& PUERTO RICO
17 MARCH – 5 APRIL 2007
LEADER: MARK VAN BEIRS
Repeated exquisite encounters with adorable Red-billed Streamertails, many eye-ball to eye-ball
views of endearing Broad-billed Todies, a pair of incredibly obliging and rare Ridgway’s Hawks at
their eyrie, a perfectly-behaved Jamaican Owl in the scope, fantastic studies of Crested and
Hispaniolan Quail-Doves and a trio of rare Puerto Rican Parrots in flight were some of the highlights
of our seventh tour to these Caribbean islands. We recorded all 28 Jamaican endemics, all but one of
the available endemics on our route in the Dominican Republic (30) and all 17 Puerto Rican
endemics. Add to that most of the possible multi-island endemics, a great selection of waterbirds,
waders and warblers and the unique Caribbean atmosphere and one soon realizes why this is one of
my favourite tours. However, we often had to work hard to get to grips with some of the specialties,
making for some ridiculously early starts. The weather was generally quite atypical, with regular
downpours and often overcast skies. A great bonus of this tour is the chance to add two restricted
range bird families to the tally: the gorgeous Todies (Todidae - of which we saw four out of five) and
the bizarre Palmchat, the only member of its family. A total of 205 species were recorded on this
tour, including no fewer than 27 species, which are mentioned by BirdLife International in
“Threatened Birds of the World”.
A long flight took us via Miami to Kingston, Jamaica’s infamous capital, from where we drove to the
Sutton’s estate at Marshall’s Pen in the hills of central Jamaica. The whole group finally got together
and on our first morning in the gardens and copses around the Great White House we saw more than
half of the endemics, including lots of species carrying the epithet Jamaican. The birding was really
overwhelming. Best of all were the adorable and extremely elegant Red-billed Streamertails that
flitted everywhere and obviously stole the show, but other goodies included Jamaican Mango,
Zenaida Dove, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Woodpecker, Jamaican Elaenia, Jamaican Pewee, Sad and
Rufous-tailed Flycatchers, White-eyed Thrush, Jamaican Vireo, Black-throated Blue Warbler,
Jamaican Euphonia, Jamaican Stripe-headed Tanager, Orangequit and Jamaican Oriole. After a hearty
breakfast we wandered a bit further on the property and observed American Kestrel, several smart
Caribbean Doves, the tiny Vervain Hummingbird, Jamaican Becard and Arrow-headed Warbler. In
the afternoon we got drenched in a heavy downpour, but still obtained brief views of a shy Crested
Quail-Dove and good looks at an impressive Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo and Greater Antillean
1 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Bullfinch. Dusk gave us a splendid scope observation of a Jamaican Owl and a magnificent, bizarre-
looking Northern Potoo. No fewer than 19 out of 28 endemics succumbed today. Not a bad start at
Next morning at dawn we were munching our picnic breakfast at a strategically chosen spot in the
wilderness of the Cockpit country, a mosaic of low limestone hills, looking for the entire world like a
giant egg board. This isolated and virtually inaccessible area enjoys a high degree of plant endemism
and is a refuge to a number of scarce endemic birds. Both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Parrots,
Ring-tailed Pigeon, Jamaican Crow (with their great squawking calls) and an attractive Yellow-
shouldered Grassquit all obliged. We also scoped a multi-island endemic Plain Pigeon. On our return
we made a short stop in a patch of rough pasture where soon an unobtrusive Grasshopper Sparrow
showed at length. In the afternoon we visited several ponds, lakes and marshes in the southwest of
the island where we found Caribbean Coot, several rare West Indian Whistling Duck, American
Wigeon and Ring-necked Duck amongst a rich variety of many more widespread waterbirds. Our
man on the spot found a Northern Potoo on a day roost and we also noted several Small Indian
Mongooses. A large American Crocodile lay sunning itself on a quiet mud bank and on the return
drive we were able to admire an adorable Barn Owl. We recorded no fewer than 95 species today!
On our last morning at the Sutton’s estate we looked hard for the specialities we were still missing
and finally caught up with Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, but the Crested Quail-Dove was only heard
briefly. A Jamaican Mango really showed well in the bright morning light and a fruiting tree held a
splendid assortment of birds including several Jamaican Stripe-headed Tanagers, a Black-whiskered
Vireo, Jamaican Euphonias and Jamaican Orioles. After a scrumptious lunch we said farewell to
hospitable Marshall’s Pen and drove to the Portland peninsula on the south coast where we were
soon scoping our quarry, a singing Bahama Mockingbird. A Stolid Flycatcher also showed and in the
mangroves we managed to study a sneaky Clapper Rail at length. In late afternoon we rolled into
Kingston, where the World Cup Cricket was the topic of the day, but I still don’t understand a thing
about that sport. One day….
Dawn found us at the Hardwar Gap at the western end of the Blue Mountains overlooking Jamaica’s
capital and scenic harbour. Along a quiet track, in the remaining patches of montane forest at an
altitude of 1100m we finally obtained scope views of the endemic Crested Quail-Dove, usually the
toughest of the endemics to get good looks at. A cracking Rufous-throated Solitaire showed brilliantly
as it performed its magnificent ethereal song and we had several great encounters with Blue
Mountain Vireos in the location it was named after. Lovely Arrow-headed Warblers performed at
minimal distance and then the mist started to come in and sabotaged our endeavours for Jamaican
On our last full day in Jamaica we visited the little known John Crow Mountains in the extreme east
of the island and we needed a very early start to reach our birding spot fairly soon after dawn as the
roads in this part of the island were riddled with potholes. But soon after arriving we were already
admiring the antics of a superb male Black-billed Streamertail, our main target here. We also
observed several males without elongated tail feathers. The forest edge habitat here proved to be very
birdy as we managed to find an excellent selection of Jamaica’s endemics here. We also noted a
partly leucistic Turkey Vulture (that we had also seen here two and four years ago - like an old
friend), four Ospreys, a perched Merlin and several Red-tailed Hawks. Then followed a long and
relaxed drive along the eastern and southern coast of the azure blue Caribbean Sea.
Next morning we were frantically trying to locate our last endemic, the Jamaican Blackbird, in the
Blue Mountains. We listened and kept our eyes peeled in a stretch of appropriate habitat, but nothing
happened except for a few distant calls. After a couple of hours we returned to the bus rather
gloomily and just a few meters from the bus we first heard and then saw our target. We managed to
scope it while it was preening and it then flew off to inspect a large bromeliad. Splendid stuff. The
2 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
last Jamaican endemic had finally succumbed. Immensely happy and quite relieved we boarded our
bus to take us to Kingston airport. A few minutes after leaving our driver stopped, started to check the
tyres of the bus and told us that a rather large rock had lodged itself in between the two left hand
back tyres. It took more than an hour to dislodge it, and we were really getting rather worried about
catching our flight, but luckily we easily made it to the airport on time. The rest of the day was spent
waiting and flying, and Miami airport was not as bad as it could have been. Upon arrival at Santo
Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, our faithful driver was waiting for us and we were
soon on our way to distant Barahona, in the far southwest of the country.
