Land Birds

 

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LAND BIRDS

This section contains a wide variety of birds, including birds of prey, pigeons and doves, humming­birds, flycatchers, thrashers, warblers and finches. Notice that there are no parrots or woodpeckers on the island.
Some of these birds are restricted to a particular area or habitat, whereas others may be seen virtually anywhere on the island. Most are resident, although a few either pass through on migration, or visit for the summer or winter. A number are very well-known, as they are common around inhabited areas; some will even enter houses, for food or to nest.
A number of the common smaller birds may be referred to locally as ‘Chitty Birds’ or ‘Chi-chi birds’ (for example the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Bananaquit and Black-faced Grassquit).

(Click here for a Check List of Nevis Birds :97Kb PDF)

 

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

 

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
Local Names: Chicken Hawk, Fowl Hawk.
Status: A fairly common resident of Nevis.
Description: 18-24”. A large hawk, brown above and mostly whitish below. The tail of adult birds is reddish-brown. Voice: A high-pitched scream: ‘screeah’.
Behaviour: Usually seen soaring, singly or sometimes in pairs. Occasionally seen perched on top of a tree or ruin.
Where to find it: Can be seen in flight virtually any­where on Nevis, but seems to prefer drier areas.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
Local Name: Killy-killy.
Status: A fairly common resident.
Description: 9-12”. A small falcon, with a reddish-brown back and tail, and distinctive black and white markings on the head.Voice: A high-pitched ‘killy-kil­ly-killy’. Behaviour: Hovers while searching for food, which consists mostly of insects and lizards. Perches on posts and in trees - will sometimes permit a very close approach before flying off.
Where to find it: Can be seen virtually anywhere apart from the rainforest, but prefers drier, more open areas.

ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)
Local names: Wood Dove, Mountain Dove.
Status: A very common resident. Description: 11-12”. A medium-sized dove, brown above and orange-brown below. It has purple patches on the sides of its head, and black spots on the wings. Very noticeable in flight is the white band at the end of the tail.
Voice: A mournful ‘cooa-cu-cu’. Sometimes calls after dark. Behaviour: Perches on wires, trees and houses. When disturbed, flies off with much clapping of wings the sound often heard in the rainforest at lower eleva­tions.
Where to find it: Anywhere on the island, except high in the rainforest. It is very common around human habitation.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)
Local name: Grounie.
Status: A very common resident. Description: 6-7”. A very small dove, grey above, with pink feet. Easily identified by the large orange-brown patches on the wings, which are very prominent in flight.
Behaviour: Very tame. Usually seen on the ground, alone or in small groups. Runs away when approached, taking short flights only when necessary.
Where to find it: Mainly in lowland, dry areas - com­mon around human habitation.

BRIDLED QUAIL DOVE (Geotrygon mystacea)
Local name: Partridge.
Status: A resident of Nevis - not often seen, as it lives high in the rainforest. Description: 12”. A medium-sized dove, mainly brown above, and orange-brown below. The most striking markings are the broad white stripes below each eye; the throat is also white. The wings are mainly reddish-brown, which is noticeable in flight. Voice: A long, doleful note, sounding like a distant fog-horn. Behaviour: In contrast to the Red-necked Pigeon, does not fly off in panic at the first sign of danger, so if spotted can be observed at leisure.
Where to find it: In the rainforest, where it is quite often heard, but seldom seen.

Green-Throated Carib (Sericotes holosericeus)
Status: A fairly common resident. Description: 4.75”. A medium-sized hummingbird, mainly green, although it can appear almost black in certain lighting condi­tions. The wings are dark, and the tail bluish. There is a pale blue patch on the breast - this can normally only be seen when the bird is perched in good light. The bill is curved downwards. Behaviour: Hovers at blos­soms, flying off abruptly and very fast. Sometimes seen perching.
Where to find it: Virtually anywhere on the island, except the drier areas. Gardens with flowers are a good place to look.

ANTILLEAN CRESTED HUMMINGBIRD (Ortho­rhynchus cristatus)
Status: A common resident. Description: 3.5”. A small hummingbird - in fact the smallest bird found on Nevis. It is mainly green, with a short straight bill. The male has an iridescent green crest, which is very strik­ing when it catches the light. The female has no crest, and is duller, with underparts off-white.
Voice: A series of staccato notes: ‘tip-tip-tip’, at various speeds. Behaviour: As for the previous species, with the flight even more bee-like.
Where to find it: More widespread than the previous species -Have been seen at sea level and on the summit of Nevis Peak!

