OF THE WEST INDIES
JAMES BOND, B.A. (CAMBRIDGE)
RESEARCH ASSOCIATE IN VERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY OF THE
ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES OF PHILADELPHIA
3. 1 6 (,./
AN ACCOUNT WITH FULL DESCRIPTIONS OF
ALL THE BIRDS KNOWN TO OCCUR OR
TO HAVE OCCURRED ON THE
WEST INDIAN ISLANDS
THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
arston Science Library
Printed in United States of America
COMPOSED AND PRINTED AT THE
WAVERLY PRESS, INC.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, U. S. A.
To my many West Indian friends
this book is affectionately dedicated
Introduction .................. .............................. xiii
I. Order Colymbiformes: Grebes
1. Family Colymbidae: Grebes..................... 1
II. Order Procellariiformes: Tube-nosed Swimmers
2. Family Procellariidae: Shearwaters, Fulmars, and
Petrels ....................................... 3
3. Family Hydrobatidae: Storm-Petrels ............. 7
III. Order Pelecaniformes: Totipalmate Swimmers
4. Family Phaethontidae: Tropic-birds .............. 8
5. Family Pelecanidae: Pelicans..................... 10
6. Family Sulidae: Boobies and Gannets............ 12
7. Family Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants........... 14
8. Family Anhingidae: Snake-birds or Darters...... 16
9. Family Fregatidae: Frigate Birds ................ 17
IV. Order Ciconiiformes: Herons, Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills,
10. Family Ardeidae: Herons and Bitterns........... 19
11. Family Ciconiidae: Storks ....................... 30
12. Family Threskiornithidae: Ibises................. 32
13. Family Plataleidae: Spoonbills.................. 34
14. Family Phoenicopteridae: Flamingoes ............ 36
V. Order Anseriformes:
15. Family Anatidae: Swans, Geese, and Ducks...... 37
VI. Order Falconiformes: Vultures, Hawks, and Falcons
16. Family Cathartidae: American Vultures.......... 59
17. Family Falconidae: Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons.. 61
VII. Order Galliformes: Gallinaceous Birds
18. Family Perdicidae: Quail and Partridges.......... 80
VIII. Order Gruiformes: Cranes, Rails, and Allies
19. Family Gruidae: Cranes. ....................... 82
20. Family Aramidae: Limpkins..................... 84
21. Family Rallidae: Rails, Gallinules, and Coots.... 85
IX. Order Charadriiformes: Shore-birds, Gulls, Auks, etc.
22. Family Jacanidae: Jacanas. ...................... 97
23. Family Haematopodidae: Oyster-catchers ......... 99
24. Family Charadriidae: Plovers, Turnstones, and
Surf-birds........................ .... ...... 100
25. Family Scolopacidae: Sandpipers, Snipe, and
Woodcock ..................................... 109
26. Family Recurvirostridae: Avocets and Stilts...... 125
27. Family Burhinidae: Thick-knees................. 127
28. Family Stercorariidae: Skuas and Jaegers........ 129
29. Family Laridae: Gulls and Terns................ 130
30. Family Rynchopidae: Skimmers ................ 143
31. Family Alcidae: Auks, Guillemots and Puffins.... 144
X. Order Columbiformes: Pigeons, Sand Grouse, etc.
32. Family Columbidae: Pigeons and Doves.......... 145
XI. Order Psittaciformes: Parrots, Macaws, Cockatoos, Lor-
33. Family Psittacidae: Parrots, Macaws and Paro-
quets............................... .......... 161
XII. Order Cuculiformes: Cuckoos and Allies
34. Family Cuculidae: Cuckoos and Anis............. 170
XIII. Order Strigiformes: Owls
35. Family Tytonidae: Barn and Grass Owls......... 178
36. Family Strigidae: Typical Owls .................. 181
XIV. Order Caprimulgiforms: Nightjars, Potoos, Oilbirds
37. Family Nyctibiidae: Potoos .................... 190
38. Family Caprimulgidae: Nightjars .............. 192
XV. Order Micropodiformes: Swifts and Hummingbirds
39. Family Micropodidae: Swifts..................... 198
40. Family Trochilidae: Hummingbirds ............. 204
XVI. Order Trogoniformes: Trogons
41. Family Trogonidae: Trogons.................... 220
XVII. Order Coraciiformes: Kingfishers, Todies, Motmots,
Rollers, Hornbills, etc.
42. Family Alcedinidae: Kingfishers................. 223
43. Family Todidae: Todies. ........................ 226
XVIII. Order Piciformes: Woodpeckers, Toucans, etc.
44. Family Picidae: Woodpeckers and Piculets....... 228
XIX. Order Passeriformes: Perching Birds
45. Family Tyrannidae: Tyrant Flycatchers......... 241
46. Family Cotingidae: Cotingas ..................... 259
47. Family Hirundinidae: Swallows.................. 260
48. Family Corvidae: Crows, Magpies, and Jays...... 267
49. Family Sittidae: Nuthatches..................... 270
50. Family Troglodytidae: Wrens..................... 272
51. Family Mimidae: Thrashers..................... 274
52. Family Turdidae: Thrushes ...................... 282
53. Family Sylviidae: Old-World Warblers, Gnatcatch-
ers, etc................................... 295
54. Family Bombycillidae: Waxwings ................ 297
55. Family Dulidae: Palm Chats.................... 298
56. Family Laniidae: Shrikes........................ 300
57. Family Vireonidae: Vireos...................... 300
58. Family Coerebidae: Honey-creepers.............. 307
59. Family Compsothlypidae: Wood Warblers......... 312
60. Family Icteridae: Troupials .................... 349
61. Family Thraupidae: Tanagers.................... 365
62. Family Fringillidae: Finches .................... 378
Introduced Species ...................... ...................... 402
Systematic List of West Indian Birds....................... 411
Index of Common Names. ..................................... 435
Index of Local Names ........................ ............ 442
1. Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor)..................Frontispiece
2. Diagram of Bird...................................... xxv
3. Least Grebe (Colymbus d. dominicus) .................... 2
4. Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus p. podiceps)................ 3
5. Audubon's Shearwater (Puffinus 1. lherminieri) ........... 5
6. Head of Black-Capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)........ 5
7. Yellow-billed Tropic-bird (Pha thon 1. catesbyi) ........... 9
8. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus o. occidentalis). ................ 11
9. Brown Booby (Sula 1. leucogaster) ........................ 13
10. Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax a. auritus)..... 15
11. American Snake Bird (Anhinga anhinga) ................. 16
12. Frigate Bird (Fregata m. magnificens) .................... 18
13. Great Blue Heron (Ardea h. herodias) .................... 20
14. Louisiana Heron (Hydranassa t. ruficollis) ................ 23
15. Little Green Heron (Butorides v. maculatus). ............. 25
16. Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa v. violacea) ..... 27
17. Least Bittern (Ixobrychus e. exilis). ....................... 29
18. Wood Ibis (Mycteria americana)......................... 31
19. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis f. falcinellus) ....................... 32
20. White Ibis (Guara alba) ............ ................ 34
21. Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) ......................... 35
22. Roseate Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)................. 37
23. West Indian Tree Duck (Dendrocygna arborea)............ 39
24. Bahaman Pintail (Dafila b. bahamensis).................. 40
25. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) ........................ ...... 42
26. Masked Duck (Oxyura dominica) ........................ 43
27. Pintail (Dafila a. tzitzihoa) .................. ... ......... 51
28. Blue-winged Teal (Querguedula discors)................... 53
29. Lesser Scaup (Nyroca affinis).............................. 57
30. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes a. aura) ...................... 60
31. Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter s. fringilloides) ........... 62
32. Ridgway's Hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) ........................ 65
33. Cuban Crab Hawk (Buteogallus gundlachi) ............... 68
34. Cuban Snail Hawk (Chondrohierax wilsoni) .............. 70
35. Everglade Kite (Rostrhamus s. levis)..................... 71
36. Northern Caracara (Polyborus c. auduboni)............... 74
37. Sparrow Hawk (Falco s. dominicensis) ................... 75
38. Bob-White (Colinus v. cubanensis)....................... 81
39. Sandhill Crane (Grus c. nesiotes) ........................ 83
40. Limpkin (Aramus s. pictus) ................. ........... 81
41. King Rail (Rallus e. ramsdeni) .......................... 86
42. Spotted Rail (Pardirallus m. inoptatus)................... SS
43. Zapata Rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai)................... ..... 89
44. Little Yellow Rail (Porzana f. gossei) .................... 91
45. Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea) ........................ 91
46. Central American Jacana (Jacana s. violacea) ............. OS
47. Oyster-catcher (Haematopus o. palliatus) ................. 100
48. Wilson's Plover (Charadrius w. wilsonia) ................. 102
49. Killdeer (Oxyechus v. rubidus) ................ ........... 101
50. Willet (Catoptrophorus s. semipalmatus) .................. 110
51. Wilson's Snipe (Capella delicate) ......................... 112
52. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) ................... 114
53. Lesser Yellow-legs (Totanus flavipes). ..................... 116
54. Least Sandpiper (Pisobia minutilla) ...................... 118
55. Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus h. mexicanus)........... 126
56. Hispaniolan Thick-knee (Burhinus dominicensis).......... 12S
57. Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) ................ 129
58. Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) .............. .......... 131
59. Bridled Tern (Sterna a. melanoptera). .................... 131
60. Royal Tern (Thalasseus m. maximnus)...................... 137
61. Common Noddy (Anoiis s. stolidus) ...................... 139
62. Head of White-crowned Pigeon (Columbia leucocephala)... 145
63. White-winged Dove (Zenaida a. asiatica) ................ 149
64. Ground Dove (Columbigallina p. bahamensis)............. 153
65. Head of Jamaican White-bellied Dove (Leptotila j. jamaicen-
sis) .......................... ................ .......... 154
66. Crested Quail-Dove (Geotrygon versicolor) ................ 156
67. Key West Quail-Dove (Oreopeleia chrysia) ................ 15S
68. Head of Blue-headed Quail-Dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala). 160
69. Head of Imperial Parrot (Amazona imperialis) ........... 162
70. Head of Cuban Paroquet (Aratinga euops) ................ 13
71. Head of Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus m. nesiotes)......... 170
72. Head of Rufous-breasted Cuckoo (Hyetornis rufigularis).... 172
73. Head of Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo (Saurothera rieilloti).. 174
74. Head of Ani (Crotophaga ani) ............................ 177
75. Hispaniolan Barn Owl (Tyto glaucops)..................... 179
76. Cuban Bare-legged Owl (Gymnasio lawrencei)............. 182
77. Cuban Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium siju) ..................... 183
78. Burrowing Owl (Speotyto c. floridana) ..................... 185
79. Devil Owl (Asio s. siguapa) ............. ..... ..-... 186
80. Jamaican Owl (Pseudoscops grammicus) .................. 188
81. Grey Potoo (Nyctibius g. abbotti) ......................... 191
82. Least Pauraque (Siphonorhis brewsteri) .................. 195
83. Nighthawk (Chordeiles m. gundlachi) ..................... 196
84. Cloud Swift (Streptoprocne z. albicincta) .................. 201
85. Palm Swift (Tachornis phoenicobia) ...................... 202
86. Garnet-throated Hummingbird (Eulampis jugularis) ...... 210
87. Red-billed Streamer-tail (Aithurus polytmus) ............ 213
88. Bee Hummingbird (Calypte helenae) ..................... 216
89. Lesser Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus c.
cristatus): ................................. .......... 218
90. Hispaniolan Trogon (Temnotrogon roseigaster) ............ 221
91. Cuban Trogon (Priotelus temnurus) ...................... 222
92. Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle c. stictipennis)............ 224
93. Fernandina's Woodpecker (Nesoceleus fernandinae)......... 230
94. Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis)...... 231
95. Hispaniolan Woodpecker (Centurus striatus) .............. 233
96. Cuban Green Woodpecker (Xiphidiopicus p. percussus). .. 237
97. Hispaniolan Piculet (Nesoctites m. micromegas) ........... 239
98. Head of Grey Kingbird (Tyrannus d. dominicensis) ....... 242
99. Head of Loggerhead Flycatcher (Tolmarchus c. caudifascia-
tus)....................... ........... ...... .. ....... 245
100. Sad Flycatcher (Myiarchus barbirostris) .................. 246
101. Greater Antillean Pewee (Blacicus c. caribaeus)........... 250
102. Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia m. martinica)................ 253
103. Jamaican Becard (Platypsaris niger) .................... 260
104. Golden Swallow (Lamprochelidon e. sclateri).............. 261
105. White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus) ............. 268
106. Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta p. insularis) ............. 271
107. Zapata Wren (Ferminia cerverai)......................... 274
108. Head of Bahaman Mockingbird (Mimus g. gundlachi)..... 275
109. Head of Scaly-breasted Thrasher (Allenia fusca).......... 277
110. Head of Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops f. fuscatus).... 278
111. Head of Trembler (Cinclocerthia r. pavida) ............... 279
112. Head of White-breasted Thrasher (Ramphocinclus b. bra-
chyurus). .......................................... 281
113. Head of White-eyed Thrush (Turdus jamaicensis) ......... 283
114. Head of Bahaman Thrush (Mimocichla plumbea).......... 286
115. Head of Forest Thrush (Cichlherminia l'h. sanctae-luciae). 289
116. Antillean Solitaire (Myadestes g. solitarius) .............. 291
117. Cuban Gnatcatcher (Polioptila lembeyi). ................. 296
118. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) ................... 298
119. Head of Palm Chat (Dulus dominicus) ................... 299
120. Head of Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo c. calidris)......... 301
121. Bahaman Bananaquit (Coereba b. bahamensis) ............ 307
122. Blue Honey-creeper (Cyanerpes c. cyaneus) ............... 310
123. Head of Orangequit (Euneornis campestris) ............... 311
124. Head of Golden Warbler (Dendroica p. petechia) .......... 313
125. Head of Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi)......... 321
126. Head of Bahaman Yellow-throat (Geothlypis r. rostrata)... 322
127. Head of White-breasted Ground Warbler (Microligea
montana). ......................................... 324
128. Head of Oriente Warbler (Teretistris fornsi). ............. 325
129. Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia) ............... 327
130. Parula Warbler (Compsothlypis a. pusilla) ................ 333
131. Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica c. caerulescens)... 336
132. Palm Warbler (Dendroica p. palmarum).................. 342
133. Louisiana Water Thrush (Seiurus motacilla). ............ 344
134. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) .................. 349
135. Head of Barbados Grackle (Holoquiscalus fortirostris)..... 351
136. Head of Cuban Blackbird (Ptiloxena atroviolacea) ........ 353
137. Montserrat Oriole (Icterus oberi) ....................... 354
138. Head of Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus). 357
139. Head of Jamaican Blackbird (Nesopsar nigerrimus) ....... 360
140. Meadowlark (Sturnella m. hippocrepis)................... 361
141. Puerto Rican Euphonia (Tanagra sclateri) ............... 366
142. Jamaican Euphonia (Pyrrhuphonia jamaica).............. 368
143. Head of Jamaican Spindalis (Spindalis nigricephala)...... 369
144. Head of Black-crowned Palm Tanager (Phaenicophilus
palmarum )................................... ...... 373
145. Head of Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus). 375
146. Head of Chat Tanager (Calyptophilus f. tertius) .......... 376
147. Head of Lesser Antillean Saltator (Saltator albicollis)...... 379
148. Head of Cuban Grassquit (Tiaris canora) ................ 381
149. Head of St. Lucian Black Finch (Melanospiza richardsoni). 383
150. Head of Yellow-backed Finch (Loxigilla anoxanthus) ..... 384
151. Head of Greater Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla v. affinis).... 385
152. Head of Cuban Bullfinch (Melopyrrha nigra) .............. 3SS
153. Antillean Goldfinch (Loximitris dominicensis)............ 390
154. White-winged Crossbill (Loxia 1. megaplaga) .............. 392
155. Head of Zapata Finch (Torreornis inexpectata)............ 393
156. Head of Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus s. intricatus). 394
157. Head of Andean Sparrow (Zonotrichia c. antillarum)...... 395
158. Village Weaver (Ploceus c. cucullatus) .................... 407
The natural history of the West Indies has received and is receiving
its share of attention from naturalists, but up to the present time
has never been studied in the intimate manner which it deserves.
