Sea Birds

 

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SEABIRDS

 

You are never far from the sea on Nevis, and seabirds such as the Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Pelican are some of the most spectacular to be found on the island. A number of these birds, for example the Brown Pelican and Royal Tern, feed by plunging into the water to catch fish, which can be most entertaining to watch - especially the Pelicans, which perform remarkably close to shore.

Most seabirds do not nest on Nevis (the Least Tern is an exception), presumably due to the scarcity of suitable sites.

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

 

(click on the photos to enlarge)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelicanus occidentalis)

Local Name: Booby

Status: Common on Nevis throughout the year. This is the national bird of St.Kitts-Nevis.Description: 44-55”. Mostly dark brown, head yellowish-white and a stripe down the neck white. Young birds are brown above and whitish below. The bill is large, with a throat pouch below for storing fish. Behavior: Flies with the head drawn back onto the shoulders. Makes spectacular plunges into the sea for fish, sometimes in very shallow water. Seen alone or in small flocks.

Where to find it: Around the coast

BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)

Status: Found on Nevis in small numbers throughout the year. Breeding status unknown. Description: 28-30”. Mostly dark brown, with breast, abdomen, and part of underwings white. The bill and feet are pale yel­low. Young birds are brown all over, with a white bill. Behaviour: Almost always seen in flight, with neck extended.

Where to find it: Around the Leeward coast. Fort Charles is a good place - but count yourself lucky if you see one.

LAUGHING GULL (Larus atricilla)

Status: Common from April to December, but rarely seen during the first three months of the year. Breeding status unknown. Description: 19”. White below, grey above, with black wing-tips. The head is black from April to August, but at other times is white, with faint black markings. Immature birds are greyish-brown, with a white rump. Voice: A loud harsh cry, said to resemble laughter. Behaviour: Usually seen in flight, sometimes in flocks. Dives into the sea for fish and other food.

Where to find it: Around the coast. Try Charlestown jetty.

MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregeta magnificens)

Local name: Man-o-war bird.

Status: Fairly common throughout the year. Barbuda is probably the nearest breeding site. Description: 38-41”. A very long-winged seabird, with a deeply forked tail, which often appears pointed. The male is black, with an inflatable orange throat-pouch (red in the breeding season). The female is black with a white breast, while young birds have the entire head and under parts white. Behaviour: Always seen in flight, often soaring high above the sea, looking somewhat like a large bird of prey. Sometimes swoops down to pick food from the surface of the water. Usually seen alone or in small groups, but occasionally dozens can be seen soaring together.

Where to find it: Around the coast. Again, Fort Charles is a good spot.

LEAST TERN (Sterna albifrons)

Status: A visitor, found in small numbers from May to September. Breeds on Nevis. Description: 9”. A very small seabird. Grey above, white below, with a black crown and white forehead. The bill is yellow with a black tip, and the legs are yellow. Young birds have a black bill.

Voice: A sharp ‘kik-kik’, a rasping ‘chizeek’, and other calls. Very noisy around the nesting area

Behaviour: Flies quickly with fast wing beats - also hovers butterfly-like above the water.

Where to find it: The northern end of the beach at White Bay - but be careful!

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Status: Common on Nevis in winter - found in small numbers at other times. Does not breed here.

Description: 20”. A large tern, grey above, white below, with a black crown and shaggy crest. The legs are also black, and the large bill is orange. In winter the front of the crown becomes white. Voice: A loud, gutteral ‘kkerr’. Behaviour: Usually seen singly or in small groups, flying over the sea, into which it dives for fish. Also sometimes seen standing on a beach.

Where to find it: Around the coast, for example off Fort Charles.

 

Other Seabirds Found Around Nevis

 

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

 


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