hispaniolan Trogon
     Guadeloupe Woodpecker    Hispaniolan Palm Crow    Blue Mountain Vireo

Cuban Solitaire    Golden-winged Warbler    Vitelline Warbler    Barbuda Warbler     Bahama Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler    Saint Lucia Oriole    Gray-crowned Palm Tanager

Species that are either now EXTINCT or assumed to be:

Jamaican Petrel    Eskimo Curlew    Cuban, or Hispaniolan Red Macaw  (& other psittacids)

Jamaican Poorwill    Brace's Hummingbird    Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker   

Grand Cayman Thrush    Bachman's Warbler    Semper's Warbler

Species in the Caribbean classified as CRITICALLY THREATENED:

1  CUBAN KITE  ______  (endemic to Cuba)
Chrodrohierax wilsonii

The Cuban Kite, with an isolated and very small population on Cuba, has been considered a subspecies of the Hook-billed Kite, Chondrohierax uncinatus.

RIDGWAY'S HAWK  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic)
Buteo ridgwayi

Only on Hispaniola (and now only in the Dominican Republic), the Ridgway's Hawk is said to have once been widespread throughout the island. Certainly it was more common than it is today. 
Now, in fact, it is very rare, with a total population estimated as being from 50 to 250 birds.

Most recent records of the Ridgway's Hawk have been in the northeastern Dominican Republic in the area of the Los Haitises National Park. Surveys in that park in 2002 and 2003, found up to 37 pairs. Several nests were discovered and monitored.

However, elsewhere in the country very few individuals could be found of this apparently still-declining raptor.
A few birds have also been recorded, in recent years, in the southwestern Dominican Republic, in the area of the Sierra de Baoruco (Baoruco Mountains). A nest was found in that region back in 1997.

3 individual Ridgway's Hawks were seen during the FONT Dominican Republic tour in March 2003, in the southwestern part of the island. The birds were not far from us, as they were seen one morning, in rising thermals as they circled low above a valley.

3  ZAPATA RAIL  ______  (endemic to Cuba)
Cyanolimnas cerverai


4  GRENADA DOVE ______ Grenada  (endemic)
Leptotila wellsi 

The Grenada Dove is closely related to the Gray-fronted Dove of Central & South America, Leptotila rufaxilla. The two have been said by some to be conspecific.

PUERTO RICAN AMAZON  (or Puerto Rican Parrot)  ______  Puerto Rico  (endemic)
Amazona v. vittata 
(a second subspecies on Culebra Island, A. v. gracilipes, is now extinct)

The Puerto Rican Amazon (or Puerto Rican Parrot) is now the rarest of the Caribbean island amazons. The bird has been critically endangered for years. Formerly occurring in various areas of Puerto Rico, it has become very localized in a small, hilly area of northeastern Puerto Rico. 

In 1975, there were only 13 Puerto Rican Amazons in the wild. From that unlucky low, the number about 10 years later was 30. In the late 1990s, the global population was 44 in the wild and 87 in captivity.
During our March 2004 tour in that part of Puerto Rico, we saw 1 wild Puerto Rican Amazon. It was in the area of the facility with the birds in the captive breeding program. The bird apparently was drawn to the noise of the caged birds' calls in the afternoon. It appeared to be a bird preferring to forfeit its lonely wildness for companionship in captivity (Parrots are social birds). 

The Puerto Rican Amazon has been seen during 11 FONT tours since 1990. The most seen were 12 individuals in March 1996. Prior to March 2004, our most-recent sighting was in March 2000.

The Puerto Rican Amazon has come close to following the fate of the amazon parrots that once were in Guadeloupe and Martinique, and the macaws that were in Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean - see the listing of "EXTINCT BIRD SPECIES" before the end of this list.

BAHAMA ORIOLE  ______  Bahamas  (endemic)
Icterus northropi

In 2010, four endemic subspecies of what was the Greater Antillean Oriole were elevated to being full species:
the Hispaniolan Oriole, Icterus dominicensis
the Puerto Rican Oriole, Icterus portoricensis
the Cuban Oriole, Icterus melanopsis
the Bahama Oriole, Icterus northropi

Shortly thereafter, in 2011, the Bahama Oriole was classified by Birdlife International as "critically endangered". 

Historically, the Bahama Oriole was found on the Bahamian islands of Abaco and Andros. For unknown reasons, the Abaco population disappeared during the early 1990s, and there is evidence that the Andros population is in decline.
Recent surveys (in 2010) of the three main islands forming Andros recorded 81 orioles on North Andros, 22 on Mangrove Cay, and 24 on South Andros, making a total of 121 birds. Based on these figures, the estimated total population is fewer than 250 individuals.   

The survey found that the orioles occur mainly in human-altered habitat, such as residential and agricultural land, during the breeding season.  
However, nearby natural habitat, particularly coppice (dry-broadleaf forest), appears to be important, year-round, for the survival of the Bahama Oriole.

8  MONTSERRAT ORIOLE  ______  Montserrat 
Icterus oberi

Species in the Caribbean classified as ENDANGERED:

9  BLACK-CAPPED PETREL  ______ Puerto Rico  (during a FONT pelagic trip)
Pterodroma h. hasitata

The Black-capped Petrel has a very small, fragmented, and declining breeding range that's only on some Caribbean islands.
It is now known to nest in Haiti and the adjacent Dominican Republic, where there are an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs, mostly on the Massifs de la Selle and de la Hotte in southern Haiti.
In the Dominican Republic, where nesting occurs in the Sierra de Baoruco (Baoruco Mountains), nests are in cliffs only at a high altitude of almost 7,000 feet above sea level.

In the Lesser Antilles, Black-capped Petrels have recently been found on Dominica, and over nearby offshore waters, suggesting that the species may nest on that island. 
968 birds were found there during a survey that began in January 2015, and hopefully as research continues, it will be found that the species nests high in the forested mountains of Dominica, where the last confirmed nesting was in 1862.    

The bird is now believed to be extinct on Guadeloupe, where it was common in the 19th Century. It may have bred, in the past, on Martinique.

Even during the breeding season, the Black-capped Petrel is highly pelagic, occurring at that time as far from Caribbean islands as in the area of the Gulf Stream off North Carolina, USA. 
Birds disperse over the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean from that area (off North Carolina) to waters off northeast Brazil, but the at-sea range is said to have recently contracted.     

As noted, nests are in burrows in cliffs, in montane forest, at about 1,500 to 2,300 meters (4,500 to nearly 7,000 feet) above sea level. Nesting is colonial, and begins in December.  
As also noted, birds often commute long distances between breeding sites in the mountains and foraging sites at sea. When doing so, the Black-capped Petrel is primarily nocturnal and crepuscular. It feeds on fish, invertebrate swarms, fauna associated with Sargassum seaweed, and squid. Birds are attracted to localized upwellings, where the mixing of oceanic waters produces patches of the sea that are rich in nutrients.     

A single Black-capped Petrel was seen during the first FONT Caribbean pelagic trip, on February 8, 1996, off the west coast of Puerto Rico. The sighting was late in the day. 

A Black-capped Petrel
photographed during a FONT tour

Closely related to the Black-capped Petrel, Pterodroma hasitata, has been (or was) the Jamaica Petrel, Pterodroma caribbaea, that has now been presumed, for years, to be extinct. It was last collected in 1879. 
The bird has been said by some to be an all-dark subspecies of the BLACK-CAPPED PETREL, but it has now been most often been said to be a separate species. (See notes that follow under "Extinct Bird Species in the West Indies".) 

10  GUNDLACH'S HAWK  ______  (endemic to Cuba)
Accipiter gundlachi

11  BLUE-HEADED QUAIL-DOVE  ______  (endemic to Cuba)
Starnoenas cyanocephala

12  IMPERIAL AMAZON (or Imperial Parrot) 
(the "Sisserou")
______  Dominica  (endemic)
Amazona imperialis

The Imperial Amazon (or Imperial Parrot) is one of two amazon parrots on the little island of Dominica. It is the rarest of the two. And it is one of the largest parrots in the world today. 