It was for this reason that in 1926 the author began an intensive
ornithological survey of the islands and from that year until the
present some fifty were visited and approximately 170 of the 174
existing indigenous genera of West Indian birds, including the ma-
jority of the species and subspecies, were studied in life. Specimens
of most of the endemic birds were taken and are now in the collection
of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia where they have
been examined together with those in the collections of the American
Museum of Natural History in New York, the United States National
Museum in Washington and Museum of Comparative Zoalogy at
Harvard University. Smaller collections, including the famous
Gundlach collection of Cuban birds, have also been seen, so that there
was opportunity to study and compare every form of bird known to
occur on the islands. Field work was, however, by no means re-
stricted to accumulation of skins but also and more particularly was
an effort made to acquire knowledge on the distribution, habits, song
and nesting of the various species, much of this information being
hitherto unknown to science.
An attempt is herein made to combine the technical with the
popular, it being presupposed that the reader has at least an ele-
mentary knowledge of birds. The treatment of the species in the
present work is very similar to that accorded by many authors to
North American and European birds with certain differences which
it will be necessary to explain. In the first place it has been consid-
ered best to separate the residents from the migrants. A great many
migratory birds occur in the West Indies, some passing through the
islands, others remaining as winter residents, but comparatively few
of these are at all common and they represent a secondary portion
of the avifauna of these islands Apart from certain shore birds,
ducks and warblers, few migrants will be seen. Secondly, in order to
avoid repetition, accounts of the resident birds are given under the
genus heading, this being considered best in a region where so many
species are representative of one another and two thirds of the 176
indigenous genera are represented by but a single species. The ac-
tual degree of difference sufficient to warrant specific distinction
among representative forms is largely a matter of individual opinion.
In the present work birds differing merely in degree of coloring or size
are regarded as subspecies, whereas birds with decidedly distinctive
color or structural characters are given specific rank, even where
they are known to be members of a representative group. Birds
showing merely a slight average difference in color or structure are
not considered as subspecies, since the recognition of such would,
in the author's opinion, detract from the value of what are perfectly
recognizable races. On the other hand a form with a slight but con-
stant difference is considered valid. The systematic treatment has
also been influenced by the author's field experience since the rela-
tionship of some birds, difficult to understand when seen as skins,
is often apparent when an intimate field acquaintance with the
species is acquired. In particular, there is a biological significance
in the quality of song, serving to indicate whether or not two related
forms occurring on separate islands, would interbreed if their ranges
were to overlap. As a whole the classification of the resident forms
is that adopted by most writers on West Indian birds, certain changes
being made to show more clearly the relationships, for it can not be
too often repeated that scientific nomenclature is merely a "means
to an end" in the study of Ornithology. In regard to the systematic
treatment of North American migrants, the latest (1931) check-list
of the American Ornithologists Union has been followed, irrespective
of the author's personal opinions, except where conflicting with the
treatment accorded a resident bird.
One of the purposes of this book is to enable travellers to the West
Indies, as well as the residents, to identify the birds of these islands.
Thus the species are rather fully described,' particularly those that
are difficult to recognize, such as the shore-birds, but keys are con-
sidered quite unnecessary and apt to lead to confusion as the majority
of the birds are strongly characterized. The reader is advised on
reaching an island where he is anxious to see some of the native birds
to secure the assistance of some hunter who will know the local names
of most of the indigenous species and by referring to the index of local
names at the end of this book and checking up with the descriptions
or by means of the illustrations he should have little trouble in
identifying the resident forms. The North American migrants may
prove more difficult to recognize as these have for the most part no
specific local names.
Tropical birds are usually most confusing to a northerner as the
author can testify from his experiences in South and Central America
1Extinct West Indian birds, of which no skins are extant, are merely mentioned in
footnotes and are not included in the systematic list.
where many strange, exotic forms are encountered. This, however,
does not apply to the West Indies, where, despite their proximity to
South America, almost all the species are members of North American
families, which is surprising since South and Central America con-
stitute the richest zoigeographical Region in the world, the Neo-
tropical, while North America, the Nearctic, is the poorest. It
appears certain that at one time the Antilles were united with Central
America and owe the preservation of their original bird fauna to
water barriers. Central America has received, since the formation
of the Isthmus of Panama, an influx of Neotropical forms which has
to a great extent obliterated the original fauna, although on the other
hand some Central American birds, such as motmots, have since
become widespread through South America. The almost entire lack
of the characteristic Neotropical families of birds in the West Indies
is remarkable when it is considered that most of these are represented
in Trinidad. The inclusion of this island and Tobago among the
West Indies would nearly double the number of the indigenous genera
of all the Antilles and Bahama Islands combined and add as many as
fourteen Neotropical families to a region, which is herein considered
to comprise the Bahama Islands, the Greater Antilles, including the
Cayman and Swan Islands, and the Lesser Antilles, south to Grenada.
The Bermuda Islands are North American and lack any of the
characteristic West Indian species. Although 246 birds have been
recorded from the Bermudas, only seven are indigenous residents,
these being the Water Hen or Florida Gallinule, Ground Dove,
American Crow, Catbird, Bluebird, White-eyed Vireo and Cardinal.
Four others have been introduced and have become more or less
established, these being the Bob-White, the Northern Mockingbird,
the House or English Sparrow, and the European Goldfinch. Several
sea birds, notably the Yellow-billed Tropic-bird and Audubon's
Shearwater, also nest on the Bermudas and at one time the Bermuda
Petrel, a species closely related to the West Indian Black-capped
Petrel, bred on the islands but is probably now extinct.
Certain islands in the Caribbean Sea, not considered here as West
Indian, yet possess some Antillean birds. Cozumel, off the coast of
Yucatan, contains several species found in the West Indies and the
only extralimital form of Spindalis, but its bird fauna is predomi-
nantly continental. On the small islands of St. Andrews and Old
Providence situated far to the south, are found so many West Indian
species that they might almost be included in this region although
they lack all of the characteristic West Indian genera. The resident
land birds of these latter islands consist of the White-crowned Pigeon
and White-winged Dove, races of the Jamaican White-bellied Dove,
Mangrove or Black-eared Cuckoo, Black-throated Mango Hum-
mingbird, Prevost's Mango Hummingbird, Antillean Elaenia, West
Indian Vireo, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahaman Bananaquit, Golden
Warbler, Jamaican Oriole, Black-faced Grassquit and finally the
Large-billed Mockingbird, the only endemic species which is closely
related to the Southern Mockingbird (M. gilous). On the islands in
the South Caribbean, commonly known as the "Leeward Islands,"
including the Dutch islands, Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire, are also
found a few West Indian species, including the Antillean Elaenia,
Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Golden Warbler, and Black-faced Grassquit,
but there are also a number of South American genera and species
occurring here. The Antillean element in the avifauna of these
extralimital islands has in all probability been brought about through
hurricanes, which usually travel from east to west, the birds becoming
established on the islands, but failing to obtain a foothold on the
mainland due to the greater force of competition. It is significant in
this respect that the Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabirostris), one
of the commonest and tamest birds of Cozumel Island, is rare and
one of the shyest of birds across the channel on the mainland of Quin-
tana Roo, and a number of other species found on this island, con-
stituting what is presumably a relict fauna, appear to be completely
lacking on the peninsula of Yucatan. An instance of an endemic
West Indian bird being found outside of the limits of its range is the
record of a Giant Kingbird from Mugeres Island, Yucatan.
An examination of the West Indies as here considered reveals that
there are three distinct zoigeographical provinces,-the Greater
Antillean, the Lesser Antillean and the Bahaman. Of the three the
Greater Antillean is the richest in bird life, and here alone are found
the two endemic West Indian families, the todies and the palm chats.
Of the 176 resident and summer resident genera of West Indian birds
as many as thirty-two are endemic to the Greater Antilles, while at
least four more (Tolmarchus, Riccordia, Saurothera and Spindalis)
are of Greater Antillean origin. Eight genera are endemic to the
Lesser Antilles and three others (Sericotes, Orthorhyncus and 3Mar-
garops) are evidently of Lesser Antillean origin. In addition there
are several genera of West Indian origin, such as Holoquiscalus,
Loxigilla and Tiaris and probably also Dendroica. Only one genus,
Callichelidon, may be said to be confined to the Bahamas, where it
nests on the northern pine forested islands, migrating south in the
winter to Inagua and Cuba. The fauna of these islands, which are
of oceanic origin, is, as might be expected, far from rich and has been
derived chiefly from Cuba and Florida. Apart from the swallow
which is related to the North American Tree and Violet-green Swal-
lows, the only Bahaman birds worthy of special mention are the
hummingbirds of the genus Nesophlox, the one extralimital species of
which is found in Costa Rica and in the mountains of northwestern
Panama. This is a relict genus that probably was at one time more
widespread through the West Indies.
Fifty-one genera of birds are confined to the West Indies or are at
least of West Indian origin. The remainder of the West Indian genera
are all represented in Central America, although a few of these
evidently originated in South America. Approximately a hundred
are known from North America and a number of these are possibly
of Antillean origin.
The interesting endemic genera of the West Indies belong to twenty
families, all of which, excluding the two endemic families, Todidae
and Dulidae, are known from North America. The todies are closely
related to the motmots, a family that, it is believed, originated in
northern Central America, while the Palm Chat seems structurally to
be near the waxwings, a Holarctic family, and the silky flycatchers, a
Central American family, occurring also in the southwestern United
Among the Greater Antilles, Jamaica is the most Neotropicalin
its bird life, containing not only a peculiar genus of the Coerebidae,
Euneornis, but also the only cotinga found on the islands. It is
probable that these were derived from Central America at a time when
Cuba was already an island, although the southwestern portion of
what is now Hispaniola may have been still united with Jamaica.
The occurrence on Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Gonave Island of the
widespread Grey Potoo, Nyctibius griseus, is interesting in this
respect, since it has undoubtedly reached the West Indies from
Central America, as has in all probability the Andean Sparrow, a
remarkably wide-ranging and stable species which is not closely
related to the North American members of its genus. It is significant
that neither of these birds are specifically distinct from mainland
forms. On the other hand, the presence of a White-winged Crossbill
in the mountains of Hispaniola, a species of unquestionable boreal
origin, is probably fortuitous as might be expected of a bird of such
The avifauna of the Lesser Antilles is rather uniform with ihe
exception of Martinique which is apparently somewhat older geo-
logically than the remainder of these islands. Certain species
common to islands north and south of Martinique are here repre-
sented by what are probably ancestral forms of the same species,
an example being the Mangrove Warbler, a Central American bird,
which is represented elsewhere in the West Indies by the Golden
Enough has been said to illustrate the preponderance of the North
American and, particularly, of the northern Central American ele-
ment in the bird fauna of the West Indies and with the prevalence of
northern forms, particularly among the older, relict genera of the
islands it would seem more logical, from an ornithological viewpoint,
to consider this area as a subregion of the Nearctic ratherthanof
the Neotropical Region.
A peculiarity of the West Indies is that, unlike the Andes of Central
and South America, there are no well-defined faunal zones, except in
Hispaniola, where at elevations chiefly well above three thousand
feet in the cool pine forests one may find the White-winged Crossbill,
Andean Sparrow, and Antillean Goldfinch. Elsewhere in the West
Indies, a number of the predominantly mountain forms descend
occasionally to near sea level.
The extent of our present knowledge of West Indian birds far
exceeds that of any other part of the American Tropics. So much is
known of the ornithology of these islands that further general collec-
tions of birds from this region would be useless and a needless waste
of bird life, although there are places, in particular'the Caicos Islands
and some of the cays off the south coast of Cuba, where certain
specimens should be taken for comparative purposes. There are
some West Indian birds so rare that the taking of a large series would
materially affect their status and might lead to their extinction.
Most of the islands have laws protecting birds and impose limitations
as to how many one may collect, but there are, unfortunately, some
islands offering no such protection. It would be unnecessary and a
mistake to place a complete ban on collecting, but all specimens taken
should serve some definite scientific purpose.
There can be no doubt that the principal factor that has resulted
in the extinction or rarity of so many West Indian birds is man. The
clearing of virgin growth for plantations has had an adverse effect on
some of the interesting forest species, particularly in the Lesser
Antilles, although on the other hand this has contributed to the
increase of many of the brush-loving birds. Native pot hunters,
chiefly on the French islands, have reduced the numbers of several
species, including even some of the thrushes and thrashers and it is
directly due to man that so many of the parrot family have disap-
peared from the islands.. There has fortunately in recent years been
some curtailment on the lucrative traffic of exporting living parrots
to the United States, the continuance of which would have resulted
in a comparatively few years in the complete extermination of most
of these interesting birds in the West Indies. A few years ago, in
spite of government protection, the Lesser Antillean parrots were
sold to tourists at prodigious figures. The author himself has been
offered living specimens of the St. Vincent Parrot at prices varying
from ten dollars to fifty dollars each while the splendid Imperial
Parrot of Dominica is sold for even higher sums. Much has been
written on the destructiveness of the mongoose but there is reason to
doubt if this creature has caused much harm to birds in the West
Indies. Some of the Lesser Antillean wrens became extinct or nearly
extinct because of the mongoose and the extreme rarity of Semper's
Warbler of St. Lucia may be attributed to this cause. On the other
hand the mongoose is terrestrial and therefore not liable to affect
to any extent the numbers of arboreal nesting birds. African mon-
keys have been introduced on some of the smaller of the Antilles and
have caused considerable harm to birds, being responsible for the
extinction of the larger St. Kitts bullfinch. Purely natural causes
also contribute to the rarity of species, such as the inability to cope
with allied forms, there being always the tendency of one to dominate
and drive out the other. This is apparent in the West Indies with
two closely related species of flycatchers of the genus Elaenia which
are found on Grenada and St. Vincent, one of which is evidently a
recent arrival from South America but has been established on Gren-
ada long enough to have evicted the West Indian form from the low-
lands. The same is happening on St. Vincent where, however, the
two species may yet be found side by side at sea level. The rarity of
the La Selle Thrush is probably due to the presence of the Red-legged
Thrush (Mimocichla), while the existence of two thrushes of the genus
Turdus on Jamaica has probably resulted in the extirpation of this
island's representative of Mimocichla, a trace of which we have in the
existence of the peculiar Grand Cayman Thrush (M. ravida). Finally,
hurricanes often take heavy toll of bird life, being particularly
destructive on the low-lying Bahama Islands, although it is surprising
that the havoc caused by these storms is not greater.
In no other part of the world, with the exception, perhaps, of the
Hawaiian Islands, are so many birds in danger of extinction as in the
West Indies, and at least twelve forms have become extinct in the past
hundred years. It is to be hoped that the island authorities will
show more concern for the welfare of their birds so that there may
yet be a possibility to save the rare species from being annihilated.
Bird sanctuaries should be created where no hunting of any kind is
permitted. and there should be a complete ban on commercial
In spite of the scarcity of many West Indian birds, a large
percentage should be located without difficulty by a visitor to the
islands, even by the tourist who has but little time to spare. In
order, however, to see some of the rarer birds involves the undertak-
ing of trips into the interior, preferably in May and June during the
first rainy season (the second reaches its height in October) and the
nesting season of most of the rarer species, these being then more
active and conspicuous. The many excellent travel books on the
West Indies deal almost entirely with the political and commercial
histories of the islands and with points of interest in town and coun-
try. The average tourist has neither the time nor the inclination to
leave the beaten track, although there are a few, chiefly those inter-
ested in some branch of natural history, who would gladly undertake
a trip into the interior. For the benefit of these the following remarks
To reach most of the higher mountains, particularly those of the
Lesser Antilles, it is necessary to proceed on foot, although much of
the preliminary travelling can often be made on horse-back if not by
automobile. In ascending the higher mountain ranges of the Greater
Antilles, such as the Cordillera Central of the Dominican Republic,
pack mules should be employed as there are numerous rivers that one
has to cross. Living conditions in these interior mountains are
extremely primitive and there are many travellers who would prefer
camping out to living in native huts. The author, however, when-
ever possible resided with the natives who are on all the islands ex-
ceedingly hospitable and, once their friendship is attained, they are
often of assistance. Natives should at all times be treated with the
greatest respect but never with intimacy and, to avoid offence, one
should accept as far as possible the many courtesies that are offered
the stranger. It is of course necessary to pay for one's board, but the
amount should not be extravagant, remembering always that lavish-
ness is not appreciated except in districts frequented by tourists.