On our first day in the Dominican Republic we visited the lower and middle slopes of the famous
Sierra de Baoruco National Park. The habitat consisted of xerophytic scrub and dry deciduous
woodland, which became more evergreen as we ascended. We amassed a good selection of
Hispaniolan endemics, including the much-wanted Palmchat, which looked so serious at the large
stick nests in the elegant palm trees. Several Broad-billed Todies showed extremely well, as these
magnificent little creatures were found digging nest holes in low cliff faces. Hispaniolan Lizard
Cuckoo granted nice looks, a Flat-billed Vireo performed on cue, Hispaniolan Woodpeckers proved
to be common and extremely obliging and several pairs of Hispaniolan Parrots squawked past. A
colourful Hispaniolan Trogon was much appreciated, as were Hispaniolan Stripe-headed Tanager,
Black-crowned Palm Tanager and Hispaniolan Oriole. The latter is a recent split from Greater
Antillean Oriole and thus the latest addition to the list of Hispaniolan endemics. We also added
Scaly-naped Pigeon, Burrowing Owl, Grey Kingbird, Caribbean Martin and a beautiful male Cape
May Warbler to the tally. Next day we explored the southern slopes of the Sierra de Baoruco and
spent the morning in a nice stretch of dry pine woodland and an adjoining belt of evergreen
shrubbery. Here we found lots of Scaly-naped Pigeons, Antillean Mango, Hispaniolan Emerald, very
vocal but elusive Antillean Piculets, Hispaniolan Pewee, some handsome Golden Swallows, Red-
legged Thrush, Pine Warbler, Antillean Euphonia, our only Antillean Siskin of the tour and heard
several Northern Bobwhites. In the afternoon we paid a visit to the Laguna de Oviedo where both
Hispaniolan Palm Crow and White-necked Crow showed in the far distance and some Roseate
Spoonbills added a splash of colour. We could not find any of the usually present American
Flamingos. Maybe the copious amounts of rain had made the lagoon unattractive for them and their
To reach the upper slopes of the Sierra at dawn needed an early start, but we also wanted to include
a bit of nightbirding on the way, so a really early departure was called for! A couple of Antillean
Nighthawks flitted by on our drive up. In a patch of dry woodland we heard a Least Poorwill at close
range and even glimpsed it, but it didn’t really want to play and kept calling in the distance. At dawn
we were at our favourite patch of evergreen montane forest where we soon managed to observe a
couple of Hispaniolan Quail-Doves and a rare La Selle Thrush!! Great stuff!! More endemics kept
coming as Hispaniolan Highland Tanager (ex White-winged Warbler), Green-tailed Ground Tanager
(ex Green-tailed Ground Warbler) and Narrow-billed Tody granted perfect views. A Western Chat
Tanager proved more difficult as this inveterate, well-voiced skulker was seen well by some, and
totally missed by others. Once in the pine zone it started to rain and on our return we stepped into
Haiti and managed to get Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo on our Haiti list. We witnessed the ecological
disaster taking place here, which is so well portrayed in Al Gore’s award winning film “An
Inconvenient Truth”. The virtually bare hills of the sad wasteland of Haiti offered a great contrast to
the lush forest-clad hills of the Dominican Republic. But, sadly, where the Dominican authorities
used to act swiftly and sternly against illegal chopping and squatting, they now are letting Haitians
live in the Baoruco National Park. During our stay we could hear the axes do their disastrous work
and the future for specialities like La Selle Thrush does not look good!! On our way down we found a
shallow nest of a Burrowing Owl with a tiny, naked chick. Next day, another visit to the middle
reaches of the Sierra in search of the still missing endemics eventually yielded fair views of a shy Bay-
breasted Cuckoo and perfect scope studies of a posing Antillean Piculet. We also explored the shore
of Lago Enriquillo, where due to very high water levels we found the shoreline very close to the main
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road. Hispaniolan Palm Crows showed well and good selection of waterbirds included White-
cheeked Pintail and Glossy Ibis. Sadly, American Flamingos could not be found here either. A
splendid and very well behaved Mangrove Cuckoo foraged unobtrusively just meters away.
Another early start was called for as we badly wanted some more nightbirds and after some
appropriate waiting on the southern slopes of the Sierra we were eventually rewarded with great
views of a cracking Hispaniolan Nightjar. It almost attacked us and was much admired. While the
first sunrays were hitting the trees we managed to scope a well-behaved Western Chat Tanager and
not much later a couple of Hispaniolan Crossbills were noted. A Sharp-shinned Hawk and a nice
selection of warblers added some fun and we then returned to Barahona, said goodbye to the
southwest of the Dominican Republic and drove to the central mountain range, north of Santo
In the early morning we were listening for our quarry at 1300m, but there was no song at all. Over
the course of the morning we never heard or caught a glimpse of the secretive Eastern Chat Tanager.
No luck at all.... This would prove to be the only single island endemic that went unrecorded on the
tour! A real pity. Narrow-billed Todies at minimal distance and the only Rufous-collared Sparrows of
the Caribbean saved the morning and soon we were driving east to the Los Haitises National Park. A
short stop at some cliffs where we had seen White-tailed Tropicbird on previous occasions drew a
blank and good numbers of Turkey Vultures were beginning to appear. Why were they so common
here and totally absent in the south and southwest? In late afternoon we arrived at our lovely
accommodation and after dinner we tried for Ashy-faced Owl, but it soon became obvious that
nothing was going to work today.
Next morning we walked into the forest-clad limestone hills of the Los Haitises National Park and our
man on the spot took us to an occupied eyrie of the very rare Ridgway’s Hawk. We obtained
smashing views of both parents of this Critically Endangered species at its only stronghold left in
Hispaniola. We saw the male bird keeping guard and the female sitting on the nest, situated on top of
active Palmchat nest in a palm tree. We had a great time observing the antics of the rarest Buteo in
the world from our clear vantage point. We also obtained great looks at a very cooperative Antillean
Piculet and later scoped an obliging Ruddy Quail-Dove. A female Antillean Mango sat on her tiny
nest and a Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo growled at us with a green Anole lizard in its bill. A pair of
vociferous White-necked Crows allowed close up views of their bright red eyes and white-based
neck feathers. We also observed the interesting behaviour of Palmchats at their nests. Another
evening owl search produced only calls of a distant bird and a glimpse by one lucky soul. We tried
again in the early morning and again came back empty handed. Alas.
