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)
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.
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.
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.
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
Behaviour: Very tame. Usually seen on the ground, alone or in small
groups. Runs away when approached, taking short flights only when
Where to find it: Mainly in lowland, dry areas - common around
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
Where to find it: In the rainforest, where it is quite often heard,
but seldom seen.
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.
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
Where to find it: More widespread than the previous species -Have
been seen at sea level and on the summit of Nevis Peak!
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.
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
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.
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.
THRASHER (Margarops fuscatus)
Local names: Mango 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.
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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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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