It is well to remember that the staple foods can be procured in the
interior and sometimes even luxuries. At an elevation of over six
thousand feet on Morne la Selle in Haiti one can live luxuriously on
wild strawberries and the best artichokes in the world and often be
able to buy cigarettes and bread brought up from Port au Prince by
native women, and this in the territory of the rare White-winged
Crossbill and La Selle Thrush! There are few hardships and even
fewer dangers on these interior excursions which are nevertheless
The mountains are particularly healthy but one should carry
several blankets as it becomes cold at night at high altitudes even
during the summer months. It is also advisable to take along ample
insect powder, since, though there are few mosquitos, fleas are apt
to be troublesome. The lower, hotter sections are much less pleasant
and there is the possibility, chiefly on the larger islands, of malaria
or dengue fever and care should be taken against dysentery and
typhoid. The author has never boiled water for drinking purposes in
the West Indies, but in the vicinity of towns and native settlements
it is wise to do so; in the mountains it is quite unnecessary. At low
elevations, if one should sleep in native huts, a hammock is a neces-
sity, being cool and clean. A covering of mosquito netting is seldom
needed although advisable in malaria infested districts. Saturating
the hands and face with some specially prepared oil when retiring
will usually be sufficient to keep off mosquitos which are most trouble-
some just after sundown. Fortunately, with the exceptions of Mar-
tinique and St. Lucia, there are no poisonous reptiles in this region.
On these two islands there is found the fer-de-lance which is very
locally distributed and not at all likely to be encountered.
Among the more interesting excursions that one can take in the
West Indies are those to "out islands." The larger of the Antilles
can all be reached by steamer from New York. These include Cuba,
Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Chris-
topher or St. Kitts, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique,
St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and Grenada. There is regular
steamer service connecting the Isle of Pines and Cuba and motor boat
service between the Isle of Pines and Grand Cayman. This latter
island can also be reached via Little Cayman and Cayman Brac from
Kingston, Jamaica. Gonave Island, Haiti, is best reached by sloop
from Miragoane and Tortuga Island from Port de Paix. There is a
regular mail service between St. Thomas and Tortola and a monthly
steamer from Curacao touches at St. Thomas before proceeding to
Saba, St. Barts and St. Martin. Barbuda and Montserrat are acces-
sible from Antigua, the former island by sloop, the latter by steamer.
There is a small steamer plying periodically between Guadeloupe and
Marie Galante, sometimes touching at "The Saints," but Desirade
is connected with Guadeloupe by sloop only. There is a regular
motor boat service between Grenada and Carriacou. The outer
Bahama islands, including Grand Bahama, Abaco, the Bimini Is-
lands, Andros, Eleuthera, Cat and Watling islands, Rum Cay, Long,
Acklin, Fortune, Great Inagua, Exuma and the Ragged Islands are
all connected by mail schooner or motor-boat from Nassau, but the
Turk and Caicos Islands, which are under the dependency of Jamaica,
are best reached by schooner from Kingston.
For the ornithologist, bent on serious study, the West Indies still
present a fascinating field, since, although there are in all probability
no new species and few, if any, new races to be discovered in this
region, there are many interesting problems that confront the stu-
dent. The life histories of many of the land birds are unknown or
but imperfectly known and a more accurate knowledge of the various
breeding colonies of sea birds is desirable. Much of this work can be
accomplished by resident naturalists, whose opportunities are far
greater than are those of the visitor who spends but a few months on
the islands. It is hoped that the many gaps in our knowledge of the
birds of the West Indies, indicated in the pages of this book, will be
an incentive to further research and that those interested in other
branches of natural history will be induced to visit the islands where
they may acquire information that will enable us to understand more
clearly the complicated problems of the origin of life on the Antilles.
So many articles, all of some importance, have been written on the
birds of the West Indies that no complete bibliography can be given
here. The following is a list of the principal publications on the
subject that have been of much use to the author in the preparation
of this book:
Birds of North and Middle America, 1901-1919 (Ridgway).'
Catalogue of Birds of the Americas, 1918-1934 (Cory and Hellmayr).
Life Histories of North American Birds, 1919-1932 (Bent).
The Birds of the West Indies, 1889 (Cory).
Ornitologia Cubana, 1893 (Gundlach).
Birds of Cuba, 1923 (Barbour).
The Birds of the Isle of Pines, 1916 (Todd).
Birds of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, 1931 (Wetmore and
The Birds of Jamaica, 1847 (Gosse).
Notes on the Birds of Jamaica, 1863 (March).
A List of the Birds of Jamaica, 1920 (Bangs and Kennard).
A Collection of Birds from the Cayman Islands, 1916 (Bangs).
The Birds of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands, 1927 (Wetmore).
Puerto Rican Ornithological Records, 1931 (Danforth).
Birds of St. Croix, 1930 (Beatty).
Birds of the Island of Anguilla, West Indies, 1927 (Peters).
Catalogue of a Collection of Birds from Barbuda and Antigua,
British West Indies, 1904 (Riley)
Birds of Antigua, 1934 (Danforth).
The Resident Birds of Guadeloupe, 1916 (Noble).
Notes on the Fauna of the Island of Dominica, British West Indies,
with Lists of the Species Obtained and Observed by G. E. and
A. H. Verrill, 1892 (G. E. Verrill).
Birds of the Southern Lesser Antilles, 1905 (Clark).
A Catalogue of the Birds of Grenada, West Indies, with Observations
thereon, 1886 (Wells).
Birds of the Bahama Islands, 1905 (Riley).
A Contribution to the Ornithology of the Bahama Islands, 1911 (Todd
1 Readers interested in original references, synonomy and type localities of West Indian
birds are referred to this great work.
The author is also indebted to the following:
Mr. P. K. Agar of Dominica for information on the birds of this island.
Dr. E. Ciferri of Moca, Dominican Republic, for his aid and com-
panionship in the field as well as in supplying valuable informa-
tion on the birds of this republic.
Dr. Stuart Danforth, of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, for his hospitality
and aid when the author was studying the birds of Puerto Rico.
The late Dr. Erik L. Ekman of Stockholm, Sweden, for his assistance
to the author when in Haiti.
Mr. Stanley John of Castries, St. Lucia, who has supplied much
information on the birds of this interesting island.
Mr. Stuart Panton of Mandeville, Jamaica, for information on the
birds of Jamaica, including an account of the nesting of the
Mr. J. L. Peters, of the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard
University for criticism of the systematic list.
Mr. Earl L. Poole of Reading, Pa. who is responsible for the excellent
illustrations contained in this book.
Dr. Charles Ramsden of Guantanamo, Cuba, Senor Jose Veiga and
Senor Gast6n Villalba of Havana, Cuba, for hitherto unpublished
information on Cuban birds. Senor Villalba very kindly cor-
Srected the local Spanish names.
Mr. George D. Smooker of Port of Spain, Trinidad, for information
on the nesting habits of certain Lesser Antillean species also
occurring in Trinidad.
Dr. Witmer Stone and Mr. Rodolphe de Schauensee of the Academy
of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and Dr. Alexander Wetmore
of the United States National Museum for many valuable
Dr. Daniel Thaly of Roseau, Dominica, for correcting the local French
and Creole names.
Finally the author wishes to thank all those that have helped in
every way in their power towards the success of his expeditions.
Among these are the officials of the Cuban, Dominican, and Haitian
Republics and those of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the
British, French and Dutch islands, who allowed him to collect speci-
mens and granted other facilities that enabled him to carry through
Grebes comprise a rather small family of lobe-footed water birds
and are of world-wide distribution. When seen from afar they re-
semble small ducks, but may be distinguished by their pointed bills
and tailless appearance. They rarely take to wing, but are expert
divers. When under water they propel themselves by means of their
feet. They feed on small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects and
vegetation and though edible are not palatable. Only two species
are found in the West Indies. The genus Colymbus is widely dis-
tributed throughout the world, but the Pied-billed Grebes (Podilym-
bus) are confined to the Americas. The Least Grebe (C. dominicus)
is the smallest of its family.
The Least Grebe has a more circumscribed range in the West
Indies than the Pied-billed Grebe, and is somewhat local in distribu-
tion, but in large fresh-water lagoons is often common and is some-
times seen in company with the Dabchick, being readily distinguished
by its small size.
Nesting:-The nest and eggs (34 x 23.5 mm.)' resemble those of
the Pied-billed Grebe.
LEAST GREBE (Colymbus dominicus)
Local names:-Diver; Hell Diver; Two-penny Chick; Zarama-
gull6n; Zaramagull6n Chico; Tigiia; Zambullidor; Plongeon; Petit
Description (C. d. dominicus):-Pileum black with a greenish gloss;
remaining upperparts brownish black; primaries and secondaries
marked more or less with white; throat blackish, fore neck and upper
breast brownish gray; remainder of underparts silvery white, washed
with dusky brown on sides, flanks, thighs, vent and under tail-
coverts; iris orange; bill black with whitish tip; legs blackish.
Adults in winter have the crown and nape brownish, like the rest
of the upperparts; chin and throat white. Length 10 ins.; wing
3-3.75; bill 0.85; depth of bill at nostril 0.25; tarsus 1.2.
1 Average egg measurements are given for the benefit of oblogists, and, as is customary,
are in millimeters rather than in inches.
Immature birds have a pale lower mandible and the chin and
throat are white with more or less distinct dusky submalar stripes.
Range:-Greater Antilles (Cuba, Isle of Pines, Hispaniola, Ja-
maica, Puerto Rico) and the Bahama Islands, where recorded from
Eleuthera, Watling, Andros, Rum Cay, Long, Acklin and Inagua
islands (C. d. dominicus).
Almost any lake or pond of any size in the West Indies harbors
one or more pairs of the Pied-billed Grebe, a species well known to
American bird lovers and sportsmen. Like the Least Grebe it pre-
fers, though is not confined to, fresh-water rather than salt-water
lagoons. I have never seen it take to wing, though it dives with
great rapidity when alarmed. In the nesting season the males
sometimes utter a loud rolling call but are usually silent.
Nesting:-The nest is composed of a rough mass of decayed and
water-soaked vegetation, and is usually found where the water is
shallow, being either built up from the bottom or merely attached to
its surroundings. In deeper water the nest is often a floating
structure. Eggs, 3-10, dull bluish white or pale olive when freshly
laid but becoming much nest stained (43.5 x 30 mm.).
Mid-summer marks the height of the breeding season of Grebes
in the West Indies.
PIED-BILLED GREBE OR DABCHICK (Podilymbus podiceps)
Local names:-Diver; Hell Diver; Zaramago; Zaramagull6n;
Zaramagull6n Grande; Zambullidor; Plongeon; Grand Plongeon;
Description (P. p. podiceps):-Upperparts a glossy blackish-brown,
darker on crown and paler on cheeks and sides of neck;throat black.
SHEARWATERS AND PETRELS
-- 7 -*t
: --- '----- "i--^,, .
upper breast washed with brownish buff, more or less distinctly
mottled with gray or black on breast and flanks; lower breast and
abdomen silvery white; bill milky white crossed with a black band
about the center; iris dark brown; feet plumbeous, or greenish
black. Adults in winter and immature birds have the throat an
immaculate white and no black band on the bill. Adult males are
slightly smaller than the females.
Length 13 ins.; wing 4.5-5; bill 0.85; depth of bill at nostril 0.5;
Range:-Throughout the West Indies; also widely in North and
Central America (P. p. podiceps).2
(Shearwaters, Fulmars and Petrels)
This large family of sea birds range in size from about 1 foot (the
Prions) to 3 feet (the Giant Petrel) in length, whereas the stormy
petrels (Hydrobatidae), two of which occur as wanderers to the
West Indies, all attain a length of less than 1 foot. These two
families, the southern diving petrels (Pelicanoididae) and the alba-
trosses (Diomedeidae), constitute the order Procellariiformes, at
once distinguished from other birds by the long tubular nostrils.
Only two species are West Indian, and these belong to genera that
are of world-wide distribution.
2 I agree with Todd (Ann. Carnegie Mus., Vol. 10, 1916, p. 170) that West Indian birds
represent this race, although they average smaller than those from North America. It is
presumptuous in my opinion to regard large West Indian examples as migrants from the
North. For instance the wing of an adult female taken in July in Cuba measures 4.7 ins.,
and that of a male from Grenada 5.2 ins., these being well within the range of measure-
ments of North American birds.
SHEARWATERS AND PETRELS
These birds are essentially oceanic, passing all their time at sea
except during the breeding season. Even when nesting they are not
likely to be seen near land by day, although at night their peculiar
wailing cries may be heard on every hand. They feed on small
fishes and other marine life. When at sea they may be identified
by their flight, a few rapid wing-beats followed by a glide. They
fly close to the surface of the water, a habit that has earned for
some the name of "shearwater" and for others "petrel" which latter
name is said to be derived from Simon Peter's attempt to walk on
Audubon's Shearwater is the only member of its family that is
likely to be seen in the West Indies. It is particularly numerous
about the Grenadines, but is also common among the Bahama
Islands. Elsewhere it occurs in isolated colonies on small rocky
islands, but so far as I am aware, does not breed on the coasts of
any of the larger Antilles. I found this shearwater nesting on the
rocky precipitous slopes of Saba. Here the birds were found in
crevices in the rock well up on the face of the mountain, but they
usually choose their nesting sites at lower elevations. When near
their nests one becomes aware of a peculiar musty odor even when
the birds are absent.
Nesting:-A single white egg is laid in a cleft in a rock, usually
near sea level, the egg being deposited either on the bare rock, or on a
loosely constructed nest of twigs or dried grass (52.5 x 36 mm.).
AUDUBON'S SHEARWATER (Puffnus lherminieri)
Local names:-Pimlico; Wedrego; Pampero; Diablotin.
Description (P. 1. lherminieri):-Upperparts, including wings and
tail, dark brownish black; underparts, sides of head and neck white,
the sides of breast and flanks washed with grayish; under tail-
coverts similar in color to the upperparts; bill blackish, bluish at
base; feet slate-blue, the outer toes black.
Length 11.5 ins.; wing 6.6-8; tail 3; bill 1.25; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Bahama Islands, Virgin Islands (nests on Little Saba
Island), Lesser Antilles (nests in numbers on many of the smaller
Leeward Islands as well as on Barbados and on many of the Grena-
dines) and the Bermuda Islands. Occurs also off the northern
coasts of Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and has been seen
near Navassa and Beata islands (P. 1. lherminieri).
SHEARWATERS AND PETRELS
-; _. ... .... .
C ._. --`--
There is no West Indian bird that remains so mysterious as the
rare Black-capped Petrel. At one time the species was known to
nest in the interior mountains of
Guadeloupe and Dominica and also
in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica,3
but seems to have disappeared from
its former breeding grounds. A few -*
have been observed in recent years ;.
on the ocean northeast of the West '
Indies and a straggler was collected :
at Moca (Dominican Republic) in
1928 and another in Dominica in 1932.
Volcanic disturbances, the introduc- BLACK-CAPPED PETREL
tion of mongoose, oppossums, and
rats, and the taking of the birds for food by the natives, are
doubtless responsible for the scarcity of this interesting petrel, but
SBoth Dr. Murphy, of the American Museum of Natural History and the author be-
lieve that P. caribbaea of Jamaica is merely a dark phase of P. hasitata. That such a phase
exists among Lesser Antillean birds is apparent from the writings of P&re Labat who both
describes and illustrates the Diablotin as a bird entirely black (Nouv. Voy.. 1724, II, p.