We then left our gracious hosts and made our way to Santo Domingo airport, where we took a short
flight to nearby Puerto Rico. US immigration and customs were fairly smooth and while driving to the
northeast of the island we experienced a whole different feeling compared to the rasta aura of
Jamaica and the very Latin mood of the Dominican Republic. We were definitely in the United States
with its wide highways, fast food joints, and lots of advertising and bright neon lights. On our first full
day on Puerto Rico we visited the Luquillo Mountains and enjoyed a flurry of endemics. Before dawn
we already managed to get fair looks at the cute Puerto Rican Screech Owl at our favourite spot in
the El Yunque National Forest. During our al fresco breakfast endemics like Puerto Rican
Woodpecker, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Puerto Rican Tanager and Puerto Rican Bullfinch showed
beautifully and eventually we were rewarded by flight views of three Puerto Rican Parrots, definitely
the rarest of the Puerto Rican endemics. A short visit to some gardens in the Fajardo area produced
great views of Green-throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird, two mainly Lesser Antillean
species that just spill over into the Greater Antilles in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico. We also
saw our first Pearly-eyed Thrasher here and then drove across the whole diagonal of the island. We
paid an introductory visit to the Maricao State Forest where several more endemics performed on
cue: Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Green Mango, Puerto Rican Tody, Puerto Rican Vireo, Puerto
4 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Rican Stripe-headed Tanager and the attractive Elfin Woods Warbler. By late afternoon we had
already seen no fewer than 14 out of the 17 Puerto Rican endemics!! Excellent value. An after dinner
owling session eventually yielded great views for everyone of the cute Puerto Rican Screech Owl. Just
after dawn in the Maricao State Forest things took a while to get started, but soon Puerto Rican Pewee
and Puerto Rican Vireo put in an appearance. After a delightful sit down breakfast we strolled around
the grounds of our hotel where we admired a male Puerto Rican Stripe-headed Tanager. We then
visited the south coast where we watched several rare endemic Yellow-shouldered Blackbirds come
in to drink and bathe together with African Collared Doves and a Pin-tailed Whydah. A pair of
Yellow-shouldered Blackbirds was sadly attending a young Shiny Cowbird. Disaster in action as the
parasitic Shiny Cowbirds are the main threat to the survival of the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. An
endemic Adelaide’s Warbler showed splendidly. A late afternoon visit to the saltpans, mud flats and
cliffs of Cabo Rojo produced Brown Booby, Wilson’s and Snowy Plovers and Caribbean Elaenia.
Next morning, before breakfast, we were admiring Puerto Rican Woodpecker and Puerto Rican
Oriole in the hotel gardens and another short stop at the Maricao State Forest gave us more Puerto
Rican Orioles and attractive Puerto Rican Todies. In the Guanica Forest we checked out a patch of
dry woodland where Adelaide’s Warbler proved to be common. After settling into our splendid hotel
we visited a mangrove-lined pond where White-cheeked Pintail and Blue-winged Teal loafed. We
then walked into the cactus-studded dry open woodland and waited till dusk for the distinctive calls
of the Puerto Rican Nightjar. After a bit of diligent work, we managed fair views of one in flight in the
spotlight. This was our last endemic of Puerto Rico and the last birding experience of our successful
5 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Species which were heard but not seen are indicated by the symbol (H).
Species which were not personally recorded by the leader are indicated by the symbol (NL).
Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus: Some great views on a lake in western Jamaica.
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps: c40, both in breeding and non-breeding plumages on a
lake in western Jamaica.
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster: Several young birds were loafing along the coast at Cabo Rojo in
western Puerto Rico.
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis: Regular sightings of this highly distinctive species. Many
adults were in immaculate breeding attire.
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus: Two late wintering birds were found on a lake in
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens: The distinctive, extremely elegant, silhouette of these
kleptoparasites was a regular sight along the coast of all three islands. Frigatebirds have
the lowest wing-loading (low weight in contrast to large wing area) of all birds, enabling
them to be amongst the most nimble of fliers.
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis: Excellent scope views of a cracking adult at the Black River in
Jamaica. A real cutie.
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias: Regular sightings. A non-breeding visitor in this part of the Greater
Great Egret Ardea alba: Many encounters on al three islands.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula: Many on all three islands.
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea: Small numbers on all three islands. We also saw the distinctively
mottled, sometimes somewhat puzzling immature plumage.
Tricoloured Heron (Louisiana Heron) Egretta tricolor: Several in superb and highly attractive
breeding plumage on all three islands.
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens: Good looks at six white morph birds in Jamaica and in the
Dominican Republic. They were showing off their very active prancing foraging
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis: Too many...
Green Heron Butorides virescens: Several observations of this handsome breeding species.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax: c20 in western Jamaica and a single bird in the
Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea: Four observations of this usually only rarely
encountered species on Jamaica and in the Dominican Republic.
6 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus: We noted three on Jamaica and 35 along the shore of Lago Enriquillo
in the Dominican Republic.
Roseate Spoonbill Ajaia ajaja: Twelve showed in the shimmering distance at the Laguna de Oviedo
and a single allowed better views along the shore of Lago Enriquillo (Dominican
West Indian Whistling-Duck (West Indian Tree Duck) Dendrocygna arborea: About a dozen showed
quite well at the Black River marshes in Jamaica. This species is restricted to the Greater
Antilles, and Cuba holds the bulk of the population (maybe in excess of 10,000 birds).
This is the rarest of the eight species of the genus Dendrocygna. It is classified as
Vulnerable by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’, a truly splendid
book that offers a wealth of information on the sad status of 10% of the world’s avifauna.
White-cheeked Pintail (Bahama Pintail) Anas bahamensis: We saw eight along the shore of Lago
Enriquillo (Dominican Republic), a single at the Cabo Rojo salt flats and 15 on a pond at
the Guanica State Forest (Puerto Rico).
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors: We observed 30 on a lake in western Jamaica and 25 on a pond at
the Guanica State Forest (Puerto Rico). This attractive species is the most common
migrant duck in the Caribbean.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata: A single drake of this well known Holarctic species was found on
a lake in western Jamaica.
American Wigeon Anas americana: A pair of these northern migrants showed in the distance on a
lake in western Jamaica.
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris: We observed eight of these northern migrants on a lake in
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura: Very common in Jamaica and regular in the eastern Dominican
Republic and in Puerto Rico. The attractive (!!) partially leucistic individual that we saw
in eastern Jamaica (and also saw at exactly the same spot two and four years ago) really
caught our eye. Quite a stunner!!