GREY KINGBIRD (Tyrannnus dominicensis)
Local Name: Piritata.
Status: A very common resident - perhaps the best-known bird on Nevis. Description: 9.25”. A quite large flycatcher, grey above, white below, with a broad black stripe through each eye. The bill is black and fairly heavy. Voice: A loud, trilled ‘pitirrrri’.
Behaviour: Perches openly on wires, posts and branch­es. Makes acrobatic swoops after the large insects on which it feeds, often returning to the same perch. It is aggressive, and can sometimes be seen chasing other birds - even the Red-tailed Hawk!
Where to find it: Anywhere on Nevis, from the coast to the top of the mountain. Common around human habitation.

STOLID FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus stolidus)
Local name: Loggerhead.
Description: 7.5-8.5”. A medium sized flycatcher, with grey-brown upperparts. The breast is whitish, and the rear underparts pale yellow. There are reddish-brown markings on the wings and tail, those on the tail being most noticeable in flight. The bill is black and fairly heavy, with short ‘bristles’ at its base visible at close range. Behaviour: Shyer than the Grey Kingbird. Always seen in trees, normally alone.
Where to find it: In woodland, usually above 1000 feet. Easy to overlook.

CARIBBEAN ELAENIA (Elaenia martinica)
Local name: Pea Whistler.
Status: A common resident. Description: 7”. A fairly small, plain flycatcher. Dull brown above, paler below. It has a small crest, and a white crown-stripe which is occasionally seen when the crest is raised. The bill is shorter and slighter than that of the previous species, and the lower mandible is partly orange, although this is not normally seen. There are two whitish wingbars, which are useful in identification. Voice: This is even more useful in identification - a characteristic ‘pee-oo-it’. Behaviour: More often heard than seen, as it tends to choose an inconspicuous perch from which to call. It is always seen in trees or bushes, and often holds its wings ‘drooped’ below their normal position.
Where to find it: Widespread, from acacia-scrub to rainforest - but most common in drier areas. Listen out for the call.

Photo Needed

SCALY-BREASTED THRASHER (Margarops fuscus)
Status: A fairly common resident. Description: 9”. A dark brown thrush-like bird. It has whitish underparts heavily patterned with brown, and the tips of the tail feathers and a fine wingbar are white. The bill is black and the iris yellow - these features together with its smaller size and different call distinguish it from the similar Pearly-eyed Thrasher. Voice: A variety of notes, including some very high-pitched whistles. Most vocal at dusk. Behaviour: A shy, skulking bird
Where to find it: In trees virtually anywhere on the island.

Photo Needed

PEARLY-EYED THRASHER (Margarops fuscatus)
Local names: Mango Bird, Soursop Bird.
Status: A common resident. Description: 11”. Similar to the previous species, but larger, with a white iris and a large pinkish bill. The white wingbar is absent, and the brown markings on the underparts are less heavy.
Voice: A wide variety of calls, some loud and raucous, others more tuneful. Sometimes sings at night when there is a full moon. Behaviour: Somewhat less shy than the previous species, but also tends to stick to dense cover. Can occasionally be seen eating fruit such as mango or soursop.
Where to find it: Wherever there are trees, including near human habitation and at fairly high altitudes in the rainforest.

TREMBLER (Cinclocerthia ruficanda)
Status: A resident of Nevis - confined to the rainforest.
Description: 9-10”. A dark brown thrasher, paler be­low. The tail is reddish-brown, and the bill is long and downcurved. It can be easily identified by its habits. Behaviour: Very distinctive - it almost continuously ‘trembles’ its wings, and often cocks its tail. It is not particularly wary, and can be approached quite closely.
Where to find it: Only in the rainforest. Often seen on the walk to the Source.

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus)
Status: A fairly common summer visitor - can be seen in most months of the year. Description: 6.5”. A small nondescript bird. It is dull green above, pale below, with a whitish stripe above the eye, and a dark stripe (the ‘whisker’) below the eye. The feathers under the base of the tail are pale yellow. The bill is heavier than that of a warbler. Voice: A loud, rich ‘cheeo, cheeo, cheeo’, repeated over and over. Also a harsh, rapid ‘ka-ka-ka-ka’. Behaviour: Found in trees, often in small groups. It usually keeps to the highest branches, mov­ing about unobtrusively.
Where to find it: In woodland, from the coast to the rainforest. Difficult to observe without getting a stiff neck!