The "Sisserou", as the Imperial Amazon is locally called, is a dark, iridescent purple and green bird that now dwells only in the wet forests on the volcanic peak of Morne Diablotin, Dominica's biggest mountain. The parrots retreated to higher and higher altitudes as their native forest habitat was claimed by banana plantations and as continued persecution took its toll.
In 1975, the population was estimated to be 250 birds. By 1983, its numbers had dropped to barely 60.

The other amazon that inhabits the same area of Dominica is the Red-necked Amazon. (See notes regarding it below, under "vulnerable species".)

BAY-BREASTED CUCKOO  ______  Dominican Republic  (where endemic; as thought not to be in Haiti)
(formerly Hyetornis) rufigularis

The Bay-breasted Cuckoo has been a rare bird since it was described in 1852, but throughout the 20th century it became even more so. In recent decades, unfortunately, the decline has continued, in both range and numbers.

This Hispaniolan endemic is now believed to be restricted to only one limited portion of that island, in the northern portion of the Sierra de Baoruco, a range that spills into the southwest Dominican Republic from Haiti. Even in that part of the Dominican Republic, the species is scarce. In Haiti, if it still exists, it is extremely rare.

The Bay-breasted Cuckoo occurred formerly in four areas in the Dominican Republic, but recent records have only been in the Sierra de Baoruco National Park. The decline of the species has been associated with deforestation for agriculture, high levels of grazing, hunting for supposed medicinal purposes, and probably the use of agrochemicals. 
The bird seems to prefer dry, deciduous environments, but its choice of habitat can range from arid lowland through patchy broadleaf woodland to montane rainforest. It is found from the lowlands to 900 meters above sea level, some times higher. 

The bird feeds mostly on lizards and insects, but also on some small mammals that may be present (not many are).
Nesting is from February to May.

14  PUERTO RICAN NIGHTJAR   ______  Puerto Rico  (endemic)
Caprimulgus noctitherus 

The endemic Puerto Rican Nightjar has a very limited range in just the southwestern part of the island. 
And there it is only found in dry, semi-deciduous forest habitat, mostly in and around the Guanica Forest, and sparingly along the southwest coast from Guaniquilla to El Combate. 
The Puerto Rican Nightjar was thought by ornithologists to have been extinct for 70 years, prior to its rediscovery in 1961. That rediscovery came about after the taping of an unknown call, Prior to that, the bird was only known from a specimen taken in 1888 and some subfossil cave deposits. Despite the unawareness of the bird by scientists, over the years, it was known by the local people in that part of Puerto Rico.

But the bird is secretive. It becomes active after dark, sallying beneath the canopy of the forest in pursuit of nocturnal flying insects. It calls mostly at dusk and before dawn, throughout the year, but most actively from November to May.

It's interesting that in the bird field-guide that was used throughout much of the latter half of the 20th Century, the "Birds of the West Indies" by James Bond, the species of Caprimulgus in Puerto Rico was referred to as the Whip-poor-will, Caprimulgus vociferus, which is, of course, the species in part of North America, and which winters, uncommonly to rarely, on the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Jamaica.

Puerto Rican Nightjar

15  GIANT KINGBIRD  ______ 
(endemic to Cuba)
Tyrannus cubensis 

16  BAHAMA SWALLOW  ______  Bahamas 
Tachycineta cyaneoviridis

17  ZAPATA WREN  ______
  (endemic to Cuba)
Forminia cerverai

18  LA SELLE THRUSH  ______  Dominican Republic 
(endemic to Hispaniola)
Turdus swalesi

The shy LaSelle Thrush was discovered in mountains in southern Haiti, known as the Massif de la Selle, in 1927. It was not recorded elsewhere until 1971, when it was found  to be in the Bahoruco Mountains in the southwest Dominican Republic.
In 1986, it was determined that the LaSelle Thrush population that had just recently been found in the Central Mountains of the Dominican Republic was a different subspecies, T. w. dodae.

The LaSelle Thrush occurs above 1300 meters above sea level in dense understory of moist montane broadleaf forest. It is occasionally in pine forest, but only where there is a well-grown broadleaf understory (which is rare in the pine woods habitat of the Dominican Republic).

Even though many of the thrushes in the world in the Turdus genus are obvious, and easy to see, the LaSelle Thrush, Turdus swalesi, is not. As noted, it is a shy, very reclusive bird. 

The bird mainly forages on the ground for earthworms, insects, and fruit.

In the mountainous Sierra de Baoruco, in the southwestern Dominican Republic, close to Haiti, the LaSelle Thrush is restricted to isolated patches of its preferred habitat. 

In Haiti, all suitable forest may have disappeared from the species's range, and thus the bird may be extirpated from that entire country where it was first discovered less than 100 years ago. The LaSelle Thrush was formerly common at the La Visite National Park in Haiti, but now its status there is unclear.

The recently-discovered race, T. w. dodae, in the western and central Dominican Republic, occurs in the Sierra de Neiba and the Cordillera Central. 

The LaSelle Thrush has been found during FONT tours in the Sierra de Baoruco (near Haiti, and unfortunately near an area of increased human disturbance). But, to date, it has not been found during a FONT tour in the Cordillera Central.

Ramphocinclus brachyurus
The White-breasted Thrasher has an extremely small range and population on the two Lesser Antillean islands of Saint Lucia and Martinique. On each island, there is a different subspecies.

On Saint Lucia, the race R. b. santaeluciae inhabits low scrubby woodland in ravine bottoms with dense stands of thin-trunked riparian trees. It forages on the ground for small invertebrates, and sometimes small frogs and lizards. But the bird only occurs in Saint Lucia on a small portion of that island (that itself is not big!). The range on Saint Lucia is on the drier (Atlantic) side of the island between the Marquis river valley and the Frigate Island Refuge.

In 1992, the population on Saint Lucia was said to be 46 pairs. That indicated an annual decline of over 4 per cent in the 5 years since 1987. In 1997, the Saint Lucian population was estimated to be just over a hundred individuals.
During that year, 1997, on Saint Lucia, nesting success was 44 per cent, suggesting a rather normal level of nest-predation for a tropical passerine.  
However, due to predation of flightless young (on the ground) and habitat loss, the sad decline of this very rare bird may well be continuing on Saint Lucia and Martinique.

On Martinique, the population has been about 40 pairs on the Caravelle Peninsula.

The White-breasted Thrasher has been seen during nearly all of the 15 FONT tours on Saint Lucia.  

WHISTLING WARBLER  ______  Saint Vincent  (endemic)
Catharopeza bishopi

The Whistling Warbler is an attractive little bird that exists only on the one little island of Saint Vincent. And on that island, it occurs just in three areas, where the favored habitat of the bird has been declining. The 3 areas are the Colonaire and the Perserence Valleys, and Richmond Peak. 

A total of about 2,000 singing males was estimated in 1986. Regarding the decline of suitable habitat, just noted, it diminished from 140 square kilometers in the early 1900's to about 80 square kilometers in 1986.

The habitat favored by the Whistling Warbler is dense undergrowth and vine-tangles in primary rainforest, and also: palm brake, elfin forest, secondary growth and borders. But the primary rainforest and palm brake is the most important, holding 80 per cent of the population. The bird is found at elevations of 300 to 1,100 meters above sea level, but mostly below 600 meters. 
Eggs are laid between April and July.

A central part of Saint Vincent was designated as a wildlife reserve in 1987, and this protection of habitat can be a benefit to the Whistling Warbler.        

The Whistling Warbler of Saint Vincent


  ______  Puerto Rico
Agelaius x. xanthomus
  (a second Puerto Rican subspecies is on Mona Island)

The Yellow-shouldered Blackbird was formerly widespread on the island of Puerto Rico, but now it is restricted to the extreme southwest portion of the island. 

A second subspecies, Agelaius xanthomus monensis, occurs only on Mona Island, and the smaller adjacent Monito Island, about half-way between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The nominate race is on the island of Puerto Rico. 

There was also a population along the far-eastern coast of Puerto Rico, But it has presumably vanished with no breeding recorded there since 1986.

The southwest population declined by about 80 per cent between 1975 and 1981, to a low of 300 individuals in 1982. Subsequently, roost counts during the decade from 1985 to 1995 showed an average annual increase of 14 per cent.
In early 1998, the total population was estimated at 1,250 individuals.

Formerly, the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird occurred in mangroves, pastures, coconut and palm stands, cactus scrub, coastal cliffs, and rarely in woodland. It has always been found to be most common near the coast. Many birds nest on offshore cays. 