Osprey Pandion haliaetus: No fewer than 18 observations of this widespread piscivore. Great views
of a feeding bird at Cabo Rojo (Puerto Rico). Recent genetic studies suggest that the
Pandion complex may better be considered as five different species. The form recorded
on this tour is the migratory North American carolinensis.
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus: A single was seen in the Sierra de Baoruco National Park
(Dominican Republic) and we were shown an active nest at the Maricao State Forest in
Ridgway’s Hawk Buteo ridgwayi: Fantastic prolonged views of a pair of these endemic raptors at
their eyrie in the Los Haitises National Park in the eastern Dominican Republic. The
status of Ridgway’s Hawk is considered as Critical by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’ and the total population is estimated at fewer than 250
birds, easily making it the rarest Buteo in the world!! The species is now confined to the
Los Haitises National Park and in view of the sad state of affair of the National Park –
serious encroachment by squatters, virtual lack of protection – one should be extremely
7 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
pessimistic about the long term survival of this bird of prey. It was voted as number three
in the Bird of the Trip contest. The bird is named after Robert Ridgway (1850-1929), US
ornithologist, Smithsonian curator of birds and author of “The Birds of North and Middle
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis: Regular observations on all three islands. An appropriate
American Kestrel Falco sparverius: This minute and handsome bird of prey was commonly
encountered on all three islands. We saw birds with pure white and with reddish-brown
underparts. One of its local names in the Dominican Republic is Cernícalo, a word
derived from Tsar Nicholas, a formerly ‘high perched’ monarch. This refers to the habit of
the falcon to frequent high exposed perches from which it searches its prey.
Merlin Falco columbarius: Six observations of this well known and dashing Nearctic migrant.
Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus (H): We heard the distinctive call in the highlands of the
Sierra de Baoruco in the Dominican Republic. It was introduced to the Dominican
Republic in 1890.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris: Several showed well in the highlands of the Sierra de
Baoruco (Dominican Republic). An obvious introduction.
Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris: Excellent views of two birds in a patch of mangrove in southern
Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica: A few along a reedy edge in western Jamaica.
Common Moorhen (Common Gallinule) Gallinula chloropus: Especially common in Jamaica, but
also seen in the Dominican Republic and in Puerto Rico.
American Coot Fulica americana: 100+ on a lake in western Jamaica.
Caribbean Coot Fulica caribea: Three were identified amongst the more common American Coots on
a lake in western Jamaica. Interbreeding has been observed on several islands in the
Caribbean. It is classified as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened
Birds of the World’.
Limpkin Aramus guarauna: One showed beautifully in western Jamaica and we regularly heard it in
the Los Haitises area in the Dominican Republic.
Black-bellied Plover (Grey Plover) Pluvialis squatarola: Regular in non-breeding plumage on all three
Snowy Plover (Kentish Plover) Charadrius alexandrinus: A dozen or so were seen on the Cabo Rojo
salt flats in western Puerto Rico. A breeding resident.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus: This northern migrant was seen in western Jamaica
and in the southwest of Puerto Rico.
Wilson’s Plover Charadrius wilsonia: Several excellent sightings of this local breeder on mudflats in
8 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus: A few sightings of this vociferous breeding species in the Dominican
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus: This noisy and attractive wader was regularly observed
on all three islands.
Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa: Just five at the Black River marshes in Jamaica. Extremely long toes!!
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca: Regular encounters. A distinctive voice.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes: Regular sightings.
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus: Just a few were seen in western Jamaica. Spectacular in flight.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia: Regular observations. A single started to show its breeding
plumage at the Guanica lagoon.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres: Ten of these well-known migrants were seen along the coast in
Sanderling Calidris alba: A single in winter plumage on Jamaica.
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla: Regular observations on all three islands.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla: Good looks at c200 in western Jamaica and at c50 in the
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla: Regular observations, often of adult birds in immaculate breeding
Royal Tern Sterna maxima: The most common tern of these islands. Very good looks at the roost in
Kingston harbour (Jamaica), where we found several birds to be ringed.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis: A few showed well in Kingston harbour (Jamaica).
Common Tern Sterna hirundo: A single showed briefly in the distance at Cabo Rojo (Puerto Rico).
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia: No comment.
Scaly-naped Pigeon (Red-necked Pigeon) Columba squamosa: Regularly observed in the highlands
of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Some exquisite scope studies. It is restricted
to the Caribbean and to several islands off the Venezuelan coast.
White-crowned Pigeon Columba leucocephala: This Caribbean specialty was found most commonly
on Jamaica. A lovely species!!!
Plain Pigeon Columba inornata: A single showed well in the Cockpit Country in Jamaica and we had
several observations in the Dominican Republic. This species also occurs in very small
numbers in Cuba and Puerto Rico, but the healthiest populations seem to survive in Haiti.
This Caribbean endemic is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Ring-tailed Pigeon Columba caribaea: This Jamaican endemic was encountered in the Cockpit
Country, at the Hardwar Gap and in the John Crow Mountains. We obtained fantastic
scope views. This species is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
9 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
African Collared Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea: 15+ were seen and heard at La Parguera (Puerto
Rico). This form is often called Ringed Turtle Dove Streptopelia risoria in North
American field guides, but most taxonomists do not consider this to be a separate species,
but rather as the long domesticated form of African Collared Dove Streptopelia
roseogrisea. The birds showed a lot of variation in their plumage.
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica: Regular sightings on all three islands. A distinctive voice of dry
scrub habitat. The scientific epithet is not very appropriate.
Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita: A regularly observed species on the three islands. Some cracking
scope views of this truly handsome dove. The bird is named after Zénaïde Laetitia Julie
Princesse Bonaparte (1804-1854), wife of French ornithologist Prince Charles Bonaparte,
a close relative of infamous Napoleon Bonaparte.
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura: Regular encounters.
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina: Many. The scientific epithet relates to the sparrow-like
size of these tiny doves (passer = sparrow).
Caribbean Dove (White-bellied Dove) Leptotila jamaicensis: Several excellent observations of this
very attractive and rather shy forest dweller in Jamaica. It only occurs on Jamaica, the
Cayman Islands, San Andrés, south-eastern Mexico and on islands off northern Honduras.
It has also been introduced to the Bahamas.
Key West Quail-Dove Geotrygon chrysie (H): We heard its distinctive voice in the woodlands of the
lower reaches of the Sierra de Baoruco (Dominican Republic). A Caribbean specialty.