349-50). The author believes that he saw a bird in the dark phase west of the Bimini
SHEARWATERS AND PETRELS
it is my belief that a few still nest on the high mountain cliffs of
Guadeloupe and Dominica.4
Nesting:-In burrows excavated by the birds in cliffs or banks,
often under the roots of trees, high up in the mountains. The
eggs do not seem to have been described but others of the genus
lay one white egg.
BLACK-CAPPED PETREL (Pterodroma hasitata)
Local names:-Blue Mountain Duck; Dry Land Booby; Diablotin.
Description:-Normal phase:-Upperparts sooty brown; crown
and tail black; forehead more or less immaculate white; hind neck,
upper tail-coverts and base of tail white or grayish; underparts
white; sides of breast grayish or grayish brown; bill black; feet
flesh-colored, the edges of the webs black. Dark phase:-Sooty
brown, rather darker on back, and paler on forehead and on under-
parts; upper tail-coverts and base of outer rectrices whitish; tail
Length 15 ins.; wing 10.3-11.5; tail 5.5; bill 1.5; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Formerly nested in the Blue Mountains of .'amaica and
in the mountains of Guadeloupe and Dominica. Also recorded from
Hispaniola, on the Atlantic north and north east of the Bahama
Islands, as well as from various localities in the United States.
GREATER SHEARWATER (Pufinus gravis)
Description:-Upperparts deep sooty brown, more or less margined
with whitish except on pileum; quills and tail black, or brownish
black; hind neck white, washed with dusky; distal portion of longer
upper tail-coverts whitish, indistinctly barred with dusky; under-
parts white, more or less washed with dusky on abdomen; thighs
and under tail-coverts ashy brown; bill dark horn-colored; feet
brown. This species resembles the Black-capped Petrel but the
latter may be distinguished by the greater amount of white on the
hind neck, and by the white forehead.
Length 20 ins.; wing 12-13; tail 4.5; bill 2; tarsus 2.25.
Range:-Breeds on the Tristan da Cunha Islands in the south
4 When on the La Selle Ridge (6,000 feet) in Haiti in 1930 I was informed by natives of
sea birds that occurred at certain seasons of the year in these mountains. Perhaps the
Black-capped Petrel nests in the inaccessible cliffs of La Selle and in other ranges of this
rugged island. Natives claim that a few still breed in Dominica, and Guadeloupe is by
no means so well known as to justify the conclusion that the birds do not exist on that
Atlantic. Not uncommon in summer on the north Atlantic. Strag-
gler to the West Indies where recorded from New Providence
These small sea birds are usually seen well out on the ocean.
They are most likely to be observed following a steamer in search of
galley refuse, or minute marine life killed by the ship's propeller.
They are not common in the West Indies, but appear to be well
known to natives of the Bahamas under the name of "molly-kate-
LEACH'S PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
Description (0. I. leucorhoa):-Resembles Wilson's Petrel but
larger and paler; tarsus much shorter; wing-coverts and inner
secondaries light grayish brown; longer upper tail-coverts not pure
white but mixed with grayish brown; tail forked; bill and feet black.
Length 8.25 ins.; wing 5.75-6.5; tail 3; depth of fork of tail 0.75;
bill 0.65; tarsus 0.9.
Range:-Breeds on coasts and islands of the north Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans. Winters south to the Equator. Apparently a not
uncommon visitant to West Indian waters where recorded from off
Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Bar-
bados (0. 1. leucorhoa).
WILSON'S PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus)
Description (0. o. oceanicus):-Plumage blackish brown, darker
on quills and tail and paler on underparts; secondary coverts gray,
tipped with white;longer upper tail-coverts and flanks conspicuously
white; ventral region mixed with white; tail square; bill and feet
black; color of webs variable but usually yellow.
Length 7.25 ins.; wing 5.75-6.25; tail 3; bill 0.5; tarsus 1.35.
The immature is similar but feathers of abdomen edged with
white; lores mottled with white.
Range:-Breeds on the South Shetlands, South Orkneys and on
South Georgia. Common in summer on the north Atlantic. A
5 Gory believed he saw this species on several occasions when cruising among the
Bahama Islands, and it has been recorded by Lherminier from Guadeloupe and
straggler to the West Indies, but probably more numerous than
indicated by the records. Recorded off Cuba, Jamaica?, Hispaniola
(off southeast coast of Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, St.
Croix?, St. Vincent, the Grenadines (Carriacou), Grenada, and, in
the Bahamas, from the Island of New Providence (0. o. oceanicus).
The voyager among the West Indian islands will occasionally see
those beautiful white sea birds, the tropic-birds, though they are
locally distributed and not very common in these waters. When in
full adult plumage, the two central tail feathers, or, when lacking
these, their rapid pigeon-like flight or buoyancy when floating on
the water, should readily distinguish them. Tropic-birds feed on
fish which they procure by plunging into the sea from a considerable
height above the water after the manner of boobies. Two of the
three known species occur in the West Indies. The lovely Red-
tailed Tropic-bird (P. rubricaudus) is confined to the Pacific and
Tropic-birds are local in the West Indies, and, though often
common where found, are not frequently encountered. I have
observed them (P. lepturus) off Abaco Island in the Bahamas, on
the north coast of Tortuga Island and off Ile A Vache (Haiti), and,
in the Lesser Antilles, at Saba and Montserrat (P. aethereus),
Guadeloupe and St. Lucia. The Yellow-billed Tropic-bird is much
more widely distributed in the West Indies than is the Red-billed
Tropic-bird which is apparently confined to the Lesser Antilles.
Nesting:-In the West Indies, tropic-birds nest in small colonies,
laying their single egg on a ledge or crevice in the face of a cliff,
or cave by the sea. The egg has a pinkish or dirty white ground
color which is more or less obscured by blotches of various shades
of brown and purple (54 x 40 mm-P. lepturus; 56.5 x 42 mm.,-
RED-BILLED TROPIC-BIRD (Phaethon aethereus)
Local names:-Truphit; Boatswain Bird; Paille-en-queue.
Description (P. a. mesonauta):-Resembles the Yellow-billed
Tropic-bird but upperparts finely barred with black, not uniformly
white; much less black on wings and wring-coverts; bill red and tarsi
yellowish; also averages decidedly larger.
Length 24-40 ins.; wing 10.5-13; tail to 26; bill 2.25; tarsus 1.
The immature resembles the adult but central tail feathers not
elongated; black barring on upperparts broader.
Range:-In the West Indies apparently confined to the Lesser
Antilles where it is recorded from Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts,
Antigua, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Ddsirade, St. Lucia, St. Vincent,
the Grenadines, Grenada and Barbados. Occurs also off the coast
of Venezuela, off Western Mexico, inlAlmirante Bay, Panama, and
among the Galapagos and Cape Verde Islands (P. a. mesonauta).
YELLOW-BILLED TROPIC-BIRD (Phaethon lepturus)
Local names:-"Chitee-churo"; Tropic; Truphit; Boatswain Bird;
Long-tail; Rabijunco; Contramaestre; Chirre de Altura; Paille-en-
Description (P. 1. catesbyi):-Mainly white, more or less tinged
with salmon-pink; a black streak through eye, terminating in a
crescent shaped mark above gape; tips of middle wing-coverts black,
forming a band across wing; four outermost primaries with outer
webs and part of inner webs black, the fifth also showing black
along the shaft; distal portion of secondaries and of scapulars black;
flanks streaked with dusky; two central tail feathers much length-
ened; bill orange-yellow; tarsus bluish; webs and toes black.
Length 16-32 ins.; wing 10-11; tail to 21.5; bill 2; tarsus 0.8.
The young are white, striated on the upperparts and wings with
black, and have short tails.
Range:-Throughout the Antilles, Bahama and Bermuda Islands
(P. 1. catesbyi).
Of the eight recognized species of these well known water birds,
only the Brown Pelican, the smallest of its family, is found in the
West Indies, although the American White Pelican has been recorded
casually from Cuba.
The Brown Pelican is the most familiar and one of the commonest
water birds of the West Indies and should be seen by every visitor
to the region. It is sociable in habits being often observed in small
groups flying in single file (diagonally) close to the surface of the
sea. In flight a few wing beats are followed by a scale, all the
birds keeping in perfect unison. When feeding they act more inde-
pendently. On locating a school of small fishes the Brown Pelican
plunges into the water and, on coming to the surface, which it does
tail first, gulps down its catch and then rests a moment before
flying off in search of more.
Nesting:-In colonies on small islands. The nests are placed on
the ground or in mangroves and are composed of sticks, weeds,
palmetto leaves, etc., and vary considerably in size. Two or three
eggs are laid. These are white but soon become nest stained (73 x
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Local names:-Pelican; Alcatraz; Grand Gosier.
Description (P. o. occidentalis):-Variable; upper part of head and
line down either side of neck white, the crown being yellowish;
hind neck, in breeding season, dark chestnut, later becoming yellow-
ish white; a tuft of yellowish feathers at base of fore neck; rest of
upperparts silvery grey, but showing some dark brown; primaries
black, but white basally; underparts dark brown, streaked with
white on the sides and flanks.
Length about 50 ins.; wing 18.5-22; tail 6; bill 9.5-14.5; tarsus 2.75.
Young birds have the head, neck and upperparts brownish and
the abdomen white.
Range:-Throughout the West Indies and from South Carolina
south, along the mainland coast, to Brazil (P. o. occidentalis).6
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Local name:-Alcatraz Blanco.
Description:-Plumage white, washed with yellowish on breast
and wing-coverts; primaries and most of secondaries black, the
latter margined with white; in the breeding season an occipital crest
of white or yellowish feathers and a horny prominence on bill; bill
orange, red at base of lower mandible; pouch yellow to orange;
Length about 60 ins.; wing 20-25; tail 6.5; bill 13.5; tarsus 4.5.
Range:-Breeds in western North America. Straggler to Cuba
(one record), the Isle of Pines (record somewhat doubtful) and
Antigua (record doubtful).
6 Mainland birds (P. o. carolinensis Gmelin) are, at least in numerous instances, indis-
tinguishable from West Indian examples.
(Boobies and Gannets)
This family comprises nine species of which three are gannets
(Morus) and the remainder boobies (Sula). Of the latter genus,
which is chiefly confined to the tropics, three species are found in
the West Indies. Boobies, unlike pelicans, wander well out to sea
and, except when nesting, are rather solitary in habits. They fly
with head and neck outstretched close to the surface of the water
alternately beating their wings and scaling.
Of the three West Indian boobies, the Brown Booby is the com-
monest and the Blue-faced Booby the rarest and most local in this
region. All three species occur among the Grenadines, which are
by far the best water bird islands in the West Indies. Among the
Bahamas and Lesser Antilles the Brown Booby is the species most
frequently encountered but, off Jamaica and Cuba and about the
Cayman Islands, the Red-footed Booby is seen perhaps as fre-
Nesting:-In colonies on small islands. The nests are mere hol-
lows in the ground with or without a scanty lining of grasses
(S. leucogaster, S. dactylatra) or a rough nest of sticks in bushes
-(S. sula). Eggs, 1-2, bluish, covered with a white chalky deposit
(60 x 40 mm.,-S. leucogaster, S. sula; 67 x 46 mm.,-S. dactylatra).
BLUE-FACED BOOBY (Sula dactylatra)
Local names:-White Booby; Fou Blanc.
Description (S. d. dactylatra):-Mostly white; wing-quills, greater
wing-coverts and tail, dark chocolate-brown; naked skin of face and
throat blue-black; bill and feet variously colored.
Length 35 ins.; wing 16.5-18; tail 7.5; bill 4.25; tarsus 2.25.
Immature birds have the head and neck dark brownish, and the
rest of the upperparts grayish brown.
Range:-Bahama Islands (Santo Domingo Cay), and the Grena-
dines (Battowia and Kick-em-Jenny). Also nests on islands off the
South and Central American coasts and on the island of Ascension
in the Atlantic (S. d. dactylatra).
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)
Local names:-Booby, Pajaro Bobo; Pajaro Bobo Prieto; Bobo
Prieto; Buguere; Bubi; Bubi Chaleco; Fou Noir (Lesser Antilles).
Description (S. 1. leucogaster):-Breast and abdomen white; re-
mainder of plumage dark chocolate-brown; bill and feet yellowish;
naked skin of face and throat yellowish or bluish.
Length 29 ins.; wing 14-16.5; tail 7.5; bill 3.75; tarsus 1.75.
Immature birds have entire plumage dusky brown, lighter below;
Range:-Throughout the West Indies. Also breeds on extra-
limital islands in the Caribbean Sea and on islands in the tropical
Atlantic (S. 1. leucogaster).
RED-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula sula)
Local names:-Booby; White Booby; Pajaro Bobo; PAjaro Bobo
Blanco; Bobo Blanco; Bubi; Bubi Blanco; Fou Blanc (Lesser
Description (S. s. sula):-Mostly white; primaries, primary coverts
outer webs and tips of secondaries blackish brown or ashy; naked
skin of face blue, of throat slaty or black; bill bluish, reddish at
base and brownish at tip; feet red.
Length 28 ins.; wing 14-16; tail 8.5; bill 3.5; tarsus 1.5.
Immature birds are dull brown, later becoming paler on head and
underparts and acquiring a white rump and tail, individuals appar-
ently reaching full development in this plumage.
Range:-The Antilles and extralimital islands in the Caribbean
Sea. Also breeds on islands in the tropical Atlantic. Nests, in the
West Indies, on Little Swan Island, Little Cayman, Navassa and
Desecheo Islands and on some of the smaller Grenadines (S. s. sula).
Cormorants comprise a rather large family of some thirty species
of sea birds and are widely distributed throughout the world. The
most remarkable species is the Flightless Cormorant (Nannopterum
harrisi) of the Galapagos Islands. The other members of this
family are all usually regarded under the genus Phalacrocorax, of
which two species occur in the West Indies. Cormorants are large,
long-winged and long-necked water birds and cannot well be mis-
taken, though in flight they somewhat resemble ducks. They do
not plunge into the sea for fish after the manner of boobies or pelicans
but pursue their prey under water.
The two cormorants that occur in the West Indies are decidedly
local in this region. The Double-crested Cormorant is rare among
the Bahamas but common off Cuba, being particular abundant off
the south coast and about the Isle of Pines where it has been found
nesting. The Bigua Cormorant is rare in Cuba where it is confined
chiefly to fresh-water lakes and rivers. It is abundant on Watling
Island in the Bahamas, where it frequents the large inland salt-
water lakes, though I never observed it on the coasts of this island.
Nesting:-The rough, somewhat bulky nests, are placed in trees,
usually mangroves, about 15 feet or less above the ground.
Eggs 2-4, bluish green thickly covered with a white chalky deposit
(58 x 37 mm.,-P. auritus; 53.5 x 34 mm.,-P. olivaceus).
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Local names:-Cormorant; Cormoril; Corda; Corda de Mar.
Description (P. a. auritus):-General color glossy greenish black;
mantle, scapulars and wing-coverts greyish bronze, the feathers
margined with black; in nuptial plumage, a tuft of black feathers on
each side of the head; naked skin of head orange; bill gray; feet
Length about 30 ins.; wing 11.5-13;tail6; bill 2.3;tarsus 2.3. Young
birds are duller and browner above and the underparts are grayish
white, becoming dusky on the abdomen.
Range:-Cuba, the Isle of Pines (found nesting) and among the
Bahama Islands (recorded from Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini
Islands, Andros, New Providence and Cay Lobos; one record from
Guadeloupe; also widely through the United States and southern
Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains. North American birds
migrate south at least to Cuba (banded specimen taken) and
probably elsewhere in the West Indies in winter (P. a. auritus).7
BIGUA CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax olivaceus)
Local names:-Cormorant; Cormoril; Corda; Coria de Agua Dulce.