The bird forages both on the ground and in trees, feeding on insects (especially moths and crickets), seeds, and nectar.
Birds gather communally at feeding sites, with flocks forming in the non-breeding season.

The breeding season is from May to September, with nests are often low in mangrove trees, or in large deciduous trees near mangroves. On Mona Island, nests are in crevices or on ledges on high, vertical sea-cliffs.  

A Yellow-shouldered Blackbird photographed during a FONT Puerto Rico tour.
The rare species has been seen during all 27 of the FONT tours on the island. 

______  Jamaica 
Nesopsar nigerrimus

CUBAN (or ZAPATA) SPARROW  ______  (endemic to Cuba)
Torreornis inepectata

24  SAINT LUCIA BLACK FINCH  ______  Saint Lucia 
Melanospiza richardsoni

There is a connection between the Saint Lucia Black Finch and the "Darwin's Finches" of the Galapagos. At one time, it was thought that the Saint Lucia bird was one of them.

Here's the story, taken in part from the book "Far Afield in the Caribbean" written by Mary Wickham Bond, the wife of the ornithologist James Bond, who specialized in West Indian birds. The just-mentioned book was published in 1971, and in the anecdote Mrs. Bond refers to her husband, Jim.

The story (of the Saint Lucia Black Finch) began in 1835 when Charles Darwin collected his black finches in the Galapagos Islands, a group of birds peculiar to that archipelago. His study of them occupied him for the next 15 years, and helped lay the basis for his "Origin of the Species". 

About 50 years later, the Smithsonian Institution sent out an expedition to the Galapagos on the steamer, the "Albatross". On the way, the expedition stopped at several islands including Saint Lucia (in the Caribbean), where a collection of birds was bought from a local man. Among them was a black finch that was strikingly like the Darwin's Galapagos Finch. When asked where he got the bird, the local man waved his hand in a vague way and said "Up in the mountains".
However, later, it was erroneously assumed that the unusual specimen had probably been collected in the Galapagos, and was mistakenly labeled as having come from Saint Lucia.

In 1927, before Jim (Bond) set out on his first trip to the West Indies, he stopped at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Mr. De Witt Miller, one of the older curators, said to him there, "If you get as far as Saint Lucia be sure to look for Melanospiza (the genus of "the black finch"). We're still not convinced that the our specimen was collected there."

Jim spent 6 weeks on Saint Lucia and looked "everywhere" for the finch, but didn't find it. However, later, during his second trip to the Caribbean, he returned to Saint Lucia during the month of May, a better time to find rare birds as it's the breeding season and they're in song. 
That time, he did find it, collecting several, including the first females known to science, from the mountainous country Soufriere.

On his return to New York, he (Bond) stopped in again at the American Museum. He got the word of his find to Mr. Frank Chapman, the head of the museum's bird department.

The Darwin's Finches, the most primitive of the Galapagos landbirds, have been, over the years, the subject of many studies and publications by naturalists from all over the world, including the eminent English ornithologist, David Lack. He examined specimens of all the finches of North, South, and Central America, and finding nothing like the Darwin's Finches among them, he decided they were a distinct family. But he did not include in his studies the Antillean finches. Had he done so, he would have noted how closely Melanospiza resembled the Galapagos Finches

The discovery by Jim (Bond) established the fact that Melanospiza was indigenous to Saint Lucia, which strongly indicated that the Darwin's Finches and Melanospiza which invaded the Galapagos Islands and the West Indies, where they survive (but in the West Indies only in Saint Lucia), through the lack of competition with mainland species and the absence of significant predators.

Now, introduced mongooses and rats predate eggs, nestlings, and adults. A survey in 1987 failed to find any large population, and noted that much suitable habitat was unoccupied. At present, the species occurs mostly in the mountains.

25  HISPANIOLAN CROSSBILL  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic to Hispaniola)
Loxia megaplaga
The Hispaniolan Crossbill has been considered conspecific with the White-winged or Two-barred, Crossbill. The bird, in the pine forests high in the mountains of Hispaniola, has been there a long time, as far back as the Glacial Age in Pleistocene times, about 85,000,000 years ago.

In that sense its history is long. In another, it's short. The bird was discovered in the 20th Century, in 1916. Only 4 other species of birds on Hispaniola were discovered in the 20th Century: the Least Poorwill, the LaSelle Thrush, the Western Chat-Tanager, and the Hispaniolan Highland Tanager, that's been known as the White-winged Warbler. (All of these species are included in this listing or rare birds in the Caribbean.)

Most birds, of course, not just on Hispaniola, but throughout the World, were known to science before the beginning of the 20th Century. 
The Hispaniolan Crossbill has a very small population (with at least 4 subpopulations). Numbers fluctuate naturally.
In the Dominican Republic, the species was not recorded from about 1930 to 1970. In that country, now, it is most often found in the Sierra de Baoruco mountains, with occasional records in the Cordillera Central.

It is believed that numbers declined during much of the 20th Century due to habitat loss, but by 1980 the bird was thought to be recovering. A population of less than 1,000 individuals was estimated in 1994, but, as noted, numbers fluctuate, depending on food supply.

In Haiti, the bird has been known from the mountainous areas of Massifs de la Selle and de la Hotte, and a flock of 30 was noted in January 2000 at La Visite.

Interestingly, away from Hispaniola, several birds were found in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica in the early 1970's, but never subsequently. Were they blown there by a hurricane? So many birds of the Caribbean have to cope with such a strong force of nature. And birds with fragile, low populations can therefore, at times, be all the more in jeopardy.

26  RED SISKIN  ______ 
an introduced species in Puerto Rico
Sporagra (formerly Carduelis) cucullata  

The population of the Red Siskin in Puerto Rico, from escaped cage birds probably in the 1930s, has undergone lately a marked decline, and there have been few recent records.

The following relates to the Red Siskin where it is native, and very rare, in northern South America:  

The Red Siskin, or the "Cardenalito" as it's known in Spanish, is a rare and endangered species. The bird has been known to occur locally in northern Colombia and northern Venezuela, and nearby Guyana. 

It was very good news for the species when, in 2003, a population of several thousand birds was discovered in southern Guyana, about a thousand kilometers from any previously known population. Otherwise, the global population of the species in the wild has been estimated to be from 600 to 6,000 pairs.

In the early 20th Century, the Red Siskin was common in the foothills of northern Venezuela, but later in the 1900s it became extremely rare there in a fragmented range.

The preferred habitats of the Red Siskin are open country, forest edges, and grasslands with trees or shrubs. 
Red Siskins are highly gregarious. When they were more numerous, they formed semi-nomadic flocks.

The main reason for the decline of the Red Siskin has been massive illegal trapping for the cage bird trade. Being an attractive finch with a pleasant song is against it, and its unique coloration for a small finch that has enabled it to be used for interbreeding with domesticated Canaries to produce varieties with red in the plumage.

27  EASTERN CHAT-TANAGER  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic)  
Calyptophilus frugivorus

The Eastern Chat-Tanager was seen during the FONT Dominican Republic Tour in February 2012, in the mountains of the Cordillera Central.     

That subspecies, Calyptophilus frugivorus neibei, occurs uncommonly and locally in the Cordillera Central and Sierra de Neiba mountains in the central Dominican Republic. 
Two other subspecies of the Eastern Chat-Tanager have occurred, on the Semana Peninsula in the northeastern Dominican Republic and on Gonave Island in Haiti, but neither of them have not been found in decades. Those subspecies are respectively, C. f. frugivorus & C. f. abbotti
In the 2000 edition of Birdlife International's "Threatened Birds of the World" it was written the "much needed redefinition of the taxonomic status of the Chat-Tanager would almost certainly result in a significant change of the bird's 'vulnerable' classification". Since then (and reflected here), some taxonomic revision has been done, and the Eastern Chat-Tanager has been classified as "endangered", while the Western Chat-Tanager remains "vulnerable".