Hispaniolan Quail-Dove Geotrygon leucometopius: A couple of smashing observations on the tracks
in the higher reaches of the Sierra de Baoruco (Dominican Republic). A great showing as
this quail-dove is usually one of the most difficult Hispaniolan endemics to get to grips
with. It was formerly lumped in Grey-headed Quail-Dove Geotrygon caniceps, which is
now confined to Cuba. The species is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana: Several brief observations of this widespread, but secretive
Neotropical species at Marshall’s Pen (Jamaica), but the prolonged scope studies of one
in the Los Haitises National Park (Dominican Republic) were out of this world.
Crested Quail-Dove Geotrygon versicolor: A handsome Jamaican endemic, that we saw briefly at
Marshall’s Pen and observed very well in the Blue Mountains above Kingston. It is
classified as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Hispaniolan Parakeet Aratinga chloroptera: Great looks at this declining endemic in the Sierra de
Baoruco (Dominican Republic). This species is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife
International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Jamaican Parakeet Aratinga nana: Regular observations of this Jamaican endemic in Jamaica and
Hispaniola. The occurrence on Hispaniola is a bit of a mystery and the origin of these
birds is unknown (escaped or deliberately introduced birds?). Raffaele et al and Clements
consider it as a subspecies of the widespread Olive-throated Parakeet.
Yellow-billed Parrot Amazona collaria: Excellent observations of this Jamaican endemic in the
Cockpit Country and in the John Crow Mountains. This species is classified as Vulnerable
by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Hispaniolan Parrot Amazona ventralis: Repeated excellent scope studies of this Hispaniolan endemic
in the Sierra de Baoruco. This species is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International
in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Puerto Rican Parrot Amazona vittata: Fair views of three in flight from our viewpoint in the Luquillo
Mountains. It is classified as Critical by Birdlife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the
World‘. The population stands now at c40 individuals (with over 100 in captivity), and a
10 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
major conservation action is in place. It used to be widespread and common all over
Puerto Rico and was at one time considered an agricultural pest. Since then it has
suffered from the almost total loss of its forested habitat (the area occupied by the bird is
now only 0.2% of its original range) and the crippling effects of being taken for pets and
food. By the 1930s its population of c2000 was confined to the rainforest in the Luquillo
Mountains. The population continued to decline, till an all-time low of 13 wild birds in
1975. Recovery has been steady since, with the help of artificial nest sites, control of nest
predators (Pearly-eyed Thrashers) and competitors, and captive breeding. Since then
several fierce hurricanes have had an adverse effect on the tiny population. 26 birds were
released at Luquillo in 2000 and 2001 to boost the wild population.
Black-billed Parrot Amazona agilis: At least 15 in the Cockpit Country (Jamaica). Gorgeous scope
views. This endemic is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened
Birds of the World’.
Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor: Fantastic close up views of one in the lower reaches of the
Sierra de Baoruco (Dominican Republic).
Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo Saurothera vieilloti: Several lovely observations of this endemic. The
four species of Lizard Cuckoos (one each on the Greater Antillean islands) show red bare
skin around the eye, a long thin bill and white-tipped tail feathers. One of their local
names is pajaro bobo (stupid bird), probably because they can be very confiding.
Saurothera = lizard hunter.
Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo Saurothera longirostris: Quite a few were seen in the drier areas at the
lower altitudes of the Sierra de Baoruco and also in the Los Haitises National Park. The
growling bird holding a green Anole lizard made quite an impression. It also proved that
the name is well chosen.
Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo Saurothera vetula: This Jamaican endemic was seen very well in the
Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo Hyetornis pluvialis: A Jamaican endemic that performed beautifully on
several occasions. Hyetornis = rainbird (huetos=rain, ornis=bird in Greek) and pluvialis
refers to rain too, as the calls of this bird are said to presage rain, hence its local name
Bay-breasted Cuckoo Hyetornis rufigularis: It took a while, but eventually we managed to get fair
looks at this rare and impressive Hispaniolan endemic in the Sierra de Baoruco. This
species is classified as Endangered by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the
World’. It is hunted for its supposed medicinal value.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani: Many, many, many and nobody’s favourite
Barn Owl Tyto alba: Several observations of this well known and widespread species. Best of all
were the magnificent views of one that posed next to our bus just after dusk in the Black
River area in Jamaica.
Ashy-faced Owl Tyto glaucops: We heard (and one person glimpsed) this Hispaniolan endemic near
its nesting tree in the eastern Dominican Republic. Very different vocalizations compared
to Barn Owl. We sure tried….
11 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Puerto Rican Screech-Owl Megascops nudipes: We first saw it fairly briefly in the Luquillo
Mountains and then obtained excellent views of this cute nocturnal critter in the Maricao
area. Angry looks and truly amazing calls!! This endemic is an atypical screech-owl, as it
does not show ear tufts. New World Screech-Owls are now usually placed in the genus
Megascops, and not in Otus anymore.
Burrowing Owl Speotyto cunicularia: Regular encounters with this endearing fellow in the drier
areas of the Sierra de Baoruco (Dominican Republic). We found an open nest on a very
low craggy cliff face with a tiny chick.
Jamaican Owl Pseudoscops grammicus: A lovely bird was roosting in a big tree at Marshall’s Pen
and offered fabulous scope views as it emerged one evening. A heart-warming
experience. This owl is a Jamaican endemic and is the sole member of its genus. It scored
high in the Bird of the Trip contest.
Antillean Nighthawk Chordeiles gundlachii: Several were noted pre dawn in the Barahona area in
the Dominican Republic.
Least Poorwill (Least Pauraque) Siphonorhis brewsteri: We heard this Hispaniolan endemic singing
nearby, but only managed to glimpse it in a patch of scrubby forest on the lower slopes of
the Sierra de Baoruco in the Dominican Republic. An endemic genus. It is classified as
Data Deficient by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’, but numbers
must be low as it is only known from a handful of localities.
Hispaniolan Nightjar Caprimulgus ekmani: Great views, eventually, of this Hispaniolan endemic in
the Sierra de Baoruco (Dominican Republic). Our best views ever as the bird perched in
the open nearby. Very vocal. An excellent experience.
Puerto Rican Nightjar (Puerto Rican Whip-poor-will) Caprimulgus noctitherus: Several were heard
and a single observed quite well just after dusk in the Guanica forest. The total
population is in the order of 670-800 pairs. This endemic is classified as Critical by
BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’. This species was first described
in 1888 and was then considered extinct for over 70 years, till it was re-found in the
Guanica forest in 1961. It is ironic that apparently a Civilian Conservation Corps camp
located in Guanica Forest from 1935 to 1945 was so disturbed by the nocturnal calling of
these birds that a request was made that they be chased away!
Northern Potoo Nyctibius jamaicensis: Fantastic views of this weird bird during an evening walk at
Marshall’s Pen (Jamaica). The following day eagle-eyed Brandon found a roosting bird at
the Black River Marsh. This form used to be lumped in Common Potoo Nyctibius griseus,
but differs from this mainly South American species by its different call and different
roosting pose (the head is held horizontally in stead of in line with the body).