YELLOW WARBLER (Dendroica petechia)
Local names: Canary, Yellow Bird.
Status: A fairly common resident. Description: 5.5”. A small, attractive bird, easily identified by its bright yellow plumage. On closer inspection, the male is seen to have rich brown streaks on its head and chest. The female is more green above, and generally less bright than the male. Voice: Very distinctive - a pleasant, tinkling ‘wichoo-wichoo-wichoo’. Behaviour: Moves about unobtrusively in undergrowth - even when sing­ing can be difficult to spot.
Where to find it: In woodland, usually near the coast in the vicinity of mangroves, but also at higher altitudes on occasion. The trees behind the north end of White Bay are a good place to look.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)
Local names: Yellowbreast, Banana Bird.
Status: A very common resident. Description: 4-5”. A small bird, black above and yellow below, with a conspicuous white line above the eye. The bill is down­curved, and when it is open the inside of the mouth is seen to be bright red. Voice: A wheezing song; also a simple ‘chip, chip’. Behaviour: A lively bird, usually seen in trees, where it feeds on nectar, fruit and insects. It is not shy, and will occasionally come inside houses.
Where to find it: Extremely widespread

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris)
Local name: Black Bird.
Status: Fairly common in a restricted range It prob­ably arrived on Nevis during the past 40 years or so.
Description: 9.5-11”. Completely black, with a purple gloss visible in some lights. The bill is sharp, and the iris white. Young birds are a dull brown, with a pale throat. Voice: A variety of harsh squawks, squeaks and whistles. Behaviour: Found on the ground and in trees, often in small flocks. Does not stray far from hu­man habitation.
Where to find it: Now found all over the South part of Nevis-Ramsbury, Jessups, Stoney Grove, Gingerland.
Status: A fairly common resident of Nevis

LESSER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Loxigilla noctis)
Local name: West Indian Robin.
Status: A very common resident. Description: 5.5-6”. A fairly small finch. The male is entirely black, apart from its throat, and the feathers under the base of the tail (undertail coverts), which are dark red. The female is dull brown above, paler below, with rich brown under­tail coverts and wing markings. Voice: A shrill ‘whi-whi-whi-whi’, and other calls. Behaviour: Certainly the cheekiest bird on Nevis! It will take food (crumbs or sugar) from outdoor tables, and often comes inside houses .
Where to find it: Virtually anywhere on the island, especially in woodland and around houses. Found high in the rainforest.

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor)
Status: A very common resident. Description: 4.5”. A very small, nondescript finch. The male is dull green above, with a black face and breast. The female has the black replaced by off-white. Voice: A buzzing ‘tip-tip-chiii iiii’. Behaviour: Unobtrusive, so easy to overlook - however, they are not shy. Usually seen near the ground, often perched on grass-stems, eating the seeds.
Where to find it: Virtually anywhere apart from the rainforest, especially around human habitation, and in drier, open country.

RED-NECKED PIGEON (Columba squamosa)
Status: A resident of Nevis, probably fairly common, but not often seen outside the rainforest.
Description: 15”. A large dark grey pigeon, with a pur­ple neck. Behaviour: A very wary bird, usually staying in the treetops. Flies off noisily when disturbed, and is more often glimpsed than seen clearly.
Where to find it: In the rainforest, although occasionally seen in flight at lower elevations. You can expect to see hundreds of Zenaida Doves for each Red-necked Pigeon!

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
Status: A fairly common winter visitor.
Description: 6-7.5”. Dark blue above, whitish below, with a red throat. Most birds seen on Nevis are imma­ture, so their tail is not deeply forked as in the adult, and has white spots at its base. Behaviour: Normally seen in small flocks, feeding on insects with a graceful, swooping flight. Occasionally seen resting on wires.
Where to find it: Widespread at lower elevations, often over open country.


OTHER LANDBIRDS

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
White-crowned Pigeon (Columba leucocephala)
Burrowing Owl (Speotyto cunicularia)
Common Nighthawk (Choreiles minor)
Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)
Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis)
Purple Martin (Progne subis)
Northern Parula (Parula americana) (1989 ed. identi­fies as Parula Warbler)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilla varia)
Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina) In al plum­ages
Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia)
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
Kentucky Warbler (Oporonis formosus)
Northern Waterthrush (Seirurus noveboracensis)
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)
Summer Tanger (Piranga rubra)


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