In the book, "Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti", published in 2006, the Eastern Chat-Tanager was categorized as "critically endangered".
Birdlife International, still as of 2012, categorized the species as "vulnerable", as they question the split of the Western Chat-Tanager from the Eastern Chat-Tanager, and collectively they consider the bird as the "Chat-Tanager".
In our view, we note the Western Chat-Tanager as "vulnerable" (below), and the Eastern Chat-Tanager here as at least "endangered", although the assessment of the authors of the 2006 field guide may be correct.     
The nominate of the Eastern Chat-Tanager was described back in the 19th Century, in 1883. 
The race on Gonave Island was described in 1924. 
And, most recently, the subspecies that is still known to exist today, C. f. neibei, was described only as recently as 1977.

See also the text that follows with the WESTERN CHAT-TANAGER
(among the species in the "vulnerable" category) 

Species in the Caribbean classified as VULNERABLE:

  ______  Barbuda, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
Dendrocygna arborea 

The West Indian Whistling Duck occurs only on various West Indian islands, where its range is extremely fragmented. 
Whereas its remaining habitat has been declining, and the West Indian Whistling Duck has disappeared from some sites where it has been, there seems recently to have been an overall slight increase in the bird's population.
The duck is generally crepuscular or nocturnal, and often secretive.     

During FONT Caribbean Tours, the West Indian Whistling Duck has been seen on 5 islands as noted above.

Some recent information about the approximate, or estimated populations of the West Indian Whistling Duck on various islands is as follows:
Barbuda: 50 birds (with maybe 500 in nearby Antigua)
Cayman Islands: from 800 to 1,200 birds
Dominican Republic: apparently 6 populations, the number of birds unknown
Jamaica: 500 birds
Puerto Rico: perhaps 100 birds

At least 1,500 birds are said to exist in the Bahamas.      

On January 6, 2001, a pair of West Indian Whistling Ducks with 3 chicks marked the first nesting record for the species on Abaco Island in the Bahamas.  

A West Indian Whistling Duck
photographed during a FONT tour
in the Dominican Republic 
(photo by Marie Gardner)

______  Jamaica 
(formerly Columba) caribaea

  ______  Dominican Republic 
Geotrygon leucometopius

The White-fronted Quail-Dove was considered conspecific with the Gray-headed Quail-Dove (below).

(endemic to Cuba)
Geotrygon caniceps

HISPANIOLAN PARAKEET  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic to Hispaniola)
Aratinga chloroptera

The Hispaniolan Parakeet has a small and fragmented range and population, which continues to decline due to persecution. 
Overall on the island of Hispaniola, the bird is rare with isolated populations in the Dominican Republic, in the Cordillera Central, the Sierra de Baoruco, and in some neighborhoods on the western side of the city of Santo Domingo. 
The current status of the bird in Haiti is unclear. It has been suggested that it is extinct there, there have been claims that it is in the Massif de la Selle and la Citadelle area of the Massif du Nord. (It should be noted that the Jamaican (formerly Olive-throated) Parakeet occurs now in western Hispaniola.)

A race of the Hispaniolan Parakeet, Aratinga chloroptera maugei, has become extinct. It formerly occurred on Mona Island, Puerto Rico (about halfway between the Dominican Republic and the island of Puerto Rico).

There is a feral population of the Hispaniolan Parakeet in Puerto Rico, and possibly on the Lesser Antillean island of Guadeloupe.

A Hispaniolan Parakeet photographed during a FONT tour
(photo by Marie Gardner)


33  HISPANIOLAN AMAZON (or Hispaniolan Parrot)   ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic to Hispaniola)
Amazona ventralis

The Hispaniolan Amazon (or Hispaniolan Parrot) was common on the island of Hispaniola, but it declined seriously during the 20th Century. By the 1930's. it was mainly restricted to the mountains in the central and southwestern Dominican Republic and in western Haiti, where it still remains locally common. Recent evidence, however, has suggested that there has been, as of late, a rapid population reduction. But the current extent of the decline, and the present population of the species is unclear. 
The bird inhabits a variety of wooded habitats, from arid palm-savannas to pine and montane humid forests, occurring as high as 1500 meters (4500 feet) above sea level. It frequently forages in cultivated lands, such as banana plantations and corn fields. Nesting is known to take place from February to May, maybe later,

Introduced Hispaniolan Amazons are established in Puerto Rico, and in the Virgin Islands on St. Croix and St, Thomas. The population in Puerto Rico is several hundred birds, and is apparently increasing.


34  YELLOW-BILLED AMAZON  ______ Jamaica  (endemic)
Amazona collaria

Yellow-billed Amazon
(photo by Suzanne Bradley)

  ______  Jamaica 
Amazona agilis

36  RED-NECKED AMAZON (or Red-necked Parrot)  (the "Jaco")  ______  Dominica  (endemic)
Amazona arausiaca

During recent decades, the Red-necked Amazon, or Red-necked Parrot, has done a bit better than the other amazon that inhabits the same area of Dominica, the Imperial Amazon (see above, under "endangered").
The population of the Red-necked Amazon is a few hundred birds. 

Both the Red-necked and Imperial Amazons, however, are quite vulnerable to disasters such a direct hit by a powerful hurricane. Actually, the number of Red-necked Amazons was halved by such events in 1979 and 1980.

37  SAINT LUCIA AMAZON  (the "Jacquot")  ______  Saint Lucia  (endemic)
Amazona versicolor

The Saint Lucia Amazon, when seen well, is a beautiful parrot. It is an overall green bird, with a iridescent blue face and a scalloped black and red breast. In 1950, its population was believed to be about 1,000 birds. A survey in 1978 estimated that only about 100 birds continued to exist. During those 25 or so years, suitable habitat reduced rapidly. 

After the 1970's, diligent conservation efforts saved the species from extinction. A survey in 1996 estimated the wild population to be between 350 and 500 individuals, and it noted some slight range expansion.

However, the human population on the island of Saint Lucia is growing at a considerable rate, and there is increasing pressure on the forest resulting lately in some habitat loss. So, the area of apparently suitable habitat (unoccupied by parrots) may now be decreasing, and if this begins to affect the suitable habitat that is currently occupied by parrots, the status of the bird would need to be changed from "vulnerable" to "endangered", as the species does have such a small range in which an appropriate habitat is required.

  ______  Saint Vincent 
Amazona guildingii

The Saint Vincent Amazon is really quite a bird. It occurs in two general color schemes, brownish or greenish. Both are striking birds with white on their heads, blue on their faces, and bright yellow in their wings and tails.
In the early 1970's, there were an estimated 1,000 of these birds. By the late 1980's, the total population was said to be about half of that. 

A Saint Vincent Amazon in the wild,
photographed during the Dec 2007 FONT Tour in the Lesser Antilles.
(photo by Marie Gardner)

in the Netherlands Antilles (and the coast & offshore islands of  Venezuela)
Amazona barbadensis

In the Netherlands Antilles, the Yellow-shouldered Amazon occurs mostly on the island of Bonaire where in 2012 there were said to be over 600 birds. 
On Curacao, there have been modern-day reports of parrots since 1988. Historically, there was a parrot population on Curacao in the 18th century.
Amazona barbadensis formerly occurred on Aruba, but it has been extirpated on that island.  

(endemic to Cuba)
Colaptes fernandinae

41  WHITE-NECKED CROW  ______  Dominican Republic 
(now endemic to Hispaniola)
Corvus leucognaphalus

The White-necked Crow is now endemic to Hispaniola. It formerly occurred on Puerto Rico, bur it was last recorded there in 1963.

A White-necked Crow photographed during a FONT tour
(photo by Marie Gardner)

  ______  Dominican Republic 
(now seemingly endemic to Hispaniola)
Tachycineta euchrysea sclateri

The endemic subspecies of the Golden Swallow on the island of Hispaniola, Tachycineta euchrysea sclateri, has a small, fragmented, and declining population. It may now be that the population on Hispaniola is an endemic species, as the nominate subspecies in Jamaica has not been recorded there in years.

In Jamaica, the Golden Swallow has been (or was) very rare and local, where it has been observed from the Cockpit Country east across the central highlands to the Blue Mountains. The Jamaican population was said to be common in the 19th Century. 
In Hispaniola, it occurs in the Cordillera Central and the Sierra de Baoruco in the Dominican Republic, and in the Massif de la Selle in Haiti.

Overall, the species suffered a massive decline during much of the 20th Century.