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris: A few were observed in the Blue Mountains (Jamaica).
Antillean Palm Swift Tachornis phoenicobia: Common on Jamaica and Hispaniola and usually
encountered near palms. A Caribbean specialty.
Jamaican Mango Anthracothorax mango: We all got very good views of this Jamaican endemic at
12 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Antillean Mango Anthracothorax dominicus: Many splendid encounters with this multi-island
endemic. Pete found an active nest in the Los Haitises National Park (Dominican
Green Mango Anthracothorax viridis: Several cracking observations of this uniform green Puerto
Rican endemic, which is restricted to the highlands.
Green-throated Carib Eulampis holosericeus: A mainly Lesser Antillean species which reaches the
Greater Antilles in the northeast of Puerto Rico. Dynamite looks at a showy bird at
Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus: A male and a female performed at length in
flowering bushes at Fajardo, allowing us breath-taking views of this exquisite bird.
Another mainly Lesser Antillean species that reaches the Greater Antilles in the northeast
of Puerto Rico.
Hispaniolan Emerald Chlorostilbon swainsonii: Several at higher altitudes in the Sierra de Baoruco
(Dominican Republic). A Hispaniolan endemic.
Puerto Rican Emerald Chlorostilbon maugaeus: Many nice observations in the Luquillo Mountains
and in the Maricao area.
Black-billed Streamertail (Eastern Streamertail) Trochilus scitulus: We observed this localized and
endemic species in the John Crow Mountains in the east of Jamaica. We had superb
looks at eight individuals. The bill is indeed black, but also looks narrower and the green
plumage has a different sheen to it.
Red-billed Streamertail (Western Streamertail) Trochilus polytmus: A common and marvellous
endemic of all habitats on Jamaica. It was the first bird we observed when stepping out of
our lodgings on our first morning in Jamaica. Regularly observed at very, very close
quarters and definitely the favourite bird of the tour. A glorious bird!! The number one
bird for Pete, Douglas and Graham.
Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima: This tiny critter was regularly seen (and even more often
heard) on Hispaniola and Jamaica. It is the second smallest bird in the world and an adult
only weighs 2.6g (0.1oz)!!
Hispaniolan Trogon Priotelus roseigaster: Regular encounters with this endemic in the highlands of
the Dominican Republic. A real cracker of a bird, that repeatedly offered fantastic views.
Its local name is papagaio. It is classified as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Broad-billed Tody Todus subulatus: We saw this tiny species all over the lowlands of the Dominican
Republic. We observed them performing their flycatching techniques and showing off
their magnificent emerald-green and bubblegum-pink plumage. A truly splendid creature.
The number two in the Bird of the Trip contest. The favourite bird for Mary and Bernard.
Narrow-billed Tody Todus angustirostris: One of the two species of tody occurring on Hispaniola.
This species prefers the wetter higher altitudes in the sierras. We observed it in the Sierra
de Bahoruco and in the Central Cordillera. Make sure you note where you saw it, as
recent studies indicate that more than one species is likely involved.
Jamaican Tody Todus todus: Regular encounters all over Jamaica. A little tyke full of character.
Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus: Regular observations on Puerto Rico. Its local name is San
Pedrito. This glorious and enchanting stunner of a bird showed well on several occasions.
The five species of very closely related todies (we saw four and the fifth one occurs on
Cuba) comprise a family confined to the Greater Antilles. Their closest relatives are the
Motmots (Momotidae) and especially the Tody Motmot Hylomanes momotula of Central
13 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
America. The Puerto Rican Tody has been well studied and shows some remarkable
characteristics. It has been found to go into torpor in the breeding season, when hormone
stress levels and metabolic rates are significantly higher than at other times. This
phenomenon is restricted to females. The closely-related Cuban Tody is locally known as
Pedorrera, a rather malodorous term referring to the noise made when breaking wind.
This name may relate to the wing-rattling behaviour of the bird. Note that fossil todids are
known from Wyoming and France.
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon: Eight sightings of this northern migrant on Jamaica and Hispaniola.
Antillean Piculet Nesoctites micromegas: Several observations of this peculiar critter in the Sierra de
Bahoruco, but best seen in the hills of the Los Haitises National Park (Dominican
Republic). We all saw the piercing red eye and bright yellow and red crown patch. More
often heard than seen. Another endemic genus to Hispaniola.
Puerto Rican Woodpecker Melanerpes portoricensis: Repeated excellent close up views of this
stunning endemic. A truly great bird!! We saw a couple in action at their nest hole at
Hispaniolan Woodpecker Melanerpes striatus: This jack of all trades is one of the most common
endemics in Hispaniola, occurring even where trees are virtually absent. The smart
“tiger” Woodpecker scored high in the Bird of the Trip contest.
Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus: A commonly encountered endemic all over Jamaica.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius: A single migrant was briefly seen in the woods at
Marshall’s Pen (Jamaica).
Jamaican Elaenia (Yellow-crowned Elaenia) Myiopagis cotta: Knowing its call is crucial to finding
this rather drab-coloured canopy-loving endemic. A couple of nice observations.
Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica: Several close up encounters at Cabo Rojo and at Guanica in
Puerto Rico. Quite widespread.
Hispaniolan Pewee Contopus hispaniolensis: Regular sightings of this Hispaniolan endemic.
Jamaican Pewee Contopus pallidus: A tail-quivering Jamaican endemic, which we observed
beautifully at Marshall’s Pen.
Puerto Rican Pewee Contopus portoricensis: Eye-ball to eye-ball views at Maricao. Numbers seem to
be at their normal levels again, after having dropped due to the last hurricane.
Sad Flycatcher Myiarchus barbirostris: This small, endemic Myiarchus proved to be fairly common in
the higher reaches of Jamaica.
Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Myiarchus validus: This widespread Jamaican endemic is one of the easiest
Myiarchus (a notoriously difficult Neotropical genus of drab-coloured Flycatchers) to
identify. Several splendid encounters.
Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus: Regular in the lowlands of Jamaica and Hispaniola.
Puerto Rican Flycatcher Myiarchus antillarum: Several good sightings of this rather drab endemic. A
Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis: Very common on Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
Loggerhead Kingbird Tyrannus caudifasciatus: Abundant in Jamaica and scarce in the highlands of
Jamaican Becard Pachyramphus niger: Fabulous looks at Marshall’s Pen, in the Blue Mountains and
also in the John Crow Mountains. The distinctive, large and untidy nest of this Jamaican
endemic was also seen.
14 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Caribbean Martin Progne dominicensis: Good views of this Caribbean endemic at several localities
in the Dominican Republic.
Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea: Several of these extremely handsome hirundines were
hawking insects over the pines high up in the Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic).
We also saw them coming in to drink at one of their favourite ponds. This species has
now totally disappeared from Jamaica (no substantiated records for more than 20 years),
making it a Hispaniolan endemic. It is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis: Several were seen in western Jamaica.
Bank Swallow (Sand Martin) Riparia riparia: Four showed briefly over the Black River marshes in
Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva: Regular sightings. Best were the ones living under our
accommodation at Marshall’s Pen (Jamaica).
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica: Just a few sightings of this northern migrant.
Hispaniolan Palm Crow Corvus palmarum: A few showed well on the shores of Lake Enriquillo
(Dominican Republic). This Hispaniolan endemic is classified as Near-Threatened by
BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
White-necked Crow Corvus leucognaphalus: Several, offering excellent views and uttering their
parrot-like squawking calls in the Los Haitises National Park (Dominican Republic). We
also saw the red eyes and the white base to the nape feathers!! This species used to be
common on Puerto Rico, where it became extinct around 1963, making it another
Hispaniolan endemic. It is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Jamaican Crow Corvus jamaicensis: This Jamaican endemic was beautifully observed in the Cockpit
Country. An amazing variety of calls !!!
Rufous-throated Solitaire Myadestes genibarbis: Definitely the songster of the trip. Its lovely songs
created a very special atmosphere in the highland forests of the Blue Mountains (Jamaica)
and in the Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic). One of the most handsome
members of a usually rather drably-attired genus.
White-eyed Thrush Turdus jamaicensis: An attractive, regularly seen highland endemic of Jamaica.
Usually quite shy and retiring.
La Selle Thrush Turdus swalesi: Good, but all too brief scope views of this enigmatic bird just after
dawn in the higher reaches of the Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic). This species
is endemic to the mountains of Hispaniola and is classified as Endangered by BirdLife
International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’. The bird is named after the Massif de La
Selle in southern Haiti, from where it was first described in 1927 by Alexander Wetmore.
It was discovered in the Dominican Republic only in 1971. The scientific name refers to
Bradshaw Swales (1875-1928) US ornithologist and author (Birds of Haiti and the
Dominican Republic, 1931).
White-chinned Thrush Turdus aurantius: ‘Hopping Dick’ is the local name for this widespread
Red-legged Thrush Turdus plumbeus: Regular encounters on Hispaniola and in Puerto Rico. A really
15 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos: Common on all three islands.
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii: Splendid scope views of this localized Caribbean endemic.
A bird with a strange (relict ?) distribution, occurring in the Bahamas, on the northern
Cuban cays and on the Portland Peninsula of southern Jamaica. The scientific epithet
refers to Johannes Gundlach (1810-1896), a German ornithologist who spent a lot of time
in Cuba and was the author of ‘Catalogo de los Aves Cubanas’.
Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus: Regular in all habitats of Puerto Rico. It sure has some
rather nasty habits!!
Palmchat Dulus dominicus: Many excellent encounters with this different-looking species. The
Palmchat was one of the more important birds of the trip for the ‘bird family-hunters’, as
it is the sole member of its family and is restricted to Hispaniola. A bizarre bird, which
constructs huge communal stick-nests, consisting of separate compartments which open
separately to the outside. Some of the older nests are up to two metres in width!! These
noisy, garrulous and very sociable birds are mainly fruit and berry eaters. They favour
areas where Royal Palms (Roystonea hispaniolana) occur and seem to be most closely
related to waxwings and silky-flycatchers. The Palmchat is the national bird of the
Dominican Republic. Richard’s favourite.
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris: Just a few observations of this introduced species in Jamaica.
Jamaican Vireo (Jamaican White-eyed Vireo) Vireo modestus: One of the more widespread Jamaican
Puerto Rican Vireo Vireo latimeri: A couple showed well in the Maricao National Forest. Its numbers
have dropped significantly lately, causing concern and the main culprit seems to be the
parasitic Shiny Cowbird.
Flat-billed Vireo Vireo nanus: Great close up looks at a confiding individual in the Sierra de
Bahoruco (Dominican Republic). A Hispaniolan endemic.
Blue Mountain Vireo Vireo osburni: A strange and atypical Vireo, which we observed in the Blue
Mountains (of course) in Jamaica. At one time it was put in the separate genus Laletes,
amongst others because of its hefty bill-size, reminding one more of shrike-vireos or
peppershrikes. It is classified as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened
Birds of the World’.
Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus: One of the most common passerines on all three islands. A
highly distinctive song!
Northern Parula Parula americana: Many observations of this delightful little jewel.
Golden Warbler Dendroica petechia: Great looks in southern Jamaica and in the mangroves of
southern Puerto Rico. All the birds seen seemed to be of the resident form, which is now
usually considered a separate species from the North American Yellow Warbler
Dendroica aestiva, which occurs as a migrant.
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia: A single bird showed briefly in the lower reaches of the
Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic).
Cape May Warbler Dendroica tigrina: Regular observations of these extremely handsome creatures
in the dry scrub of the lower slopes of the Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic).
16 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Black-throated Blue Warbler Dendroica caerulescens: Regular at higher altitudes in Jamaica,
Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The males are really exquisite.
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata: A handful of sightings of the eastern form (Myrtle
Adelaide’s Warbler Dendroica adelaidae: A delightful and fairly common resident of the dry scrub of
southern Puerto Rico. This species is named after Adelaide Swift, daughter of US
financier R. Swift. This is now also a Puerto Rican endemic since the splitting off of Santa
Lucia Warbler D. delicata and Barbuda Warbler D. subita.
Pine Warbler Dendroica pinus: A regular resident in the pines of the higher reaches of the Sierra de
Bahoruco (Dominican Republic).
Prairie Warbler Dendroica discolor: Regular observations of this lovely species on all three islands.
Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum: Several of these tail waggers were seen on Jamaica and on
Arrow-headed Warbler Dendroica pharetra: Regular observations of this elegant Jamaican endemic
at Marshall’s Pen and the Hardwar Gap.
Elfin Woods Warbler Dendroica angelae: This attractive warbler is usually one of the harder to find
Puerto Rican endemics. But it only took a short time this year before we all had smashing
close up views of this little gem at Maricao. The species was discovered only in 1972 in
the Luquillo Mountains. The total population is probably no more than 300 pairs. This
species is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia: One of the more common North American migrant
warblers and always a delight to observe it doing its creeper-like thing.
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla: Regular, including some adorable males.
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapillus: Just a few sightings of this attractive species.
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis: Half a dozen lovely observations.