Description (P. o. mexicanus):-Glossy black; sides of face and
throat and scattered feathers on neck, when in nuptial plumage,
white; bill brownish; skin of throat yellow; feet black.
Length 27 ins.; wing 10-11.3; tail 6.5; bill 2; tarsus 2.
The young differ from the adults much as do those of P. auritus.
Range:-Cuba, Isle of Pines and Watling Island (found nesting)
in the Bahamas. Doubtfully observed at Cat, Eleuthera and Long
Island. Occurs also in the southern United States south to Nica-
ragua (P. o. mexicanus).
7 The resident West Indian bird is called P. a. floridanus on the basis of averaging
slightly smaller than the nominate form. I follow Sharpe (Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., Vol.
XXVI, p. 371) in not recognizing this race, as individuals can not always be distinguished
(Snake-birds or Darters)
Snake-birds comprise a small family of only four species, one
occurring in the New World, one in Africa and Madagascar, one in
southern Asia south to Celebes, and one in Australia and New
Guinea. They are closely related to the Cormorants from which
they can be distinguished by their long, thin necks and pointed,
rather than hooked bills.
The Snake-bird occurs in the West Indies only in Cuba and the
Isle of Pines, in which rather restricted range it is not uncommon
locally. Isolated pairs may be found here and there about the
borders of lakes and rivers, usually perched on some bush or low
stub, sunning themselves with wings outstretched after the manner
of a Turkey Vulture. Like Cormorants, these peculiar birds are
expert divers, pursuing their prey under water with agility. When
alarmed they have a habit of plunging into the water, or, if swim-
ming, of submerging their body so that only the head and neck are
visible, thus presenting a decidedly snake-like appearance.
Nesting:-The Snake-bird nests in.small colonies, often in a
rookery in company with herons, ibises or cormorants. The nest is
loosely constructed of sticks and is placed at moderate elevations in
trees or bushes. Eggs, 3-5, usually 4, bluish white, thinly covered
with a chalky deposit, but soon becoming nest stained (52.5 x 35 mm.).
AMERICAN SNAKE-BIRD OR DARTER (Anhinga anhinga)
Local names:-Marbella; Coria Real.
Description:-General color glossy greenish black; sides of mantle
and lesser wing-coverts spotted and scapulars streaked with silvery
white; tail tipped with whitish; upper mandible dusky; lower man-
dible bright yellow; gular sac orange; feet dusky anteriorlyy), the
posterior parts and webs yellow; iris carmine. The female differs
in having the head, neck and underparts brownish, more or less
mottled on the neck with buffy. In the breeding season the males
have white, plume-like feathers on nape and neck, forming a mane.
Length 35 ins.; wing 12.5-14; tail 9.75; bill 3.25; tarsus 1.5.
Immature birds resemble the female but are brown above and the
underparts are pale brownish-white.
Range:-Tropical and subtropical America, including Cuba and
the Isle of Pines.
The birds of this tropical family are the most aerial of sea birds,
their wing expanse being greater in proportion to the weight of their
bodies than is that of any other bird. They feed on fish and offal
which they themselves pick up or procure, after the manner of
skuas and jaegers, by robbing other sea birds. There are only five
species all belonging to the same genus.
Frigate-birds are usually observed soaring without apparent effort
high above the sea. On these occasions the forked tail is usually
closed and appears pointed but is occasionally opened and shut, a
habit which ias bestowed on the species the name of "Scissors-tail."
Occasionally they will swoop down with incredible swiftness to
grasp an object on or near the surface or perhaps to attack some
wandering booby in an effort to force it to disgorge its prey, but
they apparently never alight on the water. As one approaches a
colony of frigate birds one is struck by what appear to be large, red
blossoms on the trees and bushes but which prove to be the inflated
pouches of the males.
These sea birds are common throughout the West Indies where
they are well known to every one.
Nesting:-In colonies, the large rough nests being placed on the
ground or in bushes. Eggs, 1-2, chalky white, (68.5 x 46.5 mm.).
AMERICAN FRIGATE-BIRD (Fregata magnificens)
Local names:-Frigate Bird; Man-o'-War Bird; Hurricane Bird;
Weather Bird; Scissors-tail; Cobbler; Rabihorcado; Rabijunco;
Tijerilla; Tijereta; Fragata; Fr6gate; Ciseaux.
Description (F. m. magnificens):-Male:-Plumage entirely black;
the upperparts glossed with purple; bill bluish; feet black; distensible
pouch on throat red.
Female:-Resembles male but lesser wing-coverts brownish and
breast and upper abdomen white; averages larger.
Length 40 ins.; wing 25-26; tail 17; bill 5; tarsus 1.
The immature is white below and has a white head.
Range:-Throughout the West Indies, breeding on some of the
smaller cays of the Bahama Islands (Cay Verde, Bimini Is., Atwood
Cay, Seal Cay, etc.) Cuba (Puerto Escondido) Isle of Pines, Do-
minican Republic (San Lorenzo Bay), Navassa, Little Swan Island,
HERONS AND BITTERNS
Mona, and Desecheo Island and on some of the Grenadines. Also
ranges throughout tropical American waters (F. m. magnificent).8
(Herons and Bitterns)
Herons comprise a large family of world-wide distribution and
are well represented in the West Indies. All the twelve species
found in North America occur in the Antilles though the American
Bittern is merely a rare winter visitor to this region. The family
is so well known that an account of the habits of the various species
seems almost superfluous. Herons procure their food by wading
out in shallow water where they stand motionless until some unwary
fish or amphibian approaches near enough to be caught by a lighten-
ing thrust of the bill. They fly with the head and neck drawn back
onto the shoulders, not outstretched. In the West Indies, the
larger herons are often shot and eaten by the natives and have
thus become shyer than they are in the north.
The Great Blue Heron is one of the rarer herons in the West
Indies, although it is seen fairly frequently about the larger swamps,
being usually found near or on the coast. The majority of these
herons that occur on the islands during the winter months are evi-
dently migrants from North America, the species being known to
nest only in or about Cuba and in Jamaica.
Nesting:-In colonies; nest a rough platform of sticks in trees.
Eggs light, dull blue (65 x 45 mm.).
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
Local names:-Gray Gaulin; White Gaulin; Arsnicker; Morgan;
Garz6n Cenizo; Garz6n Blanco; Garz6n Ceniciento; Garcilote;
Garcilote Blanco; Garcilote Ceniciento; Gironde; Crabier Noir;
Description (A. h. herodias):-Upperparts light blue-gray, the
remiges darker, the scapulars much lengthened and paler; bend of
wing chestnut, neck violet-gray; throat, cheeks and centre of crown
white; sides of crown and nape black, the feathers lengthened to
8 The bird from the Galapagos Islands is regarded by some authors as distinct from the
West Indian bird, the latter being known as F. m. rothschildi Mathews.
HERONS AND BITTERNS
form a black occipital crest; entire underparts as far as under tail-
coverts whitish, heavily streaked with blackish; feathers of lower
fore neck much lengthened, narrow and plume-like; under tail-
coverts white; thighs rufous; bill yellow; the upper mandible darker;
legs and feet black; naked skin of lores blue.
There is what the author considers to be a white phase (Ardeaocci-
dentalis repens Auct) of the Great Blue Heron in the West Indies,
the bird being entirely white; intermediates also occur in this region.'
Length about 45 ins.; wing 17-18.5; tail 7; bill 5.5; tarsus 6.5.
GREAT BLUE HERON
The immature (normal phase) differs from the adults in lacking
the plumes and in having the entire pileum black; neck dull gray,
washed with ochraceous buff; streaks on underparts duller.
Range:-Breeds in Cuba, the Isle of Pines and Jamaica; also in
southern Canada from Alberta to the Gulf of St. Lawrence southeast
to Northeastern South Carolina. Occurs also throughout the West
Indies south to Trinidad, Curacao and Panama (A. h. herodias).1'
9 The Great Blue and Great White Herons behave as one species in the West Indies
and also in Yucatan (See American Mus. Novitates No. 235, 1926).
10 Although West Indian birds may represent a distinct race, we have no evidence at
present that they do. I have examined the type of A. h. adoxa Oberholser from Curacao,
which is almost certainly a migrant from North America.
HERONS AND BITTERNS
The American Egret was formerly common in the Greater Antilles
but plume hunters have decimated them to such an extent that at
present they must be classed as rare in most of their West Indian
range. They occur chiefly along the coast, though I have observed
them inland in fresh-water swamps. Like the Great Blue Heron
they have become very wary.
Nesting:-American Egrets nest in colonies or "rookeries," the
rough platform nests being placed at moderate elevations, usually
in mangroves. Eggs, 3-4, pale bluish green (56.5 x 40.5 mm.).
AMERICAN EGRET (Casmerodius albus)
Local names:-White Gaulin; White Morgan; Garz6n; Garz6n
Blanco; Garza Blanca; Garza Real; Crabier Blanc.
Description (C. a. egretta):-Plumage entirely white, in the breed-
ing season with long straight plumes growing from interscapular
region and extending about six inches beyond the tail; bill a vivid
yellow, the culmen usually black near the tip; legs and feet black.
Length 40 ins.; wing 15-17; tail 16; bill 4.5; tarsus 5.75.
The immature resembles the non-breeding adult.
Range:-Tropical and temperate America. Nests on the more
important Greater Antilles (Cuba, the Isle of Pines, Hispaniola,
Jamaica, Puerto Rico) and on St. Croix, Antigua and Barbuda and
probably on some of the larger Bahama Islands (C. a. egretta).
The beautiful Snowy Egret is commoner than the American Egret
in the West Indies but is nevertheless one of the rarer herons. It
seems to be most numerous on Puerto Rico and St. Croix; it is very
rare in Jamaica. This egret resembles the immature Little Blue
Heron from which it can be distinguished even from a distance by
its black legs and yellow feet.
Nesting:-In rookeries often in company with other species. The
nests and eggs resemble those of the Little Blue Heron. They are
usually found at moderate elevations in mangroves. Eggs, 2-5 pale
bluish green (43 x 32.5 mm.).
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
Local names:-White Gaulin; Garza Blanca; Garza de Rizos;
Description (Egretta t. thula):-Plumage entirely white, in the
breeding season with a train of long recurved plumes growing from
HERONS AND BITTERNS
the interscapular region and reaching to or just beyond the end of
the tail; a tuft of plumes grows also from the nape and fore-neck;
bill black, the basal portion of lower mandible yellow; legs black,
greenish posteriorly; toes yellow.
Length 22 ins.; wing 9.5-10; tail 3.5; bill 3.25; tarsus 3.75.
The immature resembles the non-breeding adult.
Range:-Coast of southeastern United States and widely through
Central and South America. Breeds, in the West Indies, in Cuba,
the Isle of Pines, Jamaica," Hispaniola, Puerto Rico" and St.
Croix." Recorded from St. Thomas and, casually, from the Lesser
Antilles (Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica, Guade-
loupe, Antigua, Barbuda and Montserrat); probably nests on Antigua
and Barbuda. Rare in the Bahama Islands, where recorded from
Grand Bahama and Inagua (Egretta t. thula).
The Reddish Egret is one of the rare West Indian herons. In
Cuba it is said to be not uncommon in the vicinity of Cochinos
Bay, on the south coast, but I never observed it in the Zapata
Swamp nor in any other part of the island. In Hispaniola it is very
rare but seems to be fairly well established in the Bahama Islands.
Nesting:-In rookeries, usually in company with other species.
The nests are placed at low or moderate elevations in bushes or small
trees and resemble those of other herons. Eggs, 2-5, pale bluish
green (51 x 37.5 mm.).
REDDISH EGRET (Dichromanassa rufescens)
Local names:-Gaulin; Garza; Crabier.
Description (D. r. rufescens):-General color slaty gray, darker on
wings and tail; head and neck vinaceous cinnamon; a tuft of rufescent
plumes on nape and on fore-neck; the adult with about thirty slate-
colored aigrettee" plumes growing from the interscapular region
and extending beyond the tail; terminal half of bill black, basal
half pale flesh-color; tarsi ultramarine-blue; legs and feet blackish.
There is a white phase resembling the above but entirely white,
though the tips of the primaries are sometimes finely speckled with
Length 28 ins.; wing 12.5-13.5; tail 4.5; bill 4; tarsus 5.5.
The immature lacks the plumes of the adult; legs and feet dusky.
Range:-Cuba, the Isle of Pines, Hispaniola and the Bahama
I Nesting records.
HERONS AND BITTERNS
Islands (recorded from Grand Bahama, Abaco, New Providence,
Watling and the Caicos Islands); formerly occurred on Jamaica.
The present form is also found on the coasts of Mexico (excluding
the Yucatan Peninsula and neighboring islands) and the Gulf States
(D. r. rufescens).
Of the various West Indian herons, the Louisiana Heron ranks
third in abundance but is not found in the Lesser Antilles nor in
the Virgin Islands. Except in Puerto Rico, where it is rather rare,
this heron is common throughout its West Indian range. It fre-
quents coastal lagoons and rivers and, apart from its distinctive
coloration, may readily be distinguished from other species by its
long and slender bill and neck.
Nesting:-In rookeries, often in company with other species.
The rough nests, constructed like those of other herons, are placed
at low or moderate elevations in trees or bushes, usually mangroves.
Eggs, 3-5, pale bluish green (44 x 32.5 mm.).
LOUISIANA HERON (Hydranassa tricolor)
Local names:-Gaulin; Switching-neck; Garza; Garza de Vientre
HERONS AND BITTERNS
Description (H. t. ruficollis):-General coloration dark slate, with
a violaceous tinge on hind neck; occipital crest mostly white; scapu-
lar and interscapular plumes straw-colored, sometimes darker, more
brownish; rump, most of upper tail-coverts, lower breast, abdomen
and under tail-coverts, white; chin and throat white, the latter
washed with rufous, this color and some white also appearing on
fore neck; bill bluish at base, terminal portion black; legs and feet
Length 25 ins.; wing 9-10.25; tail 3; bill 3.8; tarsus 3.6.
The immature bird has the slate-color of the head and neck re-
placed by rufous; wings also washed with this color; no plumes.
Range:-The Bahama Islands and Greater Antilles east to Puerto
Rico; also southeastern United States, central Lower California,
Central America and northwestern South America (H. t. ruficollis).
The Little Blue Heron is second in abundance only to the Little
Green Heron and is common throughout the West Indies. Like the
other species of the family it particularly favors mangrove swamps
and lagoons bordering the coast, but is frequently seen along rivers
and inland swamps. The immature bird is sometimes difficult to
distinguish in the field from the Snowy Egret, but the olive-yellow
coloring of the feet and legs constitutes an excellent field-character.
Nesting:-In rookeries, frequently in company with other species.
Nest a rough and, at times, surprisingly small platform of sticks
placed at low or moderate elevations in bushes or trees, usually
mangroves. Eggs, 3-5, pale bluish green (44 x 33.5 mm.).
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Florida caerulea)
Local names:-Gaulin; Blue Gaulin; White Gaulin (immat.); Garza
Azul; Garza Comfin; Garza Pinta; Garza Blanca (immat.); Crabier;
Crabier Noir; Crabier Blanc (immat.).
Description:-Head and neck rufous-chestnut; feathers on crown
and nape lengthened and narrow; rest of plumage dark slate-gray;
fore neck and interscapular feathers much lengthened, the latter
reaching to, or just beyond the end of the tail; basal portion of bill
and lores bluish, terminal portion of bill black; legs and feet greenish
Length 22 ins.; wing 10-11; tail 4; bill 3; tarsus 3.75.
The immature bird, which is known to breed, is white but with
the tips of the primaries slate-colored, the bird later becoming
washed with this color.
HERONS AND BITTERNS 25
Range:-Throughout the West Indies; also breeds in the south-
eastern United States and widely through Central and South
The Little Green Heron is by far the most abundant of its family
in the West Indies. A visit to any swamp, river, or pond should
result in seeing some of these well known birds and they are not
infrequently encountered a considerable distance from water, even
well up in the mountains. In large swamps, such as the Cienaga de
Zapata in Cuba, they literally swarm. This little heron has the
habit of standing motionless until approached too closely when it
LITTLE GREEN HERON
leaps into the air with a disconcerting squawk, rarely flying, however,
more than a few yards at a time.