The Golden Swallow in Hispaniola favors montane humid and pine forests, from about 800 to 2,000 meters (2,400 to 6,000 feet) above sea level. Nests are in old woodpecker and other holes in dead pines, and have also been noted in caves, boulders in an old bauxite mine, and in the eaves of buildings. It flies about, either singly or in small groups, feeding on small insects.  

The common English name, Golden Swallow, comes from the sheen on its back, when the bird is seen in good sunlight from above (sometimes hard to do with a swallow)

43  FOREST THRUSH  ______  Dominica 
(formerly Cichlherminia) iherminieri dominicensis

The Forest Thrush has 4 subspecies. In addition to the subspecies endemic to the island of Dominica, there are other endemic subspecies on the islands of Guadeloupe and Montserrat, and possibly still on Saint Lucia, where, if it still occurs, it is very rare.

Throughout its range, this species has declined significantly in recent years, due in part to deforestation and introduced predators. The bird can be exceedingly shy where it has been hunted (another factor in its decline).
In Montserrat, its population was reduced by two-thirds in 1995-1997 due to effects from a major volcanic eruption, but since then, on that island, there has been an increase. In December 1999, on Montserrat, the population was estimated to be just over 3,000 birds.

Threats, throughout its range, have been brood-parasitism by Shiny Cowbirds and competition with the Spectacled (formerly Bare-eyed) Thrush. 

On the French island of Guadeloupe, the Forest Thrush still continues to be legally hunted. On Dominica, it occurs in the Morne Diablotin National Park, and in other similar forested locations.

On Saint Lucia, the bird is said to have formerly gathered in large numbers in autumn to feed on berries.

44  BICKNELL'S THRUSH  ______  Dominican Republic
Catharus bicknelli

The wintering range of the Bicknell's Thrush is restricted to the Greater Antilles of the West Indies, on the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.
However, most, by far, winter in the Dominican Republic on Hispaniola.

The Bicknell's Thrush, in its wintering territory, is typically shy and wary. It searches for invertebrates and fruits on the ground or in the sub-canopy of moist broadleaf forest, or broadleaf forest with few pines mixed in. The bird prefers dense understory.

Surveys conducted in the 1990s in the Dominican Republic found the following regarding the Bicknell's Thrush occurring as a seasonal non-breeding resident:
75 per cent in wet and mesic broadleaf forests
19 per cent in mixed pine/broadleaf forests
6 per cent in pine-dominated forests.
Birds were found at all elevations from sea level to 6,600 feet above sea level. Most, that is 62 per cent, were in primary montane forests higher that 3,000 feet in elevation.

In its migration, the Bicknell's Thrush can be found at some lowland localities in the Dominican Republic.

During surveys in the Dominican Republic in the 1990s & the early 2000s, places in high elevations where the Bicknell's Thrush was found included:
Sierras de Bahoruco, Neiba, and Martin Garcia, and the Cordilleras Central, Septentrional, and Oriental. It is most common in the Sierra de Bahoruco and the Cordillera Central.
Other places included the Los Haitises National Park and less so in the Del Este National Park.

The surveys seem to have found some sexual segregation among birds wintering in the Dominican Republic with males mostly in undisturbed montane forests, while females and birds of the year in younger, or more disturbed forests.     

The arrival of Bicknell's Thrushes in the Dominican Republic is thought to be in late October and early November.
The birds probably start their northward spring migration in early to mid-April.  

  ______  Puerto Rico 
(formerly Dendroica) angelae

It was as recently as 1971 that the Elfin Woods Warbler was discovered. Endemic to Puerto Rico, it is uncommon and local in 4 disjunct areas of the island. In the east, it is in the Sierra de Luquillo (in the Caribbean National Forest) and in the Sierra de Cayey (in the Carite Forest). In the west, in the Cordillera Central (in the Maricao & Toro Negro Forests). The total population, at these localities where the bird is known, has been estimated at no more than 300 pairs.

As indicated by its name, the bird inhabits elfin, or montane dwarf, forest on ridges and summits, and montane wet forest. Preferred areas have a dense canopy with vines, high sub-canopy and sparse understory. Although it has been found in secondary habitats, it occurs most in undisturbed forest. Breeding takes place from March to June.

By the late 1940's, the natural vegetation of Puerto Rico had been reduced to about 6 per cent of the island's land surface, but a later regeneration of forest increased the figure to about 30 per cent in the early 1980's.

46  CERULEAN WARBLER  ______  a migrant in the West Indies 
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) cerulea


47  HISPANIOLAN HIGHLAND TANAGER (has been called White-winged Warbler) ______ Dominican Republic  (endemic)
Xenoligea montana

The Hispaniolan Highlands Tanager (that has also been known as the White-winged Warbler) was one of the four Hispaniolan birds discovered in the 20th Century. 
When it was described, in 1917, it was given the scientific name Microlgea montana. It occurs high in the "montanas" (or mountains). In 1967, the bird became the single member of its genus, and the new scientific name given to it at that time was Xenoligea montana.

48  WESTERN CHAT-TANAGER  ______  Dominican Republic 
(endemic to Hispaniola)
Calyptophilus tertius

The bird currently called the Western Chat-Tanager has been considered a subspecies of the Eastern Chat-Tanager, Calyptophilus frugivorus, but it is now said by some to be a distinct species. 

The Western Chat-Tanager, with a length of 8 inches, is just over an inch larger than the Eastern Chat-Tanager at 6.75 inches, and it lacks the bare yellow eye-ring of the Eastern Chat-Tanager. The voices of the two Chat-Tanagers are noticeably different.

The local name of the Western Chat-Tanager is "El Chirri". That of the Eastern Chat-Tanager (the race in the central Dominican Republic) is "El Patico".  

The Western Chat-Tanager, Calyptophilus tertius, occurs in southwestern Hispaniola in Haiti and the adjacent Dominican Republic, where it is local in the Sierra de Baoruco mountains.

The Eastern Chat-Tanager, Calyptophilus frugivorus neibei, occurs uncommonly and locally in the Cordillera Central and Sierra de Neiba mountains in the central Dominican Republic. 
Two other subspecies have occurred, on the Semana Peninsula in the northeastern Dominican Republic and on Gonave Island in Haiti, but neither of them have not been found in decades. Those subspecies are respectively, C. f. frugivorus & C. f. abbotti
In the 2000 edition of Birdlife International's "Threatened Birds of the World" it was written the "much needed redefinition of the taxonomic status of the Chat-Tanager would almost certainly result in a significant change of the bird's 'vulnerable' classification". Since then (and reflected here), some taxonomic revision has been done, and the Eastern Chat-Tanager has been classified as "endangered", while the Western Chat-Tanager remains "vulnerable".
The nominate of the Eastern Chat-Tanager was described back in the 19th Century, in 1883. 
The race on Gonave Island was described in 1924. 
And, most recently, the subspecies that is still known to exist today, C. f. neibei, was described only as recently as 1977.

What is now the Western Chat-Tanager was described in 1929 (first as a subspecies), making it now the last of the birds of the Dominican Republic (at least, to date) to be described. 
As noted here elsewhere, 4 other species of birds in the Dominican Republic were described in the 20th Century: the Hispaniolan Crossbill in 1916, the Least Poorwill and the Hispaniolan Highlands Tanager in 1917, and the La Selle Thrush in 1927. A second subspecies of the last of these, the thrush, was found in the Central Mountains of the Dominican Republic as recently as 1986.
The speciation of the two Chat-Tanagers is said to have most likely occurred when present-day Hispaniola consisted of two separate islands. 

The Chat-Tanagers are largely terrestrial in broadleaf forests and dense thickets, and they particularly favor ravines. The two species, C. tertius & C. frugivorus neibei, are primarily montane. They feed chiefly, near the ground, on invertebrates, rather than on fruits as implied by the scientific name "frugivorus".

Even though the Western Chat-Tanager is one of the finest of Hispaniola's avian songsters, the bird can be notoriously hard to see, being an adept skulker. 
That notwithstanding, during the FONT Dominican Republic tour in April 2008, the Western Chat-Tanager was both heard & seen very well - so much so, that it was voted the "top bird" of the tour! (And it might well be noted that the bird was seen well because of its own activity, and not due to a response to a tape). 
Apparently, in the remote area where we were, the birds had a nest near the road. One of them, at least, was seen repeatedly flying across the road, and perching, not high, on a nearby branch. So many times, in the past, we only had a glimpse of the bird. After all, there is a reason why it was described as late as 1929.