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas: A few observations on Jamaica.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola: A very common species throughout the three islands. The race on
Jamaica (flaveola) looks quite different because of its black throat. The other races seen
on the tour were bananivora (Hispaniola) and portoricensis (Puerto Rico).
Jamaican Euphonia Euphonia jamaica: Many great views of this modestly-attired Jamaican endemic.
Antillean Euphonia Euphonia musica: Several excellent sightings on Hispaniola and on Puerto Rico.
Mistletoes provide the staple food for this very attractive species.
Jamaican Stripe-headed Tanager (Jamaican Spindalis) Spindalis nigricephalus: A regularly
encountered and extremely handsome species of most habitats of Jamaica. The AOU has
recently suggested the use of the name Spindalis for the members of this group.
Hispaniolan Stripe-headed Tanager (Hispaniolan Spindalis) Spindalis dominicensis: Regular excellent
Puerto Rican Stripe-headed Tanager (Puerto Rican Spindalis) Spindalis portoricensis: Regular
Black-crowned Palm Tanager Phaenicophilus palmarum: A fairly common Hispaniolan endemic. Its
local name is cuatro ojos (four-eyes), which refers to the white spots in front of the eyes,
making them look as if they are in possession of an extra pair of eyes. The closely related
Grey-crowned Palm Tanager is virtually confined to Haiti, although there seem to be
several (not substantiated) records for the Sierra de Bahoruco in the Dominican Republic.
17 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Green-tailed Ground Tanager Microligea palustris: A Hispaniolan endemic, which we found high up
in the Sierra de Bahoruco. Recent genetic research indicates that this bird is in fact a
tanager and not a member of the Parulid family. It used to be called Green-tailed Ground
Warbler. Many great looks.
Hispaniolan Highland Tanager Xenoligea montana: Another Hispaniolan endemic, which we
observed together with previous species. Great studies. This attractive bird was formerly
called White-winged Warbler, but it has now been proven that it is in fact a tanager,
closely related to the genus Phaenicophilus. It is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife
International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Western Chat Tanager Calyptophilus tertius: A couple of splendid encounters with this Hispaniolan
endemic high up in the Sierra de Bahoruco. Others were heard. This usually devilishly
difficult to see species played hard to get at first, but later showed itself amazingly well
and behaved impeccably. It is classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International in
‘Threatened Birds of the World’. The closely related Eastern Chat Tanager Calyptophilus
frugivorus, which is restricted to the highlands of the central Dominican Republic eluded
us totally on this trip and was the only single island endemic that remained unrecorded
on this year’s tour.
Puerto Rican Tanager Nesospingus speculiferus: Regular in the highlands of that island and another
endemic. It is much more attractive than the field guide suggests. The genus Nesospingus
is endemic to the Caribbean.
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea: Regular observations on all three islands.
Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor: Regular records from all three islands.
Yellow-shouldered Grassquit Loxipasser anoxanthus: Yet another exquisite Jamaican endemic and an
endemic genus at that. Great looks at this lovely species in the Cockpit Country and in
the John Crow Mountains.
Puerto Rican Bullfinch Loxigilla portoricensis: A common endemic with an attractive song. Many
Greater Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla violacea: Regularly encountered on Hispaniola and Jamaica.
Orangequit Euneornis campestris: A Jamaican endemic, which we saw everywhere on our travels on
the island. Another endemic Caribbean genus. Its name is derived from its fondness for
this particular fruit and ‘quit’ stands for a small bird.
Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum: Good views of this widespread species in some
rough grassland near Mandeville (Jamaica).
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis: Our only real reward for visiting the Cordillera
Central of the Dominican Republic.
Yellow-shouldered Blackbird Agelaius xanthomus: Great looks at ten near the mangroves of La
Parguera village (Puerto Rico). This endemic is one of the most threatened West Indian
species, because of the brood-parasitic behaviour of the fairly recently arrived (1940s)
and now common Shiny Cowbird. A major conservation program is now in action,
mainly concentrating on getting rid of the Shiny Cowbirds. The total population of the
Yellow-shouldered Blackbird now stands at c1250 individuals. This species is classified
as Endangered by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Jamaican Blackbird Nesopsar nigerrimus: This Jamaican endemic is a solitary bromeliad specialist.
We were, eventually, able to scope it whilst preening itself in the Blue Mountains. It is
classified as Endangered by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World‘ and
is the most threatened member of the Jamaican avifauna.
Greater Antillean Grackle Quiscalus niger: One of the most common birds in the Greater Antilles.
Shiny Cowbird (Glossy Cowbird) Molothrus bonariensis: Regular, alas.
18 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007
Hispaniolan Oriole Icterus dominicensis: Several observations of this recently created endemic on
Hispaniola. The Greater Antillean Oriole Icterus dominicensis has now been split into
four species: Hispaniolan Oriole Icterus dominicensis, Puerto Rican Oriole Icterus
portoricensis, Bahama Oriole Icterus northropi and Cuban Oriole Icterus melanopsis.
Puerto Rican Oriole Icterus portoricensis: Several smashing observations. The most recent Puerto
Venezuelan Troupial Icterus icterus: Several in the Guanica reserve. Attractive!! Orange-backed
Troupial Icterus croconotus (Colombia to northern Argentina) and Campo Troupial
Icterus jamacaii (eastern Brazil) are now usually considered separate species.
Jamaican Oriole Icterus leucopteryx: A lovely species, that seems to specialize in probing bark for
invertebrates. It is not a real endemic as it also occurs on San Andres, a small island off
the Nicaraguan coast, but it has probably been introduced there. It also used to occur on
the Caiman Islands, but has not been recorded from there since 1967.
Hispaniolan Crossbill Loxia megaplaga: Rather brief looks only of several in the pine zone of the
Sierra de Bahoruco. This is now a Hispaniolan endemic that is classified as Endangered
by BirdLife International in ‘Threatened Birds of the World’.
Antillean Siskin Carduelis dominicensis: Prolonged scope studies of a single male of this magnificent
Hispaniolan endemic in the Sierra de Bahoruco (Dominican Republic). A real cutie.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus: A few on Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus: A single bird on the shore of Lago Enriquillo (Dominican
Republic). An introduced species.
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura: We found a male in non-breeding plumage at La Parguera
(Puerto Rico). Obviously an introduced species. A new bird for this tour.
Small Indian Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus: A beautiful, but nasty little mammal that was
originally introduced to keep the snake and rat populations down, but a lot of the
ground-nesting species have suffered greatly because of its other predilections. We saw
several on Jamaica.
We also saw several unidentified rats.
American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus: Good looks at a real big one in a pond in south-western
Green Iguana Iguana iguana: A few on Puerto Rico.
19 Birdquest: Jamaica, Hispaniola & Puerto Rico 2007