Nesting:-Green Herons nest singly or in small colonies, rarely
associating with other species. The nesting site is in a bush or tree
(rarely in reeds) usually in some swamp, though not infrequently
in open cultivated country or even in towns (e.g. Kingstown, St.
Vincent). The nests are rather small and roughly constructed of
sticks. Eggs, 3-5, pale bluish green (38 x 29.5 mm.).
LITTLE GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) (See also page 29)
Local names:-Gaulin; Little Gaulin; Least Pond Gaulin; Green
Gaulin; Water Witch; Poor Joe; "Bitlin"; Aguaita Caiman; Mar-
tinete; Matuango; Caga-leche; Garza Morada; Cangrito; Cuaco;
Crabier; Crabier Vert Tachet6; "Qui-au"; "Cra-cra"; "Rac-rac";
Valet de Caiman.
HERONS AND BITTERNS
Description (B. v. maculatus):-Pileum and stripe below eye a
glossy greenish black, the occipital feathers much lengthened; a
narrow line from chin to fore neck white more or less mixed with
dark brown; rest of head and neck rufous-chestnut; back a beautiful
metallic glossy green, scapulars and interscapulars much lengthened;
wing-coverts glossy green, margined with white or buffy; primaries
dark greenish gray; tail green; rest of underparts sooty gray; bill
greenish black, paler below; legs and feet greenish yellow. A
rufescent phase "brunescens" occurs in Cuba.
Length 15 ins.; wing 6.5-7; tail 2.25; bill 2.5; tarsus 2.
The immature lacks the plumes and is much duller; entire under-
parts, except chin and centre of throat, white, with a buffy wash,
heavily streaked with dusky.
The Bahaman race is paler than that occurring in the Antilles.
Range:-Throughout the Greater and Lesser Antilles; also east
coast of Central America and Guatemala south to Panama (B. v.
maculatus) and the Bahama Islands (B. v. bahamensis).
The West Indian status of the Black-crowned Night Heron is
rather uncertain, but it is said to breed in the Greater Antilles. It
has been proved recently by the taking of banded North American
specimens in the Dominican Republic that the numbers of these
herons are augmented in winter by the arrival of birds from the
north, though the present species is nowhere, and at no time, com-
mon in the West Indies.
Both the Night Herons are largely nocturnal in habits, resting
quietly in dense swampy thickets during the day and appearing at
dusk when they fly off to feed on the marshes. The note of the two
species is a characteristic "quark."
Nesting:-In colonies. The nests, which vary considerably in
size, resemble those of other herons. Those found in Puerto Rico
were situated about fifteen feet above the ground in mangroves.
Eggs, 3-5, pale bluish green (51.5 x 37 mm.).
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Local names:-Gaulin; Night Gaulin; Crab Catcher; GuanabS;
Guanabi Lominegro; GuanabA de la Florida; Yaboa; Yaboa Real;
Rey Congo; Gallinaza (immat.); Coq de Nuit; Coq d'Eau; Crabier.
Description (N. n. hoactli):-Forehead, supraloral stripe and en-
tire neck and underparts white or pale violet-gray; crown and
nape dark glossy green; lengthened feathers of mantle glossy green,
HERONS AND BITTERNS
lighter than crown; two or three white occipital plumes; rest of
upperparts, including wings and tail, ashy gray; upper mandible
black; central part of lower mandible flesh-color, greenish at base;
legs and feet yellow; lores greenish yellow.
Length 20 ins.; wing 10.5-12; tail 4; bill 2.75; tarsus 3.
The immature is brownish above, narrowly streaked with white,
particularly on the head; underparts white, boldly streaked with
Range:-Greater Antilles (Cuba, Isle of Pines, Hispaniola, Ja-
maica, and Puerto Rico), Lesser Antilles (Grenada, the Grenadines,
St. Vincent and Antigua) and the Bahama Islands (Grand Bahama,
Abaco, Andros, and Inagua Islands). Also widely in North, Central
and South America (N. n. hoactli).
-_ *1 '. . .
,,-- -,I, ------ ---
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron is the common night heron of
the West Indies and, being more diurnal than the preceding species,
is not infrequently encountered. In other respects the two birds
are similar in habits. They are usually found about the borders of
mangrove swamps, but, unlike other herons, are apparently averse
to wading and often search for their prey some distance from water.
They feed largely on crabs, frequently securing them at the very
entrances to their holes. The notes of the two species are barely
Nesting:-Like that of the preceding species in its choice of a
HERONS AND BITTERNS
nesting site, construction of its nest and color and size of its eggs,
but seldom nesting in colonies though occasionally one or two pairs
will be found nesting in a rookery among other herons.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
Local names:-Gaulin; Night Gaulin; Crab Catcher; Yaboa; Yaboa
Real; Guanabd; Guanabd Real; Rey Congo; Gallinaza (immat.);
"Quock"; Crabier; Crabier Gris; Coq de Nuit; Coq d'Eau.
Description (N. v. violacea):-General coloration bluish gray, the
wing-coverts and lengthened mantle plumes centered with blackish;
crown white, more or less washed with buff; several black and white
occipital plumes; a white band from below eye across ear-coverts;
rest of head black; bill black, sometimes yellow at base; lores green-
'ish yellow; feet greenish.
Length 20 ins.; wing 10.5-12.5; tail 4; bill 2.75; tarsus 3.75.
The immature resembles the young Black-crowned Night Heron
but differs in being darker, the crown being black streaked with
Range:-Southeastern United States south through Central
America and throughout the West Indies (N. v. violacea).
If one penetrates any of the larger fresh-water swamps of the
Greater Antilles, Least Bitterns are frequently flushed from the tall,
swamp grass. These small bitterns appear rather rail-like in the
field, though in habits they somewhat resemble the Little Green
Heron. When disturbed they often emit a protesting croak and
fly with dangling legs over the swamp to alight on the marsh a short
distance away, or, rather than flush, will turn towards an intruder
with bill pointed upwards in an attempt to simulate the surrounding
growth of rushes. Though prefering inland swamps, this species
may also be found in mangroves bordering the coast.
Nesting:-A remarkably small and slight structure of reed stems
and grasses placed in a clump of rushes or swamp grass usually
about a foot above the water. Eggs, 2-3, pale bluish white (31
x 23.5 mm.).
LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)
Local names:-"Bitlin"; Gaulin; Garcita; Martinete; Martinete
Chico; Martin Garcia; Crabier.
Description (I. e. exilis):-IMale:-Crown, back and tail glossy
greenish black; back of neck, most of greater wing-coverts and outer
webs of secondaries a rich rufous-chestnut; lesser wing-coverts and
HERONS AND BITTERNS
part of greater wing-coverts buffy; entire underparts, with exception
of a black patch on either side of breast, white, washed with buffy,
particularly on the breast; upper mandible brownish; lower mandible
Female:-Siinilar to male but crown and tail brownish black;
back dark reddish brown; wash on underparts darker.
Length 12 ins.; wing 4-5.25; tail 1.5; bill 1.75; tarsus 1.5.
Immature birds have the back more rufescent.
Range:-The Greater Antilles (Cuba, Isle of Pines, Hispaniola,
Jamaica, and Puerto Rico); also recorded from the Bahama Islands
(Grand Bahama and New Providence islands); also central and
eastern North America from Saskachewan and Nova Scotia south
to southern Mexico. Winters from southern Texas and the south-
eastern United States south to Brazil (I. e. exilis).12
LITTLE GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
Description (B. v. virescens):-The migratory North American
form averages larger than the resident race (wing 6.5-8, usually at
least 7 inches) and the rufescent neck is darker and is tinged with
12 The numbers of this species are probably augmented in winter by the arrival of
migrants from North America. These average darker than West Indian birds, a dark
phase predominating in the north, a paler phase in the West Indies.
13 North American individuals of the Great Blue Heron (A. A. herodias) and Black-
crowned Night Heron (N. n. hoactli) are known to winter in the West Indies, specimens
banded in the United States having later been recovered in the Greater Antilles.
Range:-Breeds in the eastern United States and southeastern
Canada (southern Ontario and Nova Scotia) south to eastern
Mexico and Florida. Probably not uncommon in the West Indies
in winter, but at present known definitely only from Hispaniola
and Puerto Rico (B. v. virescens).
AMERICAN BITTERN (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Local names:-Guanab4 Rojo; Ave Toro.
Description:-Pileum deep reddish brown, washed with black;
hind neck mostly golden buff; remainder of upperparts marbled
reddish brown, buffy and blackish; scapulars more or less widely
margined with buffy; primaries mostly dusky; chin and throat white,
with a median streak of buffy brown; sides of head golden brown;
a narrow buffy superciliary stripe; area about gape reddish brown;
a conspicuous black streak from side of throat to side of neck;
fore neck and upper breast white or whitish, heavily streaked with
wedge-shaped brownish markings; abdomen and under tail-coverts
almost immaculate buff; bill greenish yellow, the ridge dusky; feet
Length (variable) 28 ins.; wing 9.5-13.5; tail 3.5; bill 3; tarsus 3.5.
Young in first winter plumage resemble the adults.
Range:-Breeds widely throughout North America. Winters
south to Panama. Not uncommon winter resident in Cuba. Also
recorded from Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman, Swan Island and from
the Bahamas (New Providence). Should also be found in Hispa-
hiola and Jamaica, though records of its occurrence on these islands
Storks are found principally in the Old World there being only
three species known from the Americas. Of these the Wood Ibis
occurs in the West Indies where it is now extremely rare and local."
The Wood Ibis is rare and wary in the West Indies. I have come
across it on but one occasion when, in the heart of the great Zapata
Swamp in Cuba, one of these splendid birds flew past me, needless
to say unmolested, emitting at the time a curious croaking note.
14 Fragments of bones of a Jabiru, apparently the wide ranging J. mycteria, a Neo-
tropical species, have been found in Cuba.
This locality seems to be the last important stronghold of the Wood
Ibis in this region, for elsewhere in Cuba and Hispaniola it is on the
verge of extinction. This species flies with head and neck out-
stretched and when disturbed often soars high in the air.
Nesting:-In rookeries, often in company with herons. Nest a
rough platform placed in trees (frequently mangroves) at various
elevations but often high above the ground. Eggs, 3-5, dull white
(68 x 46 mm.).
WOOD IBIS (Mycteria americana)
Local names:-Cayama (Cuba); Faisan;
C6co (Dominican Re-
Description:-Head and upper neck bare (blackish); primaries,
primary coverts, secondaries and tail glossy greenish or purplish
black; rest of plumage white; bill yellowish; legs blue; toes blackish.
Length 40 ins.; wing 18-20; tail 6; bill 9.5; tarsus 8.
The immature bird has dusky brown feathers on the head and
neck and the rest of the plumage is more grayish.
Range:-Cuba, Isle of Pines (doubtful), Dominican Republic
(including Saona Island); casual in Jamaica. Also southeastern
United States and widely through Central and South America south
to the Argentine.
Two species of this interesting family, which is best represented
in the Old World, are resident in the West Indies but they are local
in distribution and are on the whole rather rare. Ibises can readily
be recognized at a distance by their flight, which is very character-
istic,-a few wing beats followed by a scale. In habits they are
gregarious living and nesting in colonies, sometimes in company
with herons. The two Antillean species are chiefly confined to
The Glossy Ibis is very locally distributed in Cuba, being almost
entirely confined to the Ci6naga de Zapata but at Lake Enriquillo,
the large salt lake in the Dominican Republic, and in several of the
larger swamps in the Republic of Haiti (eg. Etang Miragoane, Trou
Caiman) the species is decidedly common. These ibises are usually
observed in flocks and, in my experience, are not particularly wary.
They can be confused only with the Limpkin from which they can
readily be distinguished by smaller size, larger, more curved and
slender bill and different manner of flight.
Nesting:-A colony discovered at Trou Caiman, Haiti, in June,
were nesting in small trees from about twelve to twenty feet above
the ground. The nests are rough platforms of sticks like those of
herons. Eggs, 3-4, rather dark blue (52 x 37 mm.).
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
Local names:-C6co, C6co Oscuro; C6co Prieto; Pcheur; Flamant
Description (P. f. falcinellus):-Summer:-Head (except crown),
neck, upper mantle, lesser wing-coverts, scapulars and entire under-
parts chestnut; crown glossy green; rest of plumage strongly glossed
with green and purple; bill and feet dark olive brown.
Winter:-Chestnut coloring replaced by brownish black; head and
neck heavily streaked with white. The female is slightly smaller
than the male.
Length 23 ins.; wing 10-12; tail 4; bill 5; tarsus 3.5.
The immature resembles the adults in winter plumage but lacks
to a great extent the beautiful sheen to the feathers.
Range:-Cuba and Hispaniola; accidental on Inagua and Cay
Lobos (Bahama Is.) and a doubtful record from Puerto Rico. Also
locally in southern Florida, the Gulf States and Mexico and, widely,
in southern Europe and Asia, Africa and Madagascar (P. f. fal-
The White Ibis has always been much sought after by hunters in
the West Indies since its flesh is quite palatable. This persecution
has resulted in the species becoming much scarcer than formerly.
It is still fairly numerous in the larger swamps and among the
coastal cays of Cuba but is rare in Hispaniola, although it may still
be found without difficulty in the swamps at the head of Samana
Bay (Dominican Republic) and at Etang Miragoane (Republic of
Haiti). In Jamaica it is now very rare, there being no recent
records. At one time a rookery existed between Goat Island and
Reck Bay. The curved bill and black tipped wings will easily dis-
tinguish the White Ibis from the smaller white herons.
Nesting:-In colonies, frequently in company with herons. The
rough, platform nests are placed in trees or bushes at fairly low
elevations, and are composed of sticks and leaves. Eggs, 2-5,
usually 4, greenish or buffy white, handsomely marked with various
shades of brown (57.5 x 38.5 mm.).
WHITE IBIS (Guara alba)
Local names:-C6co; C6co Blanco; Gant Blanc.
Description:-White; tips of four outer primaries black, glossed
with bluish green; bill, bare skin of head, legs and feet orange-red;
iris pearl-blue. The female is slightly smaller than the male.
Length 25 ins.; wing 10.5-12.5; tail 4.25; bill 6; tarsus 4.
The immature has the head and neck white, streaked with grayish
brown; remainder of plumage white.
Range:-Cuba, Isle of Pines, Jamaica, Puerto Rico (accidental).
Also southern United States west to Lower California and south to
northern South America.
SCARLET IBIS (Guara rubra)
Description:-Plumage entirely scarlet, except distal portions of
the four outer primaries which are purplish black; bare skin about
eyes, lores, forehead, bill and feet more or less of a deep pink.
Length 22 ins.; wing 10; tail 3.5; bill 6; tarsus 3.25.
The immature resembles the young White Ibis but head and neck
darker,-light brown rather than whitish,-marked with streaks of
Range:-Tropical South America. Straggler to Cuba (one record),
Bahama Islands (somewhat doubtful) and Jamaica. No recent West
The spoonbills comprise a distinct group of water birds but are
closely related to the ibises, being considered by some authors as
merely a sub-family of the Threskiornithidae. Three genera, in-
cluding six species, are recognized and, of these, only one, the
Roseate Spoonbill, belonging to a monotypic genus, occurs in the
New World. In habits spoonbills are rather heron-like. In flight
they scale less frequently than do the ibises. They secure their
food, which is composed chiefly of small shell-fish, by immersing the
bill in shallow water and swinging it from side to side.
I ..- .. i .. .. .
The Roseate Spoonbill is one of the rarest, as well as one of the
most beautiful, of West Indian water birds. It is usually observed
singly, or in small groups, rarely occurring in flocks in this region.
A few may be found along the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola and on
Inagua Island in the Bahamas.