Species in the Caribbean classified as NEAR-THREATENED:

49  BLACK RAIL  ______
Laterallus jamaicensis

  ______ Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia
Fulica caribaea

The Caribbean Coot has been said by some to be conspecific with the American Coot, F. americana.

Charadrius melodus

a southbound migrant in the West Indies, in the late-summer & early-fall 
Tryngites subruficollis 

______  Antigua, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
(formerly Columba) leucocephala

54  PLAIN PIGEON  ______ 
Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico
(formerly Columba) inornata

(the "Mountain Witch") ______ Jamaica  (endemic)
Geotrygon versicolor

______ Cayman Islands
Amazona leucocephala

This species has various names on different Caribbean islands.
It's known as the Bahama, the Cuban and the Cayman Islands Amazon, or Parrot
There are 5 subspecies, 2 in Cuba, 1 in the Bahamas, and 2 in the Caymans:
A. l. caymanensis, ______ Grand Cayman, in the Cayman Islands 
(endemic subspecies)
A. 1. hesterna
, ______ Cayman Brac Is., in the Cayman Islands   (endemic subspecies)

The Rose-throated Amazon, or the Cayman Islands Amazon,
a species always seen during FONT tours on those islands.

  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic)
Siphonorhis brewsteri

The Least Poorwill had, for a while, a scanty history, after the first specimen was collected in 1917. At that time, the small nightjar, that has also been called the Least Pauraque, was given the scientific name Microsiphonorhis brewsteri. The genus was changed in 1928 to Siphonorhis
From that year, until 1969, there were very few, if any, reports of this bird, that locally is called "El Torico". 

The nice thing is that today this species of Siphonorhis can still be found (as it is during our tours). The only other member of the genus, Siphonorhis americana, the Jamaican Poorwill (or "Jamaican Pauraque"), is now believed to be extinct. 

The Least Poorwill is a small bird, with a length as little as just over 6 inches. In western North America, the Common Poorwill  is about an inch to two inches longer. 
And, as a frame of reference, the familiar American Robin has a length of about 10 inches.

Reasons why this small nightjar escaped detection for almost 50 years in the 20th Century are that the bird is entirely nocturnal, and that it lives in dense vegetation in areas of cactus and thorn scrub where, in general, not many people penetrate. Its distribution is local. Where it occurs, it may be relatively common, but overall it is not.

We have found that, during FONT tours, at an appropriate place, the Least Poorwill can begin calling at dusk, and that when (if) it responds to a tape, it can fly by quickly, close to the ground, like a 6-inch dart.

It's written that the downy young of the Least Poorwill looks like a fluffy ball of white cotton, and that it appears to mimic a round whitish cactus which grows where the bird nests. Actually, the first nestling was discovered by a botanist collecting cacti. The bird was thought to be a cactus until it moved.

58  BEE HUMMINGBIRD  ______ 
(endemic to Cuba)
Mellisvea helenae

The Bee Hummingbird is said to be the smallest of all birds.

59  HISPANIOLAN TROGON  ______  Dominican Republic  (endemic to Hispaniola)
Priotelus roseigaster

A Hispaniolan Trogon photographed during a FONT tour in the Dominican Republic.
The species has been found during all 19 FONT tours on that island.

60  GUADELOUPE WOODPECKER  ______  Guadeloupe 
Melanerpes herminieri   

Geographically Isolated, from away from any other woodpecker, the Guadeloupe Woodpecker is endemic to that one island in the Lesser Antilles.

Guadeloupe is an overseas prefect of France. It has 2 senators and 3 deputies in the French parliament in Paris. The license plates on the mostly small vehicles are as those in France. The money is as that in France, the Euro. Of the thousands of tourists who visit Guadeloupe each year, mostly for its beaches, far and away the most are from France.

So it is not surprising that the Guadeloupe Woodpecker has a French name, the "Tapeur". It is from "taper" meaning "to tap", or "to strike, bang, or beat".

Of the more than 200 species of woodpeckers in the world, there are things about the "Tapeur" that set it apart from the others.
It has a reddish-purple breast and belly, but often the bird appears all-black.
In flight, the bird does not undulate as woodpeckers normally do.
Its call is also distinctively its own, a loud "ch-arrgh" given by birds in the forest to maintain contact with each other.
Oddly, the closest woodpecker to it, in terms of appearance and structure, is the Lewis' Woodpecker of western North America. It is in the same genus as the Lewis', Melanerpes.
But the Guadeloupe Woodpecker is so geographically isolated from others in the woodpecker family. There are also Melanerpes woodpeckers in the Greater Antilles and in Central and South America, but there is no other woodpecker of any kind in the Lesser Antilles.

The "Tapeur" is a rather shy, and often inconspicuous bird of the dense forest and other wooded habitats. 
It occurs below 1,000 feet above sea level. 
It is estimated that its population may be 10,000 pairs.
The bird does not "flycatch". Its diet of insects is taken in dead wood.

A particularly interesting aspect of Melanerpes hermionieri, the Guadeloupe Woodpecker, is that the length of the male's bill is 20 per cent longer that that of the female.

During our FONT tours in Guadeloupe, we have been fortunate to see pairs, together, in bare trees, and that notable difference in bill length could easily be seen.

______  Dominican Republic 
(now a subspecies endemic to Hispaniola)
Corvus p. palmarum

The Hispaniolan Palm Crow has been split from the "Cuban Pam Crow", Corvus palmarum minutus, but now the two are considered conspecific.

62  BLUE MOUNTAIN VIREO  ______  Jamaica  (endemic)
Vireo osburni

63  CUBAN SOLITAIRE  ______ 
(endemic to Cuba)
Myadestes elisabeth

a migrant in the West Indies
Vermivora chrysoptera

  VITELLINE WARBLER  ______  Cayman Islands
(formerly Dendroica) vitellina

There are 3 subspecies, 1 on Swan Island, the other 2 in the Caymans:
D. v. vitellina ______ Grand Cayman Island 
(endemic subspecies)
D. v. crawfordi ______ Little Cayman Island 
(endemic subspecies)

Both subspecies of the Vitelline Warbler have been found during FONT tours in the Cayman Islands.

  BARBUDA WARBLER  ______  Barbuda 
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) subita  

The Barbuda Warbler is restricted to the one little island of Barbuda in the Caribbean and is found no where else in the world. It was, at one time, conspecific with the Adelaide's Warbler of Puerto Rico and the Saint Lucia Warbler on that island. 

The Barbuda Warbler looks rather like the Grace's Warbler of western North America and south to Nicaragua, with a yellow eye-line and a yellow eye-ring.

The warbler on Barbuda was as recently as in 2000 called the Adelaide's Warbler, which had at that time 3 geographically distinct populations:
one mostly in the more arid part of Puerto Rico (mostly in the southwest part of that island),
one on Saint Lucia in the southern Lesser Antilles,
and one on the little out-of-the-way island of Barbuda, in between, but no where near, either the Puerto Rican or Saint Lucian populations. 
Those 3 subspecies were quite isolated from each other.
Now, with revised bird taxonomy, it is 3 species of what was the former Adelaide's Warbler that are quite isolated.

It is estimated that the population of the Barbuda Warbler is about 1,000 birds - not much different than the human population on that small island. The population of the bird is thought to be declining.   

The Barbuda Warbler has been seen during FONT tours on that small island, not far from Antigua.

67  BAHAMA WARBLER  ______  Bahamas 
Setaphaga flavescens

Formerly classified as a subspecies of the Yellow-throated Warbler, the Bahama Warbler was raised to a full species status in 2011.

The Bahama Warbler is a habitat specialist, restricted to Caribbean pine forests in the Bahamas on Abaco and Grand Bahama Island where it is a resident.

In all plumages, the Bahama Warbler has more extensive yellow below than does the Yellow-throated Warbler. Although Yellow-throated Warblers are moderately long-billed, Bahama Warblers are very long-billed.
The Bahama Warbler differs from the superficially-similar Kirtland's Warbler in two significant behavorial aspects:
The Kirtland's Warbler is a habitual tail-pumper. The Bahama Warbler is not.
The Bahama Warbler is a habitual "tree-creeper". The Kirtland's is not.

Described here is the "tree-creeper" behavior of the Bahama Warbler:  "An individual warbler landed on the lower section of a pine trunk and then worked its way upward, circling the tree and probing beneath the bark much as a Brown Creeper does. After reaching the branched portion of the tree, the warbler would fly to the base of another tree and repeat its behavior."

Some Yellow-throated Warblers that breed in the southeastern US coastal plain can be found in winter in the Bahamas. Such birds are yellow-lored, as are Bahama Warblers, but they are distinguished from Bahama Warblers by their relatively shorter bills, and by the relatively reduced yellow of their underparts.
Yellow-throated Warblers on their Bahamian wintering grounds are more generalized as to their ecology and distribution than are Bahama Warblers.
Yellow-throated Warblers may be found in a variety of habitats, in the Bahamas as they are elsewhere, but Bahama Warblers are restricted to pine woods.
Also, Yellow-throated Warblers may be found throughout the Bahamas, but the Bahama Warbler occurs only on the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, where it is uncommon to locally fairly common.

68  KIRTLAND'S WARBLER  ______  Bahamas 
(when non-breeding)
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) kirtlandii 

During its non-breeding season, the Kirtland's Warbler occurs only in the Bahamas, in the West Indies.

The total population of the species has increased in recent years. During surveys of nesting areas in the United States in 2011, there were 1,838 singing male Kirtland's Warblers, up from lows of 167 in 1974 & 1987. 

______  Saint Lucia 
Icterus laudabilis

The Saint Lucia Oriole has been found during every FONT tour on Saint Lucia. There have been 15 FONT tours on that island.

  ______  Dominican Republic 
(endemic to Hispaniola, mainly in Haiti)
Phaenicophilus poliocephalus


Some Subspecies in the Caribbean classified as ENDANGERED:

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK  ______  Puerto Rico  (endemic)
Accipiter striatus venator 

The subspecies of the Sharp-shinned Hawk
in Puerto Rico

Buteo platypterus insulicola

There are 5 subspecies of the Broad-winged Hawk on West Indian islands. All of them are residents, never coming in contact with those of the same species in eastern North America, Buteo p. platypterus.

The resident Caribbean subspecies occur in Cuba, Puerto Rico (below), and in the Lesser Antilles with B. p. rivierei on Dominica, Martinique, and St, Lucia, and B. p. antillarum on St. Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, and Tobago.
The fifth Caribbean subspecies, Buteo platypterus insulicola, on Antigua, has the smallest range of any of the subspecies, being endemic to just that one small island. 
The bird on Antigua is said to be smaller and lighter than any other subspecies of Broad-winged Hawk. 
The subspecies of the Broad-winged Hawk on Antigua is the only bird endemic to that island.

STYGIAN OWL  ______ 
Dominican Republic
Asio stygius noctipetens

The subspecies of the Stygian Owl on Hispaniola, A. s. noctipetens, is said to be smaller and with whiter markings than other subspecies in Central and South America.

On Hispaniola, the Stygian Owl is a very rare breeding resident in dense deciduous and pine forests in remote areas. 
In recent years, all of the localities where it has been found are in remote old forests, sometimes near caves or in wooded ravines, and not near human dwellings or in second-growth habitats.
Since the mid-1980s, the Stygian Owl has been found sporadically in the pine forests of the Cordillera Central, on the Samana Peninsula, in the Los Haitises National Park, and in the Sierra de Bahoruco. It also occurs on the Ile de Gonave.  

______  Saint Lucia
Caprimulgus rufus otiosus 

Subspecies in the Caribbean classified as VULNERABLE:

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK  ______  Dominican Republic (endemic)
Accipiter s. striatus

  ______  Puerto Rico
Buteo platypterus brunnescens

______  Dominican Republic
(where now endemic, as it has been extirpated in Puerto Rico)
Aramus guarauna elucus

Dominican Republic
Burhinus bistriatus

______  Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico
Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus

A Snowy Plover photographed during a FONT tour 
in the Dominican Republic
(photo by Marie Gardner)

  ______  Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia
Sterna d. dougallii

"SAINT LUCIA WREN" ______ Saint Lucia  (endemic)
Troglodytes aedon mesoleucus

The subspecies of the House Wren on nearby Martinique has been extirpated. 

"SAINT VINCENT WREN" ______ Saint Vincent  (endemic)
 Troglodytes aedon musicus 

Extinct Bird Species in the West Indies: 
(including some either probably or possibly so) 

Approximate years of some last sightings are noted below, following the scientific names 

JAMAICA PETREL  ______  Jamaica (e?), possibly Dominica & Guadeloupe
Pterodroma caribbaea  

The Jamaica Petrel has now been presumed for years to be extinct. It was last collected in 1879.
The bird has been said by some to be an all-dark subspecies of the Black-capped Petrel, but it has now most often been said to be a separate species.  

Until the middle of the 19th Century, the Jamaica Petrel was plentiful, but it then suffered a drastic decline in numbers. When the bird was last collected in 1879, 22 individuals were taken. 

The only proven nesting area was in eastern Jamaica, in the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains. Possibly, the bird may also have nested on the northern Lesser Antillean islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe.   

The bird's demise was probably due to predation by introduced rats (eating eggs) and mongooses (capable of taking incubating adults). Also detrimental to the bird was that it was hunted until the mid-19th Century.

  a migrant in the West Indies
Numenius borealis  

The last sighting (unconfirmed) of the Eskimo Curlew in North America was in the 1980s. 
The last sighting in South America was in 1939.

The last specimen of an Eskimo Curlew was a bird shot in Barbados, in the West Indies, in 1964. 
By the 1970's, it was assumed that the species was gone, but there was a sighting (only) of a flock of 23 birds in Texas in 1981.

In the area of the Caribbean, the Eskimo Curlew was perhaps a rare migrant from late August to early November, except on the island of Barbados where it occurred regularly in American Golden Plover flocks during their southbound migration.

Formerly, the Eskimo Curlew was an abundant breeder in northwestern Canada, and it undertook a long migration south to central Argentina and back each year. 
It was hunted by the thousands for food and sport on the western plains of the United States (during its northbound, spring migration), primarily from 1870 to 1900. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the bird had become relatively scarce. 

Another, longer narrative about the Eskimo Curlew follows, beneath the illustration below.

A painting of an Eskimo Curlew by Archibald Thorbum

Another name for the Eskimo Curlew was the "Doe-bird", sometimes spelled "Dough-bird". That name was due to the bird's acquiring of fatness for its long journey south.  

As North America was being settled by the Europeans, the Eskimo Curlew was one of the most abundant birds on the continent.
It bred on the Barren Grounds of northern Canada. It wintered in far-southern South America. It migrated in between.
It was said, during its southbound migration, to have visited Newfoundland "in millions" darkening the sky.
John James Audubon, Elliot Coues, and other ornithologists of the early 1800s told of immense flights.
In the Prairie States, the numbers of Eskimo Curlews so resembled the tremendous flights of Passenger Pigeons that they were called "Prairie Pigeons".
A single flock alighting in Nebraska was said to have covered 40 to 50 acres of ground.

The Eskimo Curlew migrated south in August southeast to Labrador and Newfoundland, where they fed on "curlew berries" (Empetrum nigrum) and snails, gaining the weight needed for their long journey out over the sea to South America.
Easterly storms, such as hurricanes that time of year, sometimes brought them onto the coasts of New England and Long Island, New York. They often touched down on Lesser Antillean islands, such as Barbados, before continuing on to to the coast of Brazil, and then further to Argentina.

During their northbound spring route, after crossing the Gulf of Mexico, they arrived in March in southern Texas, and then continued up the western Mississippi Valley, and thence further north to where they would nest.

But from being abundant, the status of the Eskimo Curlew in the 19th Century certainly changed.