Nesting:-In rookeries, frequently in company with herons and
other water birds. The nests are usually placed in mangroves and
are composed of sticks, lined with twigs and leaves. Eggs, 2-5,
usually 3, dull white, heavily spotted with various shades of brown
(65 x 44 mm.).
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Ajaia ajaja)
Local names:-Spoonbill; Sevilla; Cuchareta; Spatule.
Description:-Head and throat bare, mostly greenish yellow; neck
and mantle white; tail buff; remainder of plumage pink; lesser
wing-coverts, upper and' under tail-coverts nearly crimson; bill
bluish green, greyish at base; feet pinkish, the claws brownish
black; iris carmine. The female is somewhat smaller than the male.
Length 25-31 ins.; wing 13.5-14.5; tail 3.75; bill 6.25; tarsus 4. The
immature resembles the adult, but head and throat more or less
completely feathered and the buffy and carmine coloring replaced
Range:-Cuba, Isle of Pines (casual?), Hispaniola (including
Gonave? and Saona islands), Inagua Island, Bahamas (a nesting
colony located here in early February). Formerly of casual occur-
rence in Jamaica, the Bimini Islands, and the Grenadines. Also
southeastern United States and central Mexico south to northern
Argentina and Chile.
Flamingoes comprise a small family of three genera, including six
forms, only one of which occurs in the West Indies. In habits they
are gregarious, living and nesting in large colonies. When feeding,
they wade out into shallow water, scrape up the mud and silt with
a dancing movement and, immersing head and neck, turn the bill
inwards. Their food, in the West Indies, consists largely of shells
of the genus Ceritheum which they swallow whole. Flamingoes are
now comparatively wary, seldom allowing one to approach within
gun-shot. Their notes are loud and goose-like.
Of all the water birds that occur in the West Indies the Flamingoes
are certainly the most striking and beautiful. An excursion that
results in a view of these splendid birds will amply repay one for
the discomfort involved in reaching their secluded haunts. They
are still common locally in the West Indies, though their range is
more restricted than formerly. I found Flamingoes in large num-
bers on Gonave Island, off Haiti, at Lake Lim6n in the Dominican
Republic and on Inagua Island in .the Bahamas.
Nesting:-Usually in immense colonies. The nests are built on
the ground and are composed mostly of mud which the birds scoop
up and plaster on with both bill and feet; at times sticks are also
used. They vary in height from four to twenty inches, (usually
about 10 inches), depending upon water conditions. Usually 1,
rarely 2, rough-surfaced, dull white eggs are laid (91 x 55 mm.).
Flamingoes nest in May and June.
GEESE AND DUCKS
ROSEATE FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber)
Local names:-Flamingo; "Fillymingo"; Flamenco; Flamant.
Description:-Light vermilion, paler on underparts and scapulars;
flanks carmine; primaries, primary coverts and secondaries black;
bill yellowish at base, terminal portion black; feet and legs red.
Length 45 ins.; wing 15-17; tail 6; bill 5.25; tarsus 13.
The immature is grayish white, more or less streaked with dusky
on wings and back; greater coverts tipped with brownish black.
Range:-Cuba, Isle of Pines (probably extirpated), Hispaniola,
Gonave and Beata islands, Bahama Islands (breeds on Andros,
i::. "," --, ,,
*^ ^ *^.:. *....: ,.
Abaco, Mariguana, Inagua and the Caicos Islands; a straggler to
New Providence, Long and Acklin islands). Formerly occurred on
Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and on Antigua and
probably other of the Lesser Antilles. Also breeds in Yucatan,
northeastern South America and on the Galapagos Islands.
(Swans, Geese and Ducks)
Ducks are of world-wide distribution and are well represented in
the West Indies, though only five species are resident, the remainder
GEESE AND DUCKS
being winter visitors from North America or stragglers from South
America. During the winter months one is afforded splendid shoot-
ing on many of the fresh-water lakes and swamps in the interior of
the larger islands. In mangrove lagoons along the coast, ducks are
much less abundant. Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Bahaman
Pintail and West Indian Tree Duck provide most of the sport. The
western shores of Andros Island, inland lakes of Watling Island,
Lake Ariguanabo (Cuba), the Pedro Ponds (Jamaica), Trou Caiman
and Lake Miragoane (Haiti), the swamps of the Sabana de Guerra
(Dominican Republic), and Cartagena and Guanica Lagoons (Puerto
Rico) are all excellent localities for ducks and other water-fowl.
Though it is possible that two, or even three, species of this genus
breed in the West Indies, at the present time only one, the West
Indian Tree Duck (D. arborea), is known to do so. This species,
formerly abundant, is now rather rare and local, its numbers having
been decimated both by hunters and mongoose. In the swamps of
the larger islands, such as the Ci6naga de Zapata in Cuba and the
Sabana de Guerra in the Dominican Republic, this species still
exists in abundance, being more numerous than is apparent to the
casual visitor to such places, since tree ducks are largely nocturnal
in habits, frequenting dense swampy thickets, usually mangroves,
during the day.
The West Indian Tree Duck may be recognized by its large size
and goose-like appearance. When in flight it utters a shrill whistle,
from which it derives its local name of "Whistling Duck." In the
Spanish-speaking republics these ducks are not infrequently met
with in captivity, in which state they appear to thrive very well.
The genus Dendrocygna, composed of some eight species, consti-
tutes a distinct subfamily somewhat intermediate between the geese
and the ducks. In addition to the West Indian species, the White-
headed and Black-bellied Tree Ducks have occurred on these islands,
but these, in view of present information, should be regarded merely
as stragglers to this region.
Nesting:-The West Indian Tree Duck builds its nest in various
situations,-in a hollow tree or stump, on the limb of a large tree,
among a cluster of bromeliads, or, like the majority of other ducks,
on the ground. The nest is composed of grasses, twigs and leaves
and is not lined with down. Eggs, 4-14, milky white in color
(55 x 40 mm.).
GEESE AND DUCKS
WEST INDIAN TREE DUCK (Dendrocygna arborea)
Local names;-Whistling Duck; Whistler; Mangrove Duck; Ya-
guasa; Chiriria; Vingeon; "Gingeon"; Canard Siffleur.
Description;-Anterior portion of crown chestnut-brown, becoming
darker on occiput and extending as a well defined stripe along the
nape; sides of head grayish, more or less suffused with buff; chin and
throat white, slightly washed with buffy; lower neck with narrow
blackish streaks; mantle brown, the feathers broadly edged with
tawny; rump and upper tail-coverts black; tail dark brown; wings
brownish black; quills grayish at base; feathers of upper breast
WEST INDIAN TREE DUCK
brown at base, tawny on outer margins; remainder of underparts
White, or buffy white, heavily spotted on the abdomen and, particu-
larly, on the lower breast and under tail-coverts with blackish; sides
and flanks heavily barred with blackish; legs and feet black.
Length5 22 ins.; wing 10-11; tail 3.75; bill 2; tarsus 2.25.
Range:-The Greater Antilles (Cuba, Isle of Pines, Hispaniola,
Ile a Vache, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and
Virgin Gorda), the Lesser Antilles, (Barbuda, Antigua and probably
casually on other islands,-eg. St. Kitts and Gaudeloupe), the
Bahama Islands (Andros, Watling and Inagua and possibly other of
the larger islands). The species is confined to the West Indies.
15 In this family the males are larger than the females.
GEESE AND DUCKS
The white cheeks and light brown tail of the Bahaman Pintail
easily distinguish this from any other West Indian duck. The spe-
cies is abundant on many of the inland lakes and swamps of His-
paniola and Puerto Rico and on the southern Bahama Islands: it is
less common on the more northern islands of the Bahamas. Among
the Virgin Islands and on the northern Lesser Antilles it is not
infrequently encountered. Elsewhere in the West Indies this duck
either does not occur or is merely a rare straggler. This pintail
frequents salt-water lagoons along the coast but prefers inland
fresh-water swamps in which to feed.
__ -_-- _.- .
Nesting:-The roughly constructed nest is composed of grasses
and is placed on the ground, usually in, or about the borders of
swamps, being often situated among mangrove roots. Eggs, 5-12,
reddish cream or buffy (51 x 36 mm.).
BAHAMAN PINTAIL (Dafila bahamensis)
Local names:-Summer Duck; White-head; White-throat; White-
jaw; Brass-wing; Pato de la Orilla; Pato de Florida; Canard TUte
Description (D. b. bahamensis):-Upper portion of head and neck,
upper back, breast and abdomen light grayish brown, heavily
spotted, particularly on upper back and underparts, with blackish;
sides of head and neck, chin and throat immaculate snowy white;
lower back and rump blackish; upper and under tail-coverts tawny;
GEESE AND DUCKS
tail light fawn-color, paler, more whitish, towards the tip; scapulars
and tertials blackish, margined with tawny; lesser wing-coverts
sooty brown; speculum a beautiful, glossy emerald-green, bordered
by black; outer webs of secondaries and tertials more or less broadly
edged or tipped with fawn-color or tawny; bill dark slate; triangular
patch at base of upper mandible red or orange-yellow; feet brown-
Length 19 ins.; wing 8-10; tail 4.75; bill 1.75; tarsus 1.25.
Range:-Cuba (one record), Hispaniola, including Beata Island,
Jamaica (doubtful), Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (recorded from
St. Croix, St. Thomas and Virgin Gorda); also more northern Lesser
Antilles (recorded from Anguilla, St. Barts, St. Kitts, Barbuda,
Antigua and Guadeloupe) and Bahama Islands (recorded from
Abaco, Andros, Watling, Acklin, Long, Great and Little Inagua and
the Caicos Islands). Also occurs in northeastern South America
(D. b. bahamensis).
The Wood Duck is known to breed in the West Indies only in
Cuba, where it frequents the fresh water lakes and swamps of the
interior, but particularly rivers and streams. Formerly it was quite
abundant on the island, but of late years has become rather scarce,
having been killed off by native hunters as its flesh is delicious.
SWith the possible exception of the Mandarin Duck (A. galericulata)16
bf China and Japan, which is more gaily colored, the Wood Duck
is' the most beautiful of its family.
'Nesting:-The Wood Duck has been found nesting in Cuba in
broken-off palm stumps and in fallen logs. The nest is composed
of rotten debris and down from the parent bird, leaves and feathers
being often added. Eggs, 8-14, white or buffy (52 x 40 mm.).
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)
Description:-Male:-Crown, lores, ear-coverts and nape metallic
green with purple reflections; greenish purple and white occipital
feathers much lengthened; a narrow white stripe passes from base
of culmen through the eye; chin and throat, a band passing up neck
and another to nape, snowy white; rest of head glossy purple slightly
tinged with green; upper breast and flanks purplish chestnut, the
16 I prefer to regard the Mandarin and Wood Ducks as congeneric, following the earlier
authors, though both species are now separated under monotypic genera (Aix and
GEESE AND DUCKS
former finely spotted with white; a black and white band in front
of wing; lower breast and abdomen white or whitish; sides buffy,
finely vermiculated with black, the tips of the feathers boldly barred
black and white; back greenish brown; tail purplish black; under
tail-coverts sooty with slight green or purplegloss; outer webs of
primaries silvery gray; remainder of wings glossy purplish blue;
scapulars mostly black; base of culmen scarlet fading on sides of
upper mandible to yellow; rest of bill black; feet dull yellow, the
Female and immature:-Throat and stripe through eye white, the
bird appearing "spectacled"; sides of head gray; entire upperparts
brownish, slightly glossed with green or purple; primaries as in male;
primary coverts glossy bluish purple, tipped with white; upper
breast brownish with buffy white spots; remainder of underparts
white or whitish.
Length 18.5 ins.; wing 8.5-9.5; tail 5; bill 1.3; tarsus 1.4.
Range:-Cuba; of accidental occurrence in Jamaica, and of doubt-
ful occurrence in Hispaniola. Also ranges widely through the
United States and southern Canada.
The two species of this genus that occur in the West Indies are
very different both in appearance and in habits from any of the other
GEESE AND DUCKS
West Indian ducks. They very seldom take to flight when alarmed,
preferring to dive at the least hint of danger, with the result that a
hunter's bag rarely includes either a Ruddy or a Masked Duck.
They are not, however, uncommon, though decidedly local in distri-
bution. In their West Indian range the Ruddy Duck is most nu-
merous in southwestern Puerto Rico (Guanica and Cartagena
lagoons), while the Masked Duck is commonest in Cuba and Jamaica.
The Ruddy Duck occurs on fresh-water lakes and in swamps and is
rarely found on salt-water lagoons along the coast. The Masked
Duck is more generally distributed and is not infrequently en-
countered on small cattle ponds. It occurs also in dense mangrove
swamps, although in such locations is rarely seen. The white
speculum will easily distinguish this species from the Ruddy Duck.
MASKED DUCK (WINTER)
Nesting:-The nest of the Ruddy Duck is a rough mass of sedges
and grasses, not lined with down, usually placed in a clump of sedges
growing in shallow water. The eggs, 4-12, are remarkably large for
'the size of the bird and are white or buffy-white (63.5 x 49 mm.).
The nest of the Masked Duck is very similar being composed of
rushes and reed stems with no lining of down. Eggs, 3-4, white
with a faint bluish or buffy tinge (60 x 46 mm.).
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Local names:-Rubber Duck; Diving Teal; Red Diver; Chorizo;
Pato Chorizo; Pato Espinoso; Pato Rojo; Pato Criollo; Coucouraime.
Description:-Male:-Upper part of head and nape black; sides of
head and chin white; rest of head and neck, back, scapulars, upper
tail-coverts (which are very short), sides and flanks rufous-chestnut;
underparts silvery-white, the basal portions of the feathers brownish
gray, presenting a rather mottled effect; wings, lower back, rump
and tail (which is stiff and pointed) sooty brown; bill and legs grayish
GEESE AND DUCKS
blue. In eclipse plumage the male resembles the female, but crown
black and cheeks white; upperparts and throat more or less dis-
tinctly washed with rufous.
Female and immature:-Upperparts dark sooty-brown, the feath-
ers narrowly barred with buffy white or, on the crown, with reddish
brown; tail, sooty brown; sides of head whitish, a brownish streak
from gape to nape; chin white; throat grayish; remainder of under-
parts silvery white; the feathers brown basally.
Length 15 ins.; wing 5.1-5.5;1 tail 3 (very variable); bill 1.5;
Range:-The Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico,
St. Croix); Lesser Antilles (Barbados, Grenada, the Grenadines, St.
Vincent, .Antigua and St. Kitts); Bahama Islands (Watling and
Inagua; probably migrant from North America). Also widely
through North America south to Guatemala.
MASKED DUCK (Oxyura dominica)19
Local names:-Quail Duck; Squat Duck; Pato Chorizo; Pato
Chico; Pato Criollo; Pato Agostero; Canard Zombi.
Description:-Male:-Forepart of head black, rest of head and
neck rusty cinnamon; upper back the same but feathers centered
with black, giving a striped effect; lower back and rump dark brown
spotted with black; tail blackish, similar in shape to that of the
Ruddy Duck; wings sooty brown, the coverts edged with rufous;
a conspicuous white speculum; rusty cinnamon of chest shading to
buffy on posterior underparts, the bases of the feathers brownish
as in the preceding species; bill bluish; tarsi brownish black. ;
Female and immature:-Pileum brownish black; stripe through
upper part of eye and another below eye buffy white; stripe through
lower portion of eye and another from gape through checks brownish
black; chin and throat buffy white; neck buffy; a white speculum;
tail and upper tail-coverts sooty brown; breast and abdomen buffy,
the feathers brownish at base.
Length 14 ins.; wing 5.25-5.75; tail 4 (variable); bill 1.35; tarsus 1.
Range:-Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Grand Cayman; Puerto Rico
17 North American birds show a wing-measurement of 5.3-6.
Is The West Indian Ruddy Duck averages slightly smaller than the North American
bird. The difference, which is but 5 per cent or less, is in the author's opinion entirely
too slight to justify subspecific separation, although the two birds have recently been
regarded as two distinct races.