Incredibly, the Eskimo Curlew was not seen anywhere at its known breeding grounds for years after 1865. 
Just over a century later, in 1987, a small nesting colony was said to be found in the Canadian Arctic, that was maybe the last.
The last breeding grounds of the Eskimo Curlew in northern Canada are said to have been in either Ungava or Franklin.  
The last Eskimo Curlews were either seen or shot at these places as follows:
in Illinois in 1872
in Ontario in 1873
in Ohio in 1878
in Arkansas and Michigan in 1883
in South Dakota and Oklahoma in 1884
in Minnesota in 1885
in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Newfoundland in 1889
in Indiana in 1890
in Iowa in 1893
in Prince Edward Island in 1901
in Kansas, Missouri, and Nova Scotia in 1902
in Quebec in 1906  (fair-sized flocks in the fall were in Quebec until 1891)
in Wisconsin in 1912
in Maryland, and Bermuda in 1913  (fair-sized flocks were in Bermuda until 1874)
in Massachusetts in 1916  (fair-sized flocks were in Massachusetts until 1883)
in Nebraska in 1926  (there was a more-recent report in Nebraska in 1987)    
in Maine in 1929  (fair-sized flocks were in Maine until 1879)
in Labrador and Long Island, New York in 1932 (fair-sized flocks in the fall were in Labrador until 1892) 
in South Carolina in 1956
in New Jersey in 1959
in the Bahamas in 1963
in Barbados in the Lesser Antilles in 1964, when one was shot.

No spring migrant was seen anywhere other than Texas since 1926. 
Along the Gulf coast of Texas, the last confirmed sighting, with a photograph, was at Galveston in 1962. A flock of 23 birds was reported there in 1981.    

There were additional, but unconfirmed records of Eskimo Curlews:
in Texas and Canada in 1987 (the Canadian "breeding site" noted above), in Nova Scotia in 2006, and in Argentina in 1990.  

The last Eskimo Curlews seen and confirmed at wintering grounds in South America, were in Argentina back in n 1939.   

With prevailing westerlies or strong storms, Eskimo Curlews were at times seen across the Atlantic Ocean:
Sighted or shot:
in England in 1852 (2 birds) and 1887.
in Scotland in 1855, 1878, 1880.
in Ireland in 1870.

Cuba (from where specimens were obtained) & Hispaniola (no specimens)
Ara tricolor

The last known occurrence of a Cuban (or Hispaniolan) Red Macaw, Ara tricolor, was when a single wild bird was shot in the area of the Zapata Swamp in Cuba in 1864. Probably a few birds survived beyond that, until about 1885. 
Cory, at about that time, wrote: "Dr. Gundlach writes me that he believes it still occurs in the swamps of southern Cuba". 
A few years earlier, Gundlach noted that in 1849 it could easily be found. 
In the 1850s, the last flock came regularly to feed in a small group of trees at Zarabanda, also in the Zapata Swamp area of Cuba.

The Cuban (or Hispaniolan) Red Macaw was similar to the Scarlet Macaw of Central & South America, but smaller (about 20 inches in length). It had a red breast and brow, a yellow crown and neck, dark blue wings, and a long tail that was blue above and red below.

The bird nested in holes and clefts in palm trees, and favored those palms and the flowering Melia trees for their diet of fruit, seeds, sprouts, and buds.

It's been noted that on occasion the Cuban people killed the macaws for food, and that they captured them, usually in their nests, to be pets.

The Hispaniolan, or Cuban Red Macaw,
now extinct

There is historical reference to a red macaw, also, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (now thought to be the same species as in Cuba). 
In a study in 1985, it was concluded that the origins of Ara tricolor were on Hispaniola, not Cuba. On the basis of old descriptions, it's said that the macaws on Hispaniola could have been a separate subspecies, with a smaller bill, and some minor plumage differences such as a white forehead, rather than red as on the Cuban bird.

No specimens now exist from Hispaniola, but there are still, throughout the world, 19 specimens of the macaws from Cuba, in various museums including those in: Havana, New York, Washington, Cambridge, Mass., London, Liverpool, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Leyden, Stockholm, and Tring. 

This species of macaw may also have occurred, historically, on Jamaica, as "a red macaw" was reportedly shot there in 1765. Unfortunately, that skin was lost. That bird is the first of those listed below.

There seems also to have been some other such macaws, without remaining evidence, on some other West Indian islands: Guadeloupe, St. Croix, and St. Vincent. 

"Yellow-headed Macaw" ______
Jamaica (endemic?, as either a subspecies or a species )
Ara (tricolor) gossei 
(last known in 1765)

Green-and-Yellow Macaw ______
Jamaica (e)
Ara erythrocephala 
(last known in 1842)

Dominican Macaw ______
Dominica (e)
Ara atwoodi  (last known in 1800)

Labat's Parakeet (or Conure) ______
Guadeloupe (e)
Aratinga labati  (last known in 1722)

Guadeloupe Amazon (or Parrot)  ______
Guadeloupe (e)
Amazona violacea  (last known in 1750)

Martinique Amazon (or Parrot) ______
Martinique (e)
Amazona martinica  (last known 1750)

Jamaica (e)
Siphonorhis americanus 
(last known in 1859)

Siphonorhis americanus has also been called Jamaican Pauraque

Chlorostilbon bracei

The Brace's Hummingbird is known only from one specimen collected in 1877.

Campephilus (principalis) bairdii  (endemic to Cuba)

Recent DNA evidence (published in 2006) indicates that what has been said to be a subspecies of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Cuba, Campephilus (principalis) bairdii, is (was) not. 
First described in 1863 as a separate species, the Cuban bird has been shown to be a species more closely related to the Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico than to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker of the southeastern United States. 
By that year (2006), it may well be that all 3 of those woodpeckers had become extinct.

As to habitat, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker of the US has been (or was) in mature lowland hardwood forest, usually by water. The Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been (was) in mature lowland hardwood and hill pine forests. The Imperial Woodpecker in Mexico occurred in pine forests in hills and mountains.

In recent study, dating analyses reveal that the American & the Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and the Imperial Woodpecker diverged sometime in the mid-Pleistocene. A sea-level difference at that time of more than 30 meters (90 feet) would have increased the size of the Yucatan Peninsula and reduced the current distance between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, and thus, could possibly, have favored colonization of Cuba by a woodpecker presumably averse to flying over water.

Cayman Islands (on Grand Cayman Is.) (e)
Turdus ravidus

Vermivora bachmanii 

The Bachman's Warbler was a winter visitor in Cuba from North America. It was  last recorded in 1964.

St. Lucia (e) 
Leucopeza semperi


Evidence suggests that there was formerly a "GIANT BARN OWL" on Hispaniola.
The Barn Owl (Tyto alba pratincola) and the closely-related Ashy-faced Owl (Tyto glaucops) continue on the island today.

Fossils in the Cayman Islands indicate that historically there were, on those islands, some birds now extinct:
2 raptors (a large hawk and a caracara), and a second species of bullfinch (an endemic subspecies of the Cuban Bullfinch occurs there today). 


of the Uniform Crake:  "JAMAICAN WOOD RAIL"  ______  Jamaica (e)
Aramides c. concolor 
(last known in 1881)

of the Hispaniolan Parakeet (or Conure):  "PUERTO RICAN CONURE" ______ Mona Island & mainland Puerto Rico
Aratinga chloroptera maugei 
(last known in 1892)

of the Puerto Rican Amazon (or Parrot):  "CULEBRA ISLAND AMAZON" ______  Culebra Is. PR (e) 
Amazona vittata gracileps

of the Burrowing Owl:
1) Speotyto cunicularia amaura  ______
Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts  (last known in 1900)
2) Speotyto cunicularia guadeloupensis 
Guadeloupe (e)  (last known in 1900)

of the Golden Swallow:
Tachycineta e. euchrysea ______
Jamaica (e)  (last seen in 1989, but maybe since)

of the House Wren: 
Troglodytes aedon guadeloupensis ______
Guadeloupe (e)
Troglodytes aedon martinicensis ______
Martinique (e)

The subspecies of the House Wren on St. Lucia, the "ST. LUCIA WREN" was, about 1970, thought to be extinct, but has subsequently  been rediscovered. It has been seen during FONT tours on that island.

of the Forest Thrush:
Cichlherminia lherminiieri sanctaeluciae  ______
St. Lucia (e)

of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch
Loxigilla portoricensis grandis  ______ 
St. Kitts (e) (last known in 1900)

of the Jamaican Oriole
Icterus leucopteryx bardi  ______ 
Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman) (e) (last known in 1967) 


Threatened Birds of the World (a Birdlife International publication), Lynx Edicions, 2000, and later, updated information on the internet.