19 The Masked Duck is usually and, in my opinion, unnecessarily placed in a mono-
typic genus, Nomonyx (viz., N. dominicus).
GEESE AND DUCKS
(now perhaps extirpated). Of casual occurrence on Barbados.
Also widely through the tropical portions of South and Central
Of the many migratory species of this family which have from
time to time been recorded from the West Indies, only two, the
Blue-winged Teal and Lesser Scaup, are common winter residents.
Few, if any, of the remainder are likely to be seen by the visitor to
these islands. Wild-fowlers should be on the watch for any unusual
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
Description (B. c. canadensis):-Head and neck black, the throat
and cheeks white; mantle and wings grayish brown, the feathers
with paler edges; quills, central part of rump, inner upper tail-
coverts and tail blackish; border of rump, lower and outer upper
tail-coverts white; underparts brownish gray, edged with whitish,-
darker on the sides; lower abdomen and under tail-coverts white;
bill and feet black.
Length 38 ins.; wing 15.5-21; tail 6; bill 2.25; tarsus 3.25.
The immature resembles the adult but is smaller and duller;
white cheek and throat markings less well defined and more or less
speckled with black.
, Range:-Breeds widely through northern North America. Winters
chiefly in the United States. Straggler to Jamaica and, very doubt-
fully, to Barbados (B. c. canadensis).
BRANT OR BRENT GOOSE (Branta bernicla)
Description (B. b. hrota):-Head, neck and fore part of body black;
a broken white streak on each side of neck; mantle and wing-coverts
sooty brown edged with lighter grayish brown; primaries, primary
coverts, secondaries, center of rump, central upper tail-coverts and
tail blackish; outer rump, lower and outer upper tail-coverts white;
breast and sides gray, edged with whitish; lower abdomen and under
tail-coverts white; thighs dusky; bill and feet black.
Length 27 ins.; wing 12-14.5; tail 4.25; bill 1.2; tarsus 2.3.
20 The Black Duck (Anas rubripes) has been recorded from Cuba, Jamaica and Bar-
bados and the Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) from Jamaica. These records are
considered very doubtful. The Muscovy Duck, a wide ranging Neotropical species, has
been vaguely reported from this region (Jamaica, Hispaniola), but the records probably
refer to domestic birds.
GEESE AND DUCKS
The immature is browner with conspicuous white margins to the
wing-coverts; secondaries tipped with white; white streak on neck
nearly, if not entirely, lacking; breast paler.
Range:-Breeds in the eastern portion of arctic Canada, Green-
land, and Spitzbergen. Winters, in America, chiefly on the Atlantic
coast of the United States from New Jersey to North Carolina.
Recorded once from Barbados (B. b. hrota).2'
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (Anser albifrons)
Description (A. a. albifrons):-Area about base of upper mandible,
including forehead, white, bordered posteriorly by a narrow black
band; remainder of head and neck grayish brown, darker above;
mantle dark grayish brown, the feathers with buffy white borders;
distal portion of primaries black, gray at base; secondaries mostly
black; wing-coverts grayish brown, the greater coverts edged with
white; rump and anterior upper tail-coverts dusky; sides of rump,
lower and outer upper tail-coverts white; tail dusky, broadly tipped
with white; sides and flanks sooty brown, edged with buffy; rest of
underparts white, the entire breast and upper abdomen more or
less heavily washed with black; legs and feet yellowish or orange.
Length 29 ins.; wing 14.25-17.5; tail 5.75; bill 2; tarsus 2.25.
The immature lacks the white "front" of the adult and also the
heavy black washing on the underparts; legs and feet yellowish drab.
Range:-In summer ranges widely along the arctic shores of the
Old and New World. Winters, in America, chiefly in the western
United States; of accidental occurrence in Cuba (A. a. albifrons).
SNOW GOOSE (Chen hyperborea)
Local names:-"Gee"; Guanana Blanca; Ganso Blanco.
Description (C. h. atlantica):-Plumage white, more or less stained
with rusty on head; quills black, gray at base; primary coverts gray;
bill pinkish or orange; feet reddish.
Length 31 ins.; wing 17.25-18.5; tail 5.5; bill 2.5; tarsus 3.25.
The immature resembles the adult but pileum, hind neck and
mantle dusky or gray margined with whitish or buffy; quills blackish;
remainder of wings dusky (paler on lesser wing-coverts), the feathers
edged with white; entire underparts, except under tail-coverts,
washed with rusty yellow.
21 This record is not altogether certain, though there is no reason why the species should
not occasionally occur in the West Indies.
GEESE AND DUCKS
Range:-Breeds in Greenland and on Baffin and Ellesmere Islands.
Winters mainly off the coast of Maryland, Virginia and North
Carolina. Rare winter visitor to Cuba, Isle of Pines, Jamaica,
Puerto Rico and the Bahama Island, where recorded from Abaco,
New Providence and Inagua (C. h. atlantica).22
BLUE GOOSE (Chen caerulescens)
Local names:-Guanana, Guanana Prieta; Ganso Prieto.
Description:-Plumage variable. Head and neck white washed
more or less heavily with rusty; mantle dusky with paler tips to the
feathers; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts gray or grayish
white; tail dusky, margined with white; quills black; greater wing-
coverts black, edged with white or whitish; lesser wing-coverts
bluish gray; breast, sides and flanks slate-gray, margined with brown
and rusty; lower breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts white,
more or less heavily washed with rusty yellow; bill (mostly) and
Length 27 ins.; wing 15-17.25; tail 4.75; bill 2.25; tarsus 3.
The immature in first winter plumage resembles the adult, but
head and neck daik slaty, except chin, which is white; entire under-
parts bluish gray, heavily margined on sides and flanks with buffy.
Range:-Breeds in southwestern portion of Baffin Island. Rare
winter visitor to Cuba.
BLACK-BELLIED TREE DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)"
Description (D. a. autumnalis):-Pileum reddish brown, paler on
forehead and becoming darker, blackish, on hind neck; mantle and
scapulars chocolate-brown, edged with rich reddish brown; rump,
upper tail-coverts and tail black; quills black; primary and greater
coverts grayish white, the lower feathers of the latter dusky; lesser
/wing-coverts buffy olive; entire side of head to above eye gray;
throat white; fore neck grayish or brownish mottled with black;
lower fore neck and breast grayish brown, edged with bright reddish
brown, this color becoming buffy on the breast; remainder of under-
parts abruptly black, except under tail-coverts which are white,
spotted with black; bill orange, the nail bluish; feet pale pink.
22 It is possible that the western race (C. h. hyperborea) occasionally visits the West
Indies but I can find no records of its having done so, though the A. O. U. check-list
mentions this form as "accidental in the West Indies," evidently in error. The Lesser
Snow Goose averages decidedly smaller than the eastern race.
23 This species and D. viduata may breed in the West Indies, but I do not believe this
to be the case. Tree ducks are evidently great wanderers and are likely to appear in
GEESE AND DUCKS
Length 19 ins.; wing 9-10; tail 3; bill 2; tarsus 2.25.
The immature is much duller than the adult; reddish brown color-
ing replaced by dull gray, merely tinged with rusty; abdomen and
flanks grayish white with dusky barring; bill and feet dusky.
The southern race (D. a. discolor) differs in being slightly smaller;
lower hind neck fulvous gray, (contrasting with the reddish brown
of the mantle), this color, however, often heavily washed with
reddish brown; breast usually decidedly paler.
Range:-Southeastern Texas south to the Canal Zone. Recorded
from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Saba?, St. Eustatius? (D. a.
autumnalis). Eastern Panama south to Guayaquil and St. Paulo and
east to Amazonia, the Guianas and Trinidad. Rare straggler to
the southern Lesser Antilles where recorded from Barbados, Gre-
nada?, the Grenadines (Mustique) and St. Vincent (D. a. discolor).
WHITE-FACED TREE DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata)
Description:-Fore part of head to behind eye and large spot on
fore neck, white; hind portion of head, throat and hind neck, black;
lower fore neck and upper chest chestnut, this color extending
narrowly across lower hind neck; mantle dusky, edged and barred
with gold; scapulars dusky, edged with buffy; a chestnut patch in
center of back; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail black;
primaries black; wing-coverts dark slate-colored, more or less glossed
with olive; anterior lesser wing-coverts chestnut; center of breast,
abdomen, thighs and under tail-coverts black; outer breast, sides
and flanks white or buffy, barred with black; bill black; feet lead
Length 17.5 ins.; wing 8.75-9.75; tail 2.5; bill 2; tarsus 2.
Immature birds resemble adults but have more or less white on
Range:-Ranges widely through tropical America and tropical
Africa, Madagascar, and the Comoro Islands. Apparently merely
a straggler to the West Indies. Recorded from Cuba, the Domini-
can Republic (one record of a flock), Puerto Rico (bone deposits
only), and Barbados (very doubtful).
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)24
Local name:-Pato Ingl6s.
Description (A. p. platyrhynchos):-Male:-Head and most of neck
iridescent green with a purple gloss, bordered on the neck by a
24 This and the following species pass through what is known as an eclipse plumage on
their breeding grounds, the males becoming, usually, very like the females in appearance.
Immature ducks resemble more or less closely the adult females.
GEESE AND DUCKS
narrow white ring which is broken on the hind neck; mantle and
scapulars dusky, washed with rufous (particularly on mantle) and
marbled with white; rump dusky; upper and under tail-coverts black,
more or less glossed; longer upper tail-coverts recurved, forming a
conspicuous curl; tail dusky, widely margined with white; quills
drab; speculum glossy purple, bordered above and below with black
and, on inner side, with black and maroon; greater coverts bordered
with white; a white band above the speculum; remainder of wings
mostly brownish gray; entire chest deep chestnut more or less edged
with white; remainder of underparts white, finely marbled with
black and sometimes washed with rusty; bill yellowish green, tipped
with black; feet vermilion.
Female:-Upperparts dusky, the feathers bordered with buffy,
this color darker on rump; wings much as in adult male; sides of
head and neck buffy, narrowly streaked with black; a dusky streak
through eye; throat immaculate buffy; remainder of underparts
buffy, heavily streaked and spotted with dusky.
Length 23 ins.; wing 10-12; tail 3.75; bill 2; tarsus 1.75.
Range:-Breeds widely throughout Europe, Asia and North
America (chiefly in the west). Rare winter visitor to the West
Indies. Recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola?, Jamaica, St. Croix,
Guadeloupe?, Martinique?, St. Vincent?, the Grenadines (Carriacou
and Mustique), Grenada, Barbados, and, in the Bahamas, from
New Providence (A. p. platyrhynchos).
iGADWALL (Chaulelasmus streperus)
.Description:-Male:-Head and neck buffy, thickly speckled with
Sd-sky; crown washed with rufous; a dusky postocular streak; most
of mantle and scapulars, sides and flanks, blackish, finely barred
with white; lower scapulars edged with tawny; most of upper and
under tail-coverts black, tail gray, narrowly margined with white;
middle coverts chestnut; speculum white, bordered in front and
above by black; lesser wing-coverts dusky, marbled with buffy;
remainder of greater coverts and primaries gray or dusky gray;
upper chest black, the feathers narrowly edged with white; rest of
underparts more or less immaculate white, but heavily marked with
blackish on upper breast; bill above mostly dull orange, below black;
feet orange-yellow or yellow.
Female:-Above dusky with pale buffy margins to the feathers;
darker on crown and rump; little or no chestnut on wing; white
speculum faintly mixed with grayish; upper chest washed with buffy;
under tail-coverts white, spotted with dusky; bill above dusky,
below yellowish; feet yellowish.
GEESE AND DUCKS
Length 20 ins.; wing 9.5-11; tail 4.5; bill 1.6; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Breeds widely through Europe, Asia and western North
America. Rare winter visitor as far south as the West Indies, where
recorded from Cuba (one record) and Jamaica.
BALDPATE OR AMERICAN WIDGEON (Mareca americana)
Local names:-Labanco; Pato Labanco.
Description:-Male:-Head and most of neck white, thickly
speckled with dusky; chin dusky; crown almost immaculate white;
a broad streak of iridescent green (glossed with gold and, on the
hind neck, with purple) passing from eye to hind neck; back black,
finely barred with tawny, buffy or white; outer upper tail-coverts
glossy greenish black; tail ashy gray; primaries largely drab; greater
coverts black, glossed with green and edged with white; a large white
patch on fore part of wing; anterior lesser wing-coverts gray; upper
breast, sides and flanks vinaceous, narrowly barred on the sides and
flanks with black; remainder of underparts white, except under tail-
coverts which are black; bill grayish blue, tipped with black; feet
variable,-yellowish, brownish or grayish.
Female:-Head and neck buffy white, heavily speckled, spotted
and streaked with dusky or black, these markings darkest on crown;
rest of upperparts sooty brown, margined with gray or whitish and
more or less barred with ochraceous or ochraceous buff; rump darker
and not marked with ochraceous; tail sooty gray, narrowly edged
with white; wings mostly dusky, the feathers edged with white and'
a few of the lesser coverts barred with buffy; speculum black, with
little or no trace of green gloss; upper chest barred sooty brown
and tawny, but the feathers edged with whitish; remainder of under-
parts white, the sides and flanks washed with tawny and the under
tail-coverts barred with dusky; axillars almost immaculate white.
Length 20 ins.; wing 9-11; tail 4.25; bill 1.4; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Breeds in the northwestern portion of North America.
Winters chiefly in the United States. Rare winter visitor to the
West Indies, where recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola?, Jamaica,
Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Guadeloupe?, Martinique?,
and, in the Bahamas, from Andros Island.
PINTAIL (Dafila acuta)
Local names:-Pescuezi-largo; Pato Pescuezi-largo.
Description (D. a. tzitzihoa):-Male:-Head and neck brown,
slightly glossed on hind neck with lavender or green; pileum mixed
black and buff; occiput black, bordered by a white stripe passing to
GEESE AND DUCKS
lower fore neck; hind neck, mantle, border of chest, sides, and
flanks finely barred dusky and white; distal portion of scapulars
narrow and pointed,-black edged with grayish; lower back and
rump gray with dusky shaft-streaks; upper tail-coverts more or less
marbled dusky and white, the outer webs of the outer feAthers black;
tail dusky gray, edged with white; the central pair of rectices much
elongated and narrow (in male only), the distal ends black; primaries
and primary coverts sooty gray; greater coverts edged with white,
forming a conspicuous wing bar; speculum glossy greenish or laven-
der, bordered on all sides, except above, by black; above bordered
by a band of tawny; lesser wing-coverts gray; underparts white,
more or less washed with light rusty and marbled on abdomen with
dusky; under tail-coverts black; bill bluish gray on sides of upper
mandible, the remainder blackish; feet olive-gray.
Female:-Head buffy, becoming white on throat, the whole
speckled or streaked with dusky, these markings heaviest on crown;
crown washed with cinnamon-buff; remainder of upperparts dusky,
the feathers bordered and .barred with ochraceous-buff or whitish;
primaries dusky; wing-coverts sooty gray, bordered with white;
speculum drab, marbled with black and conspicuously bordered
with white, with a subterminal band of black; lower neck spotted
black and white; remainder of underparts white, sometimes washed
with light rusty; sides, flanks and under tail-coverts irregularly
barred with dusky, abdomen spotted or indistinctly and narrowly
barred with dusky.
Length 28 ins.; wing 9.75-11.25; tail 5-9.5; bill 2; tarsus 1.85.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in northwestern North America. Rare
winter resident in the West Indies, except in Cuba and Jamaica.
GEESE AND DUCKS
Recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola?, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Croix,
Antigua, Guadeloupe and Martinique and, in the Bahamas, from
Abaco (D. a. tzitzihoa).
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Nettion carolinense)
Local names:-Teal; Pato Serrano; Sarcelle.
Description:-Male:-Head and upper neck chestnut-brown,
darker on crown; chin more or less black; a broad streak from eye
to nape iridescent green, becoming iridescent purple on occiput;
lower neck, back, scapulars, sides and flanks black or dusky, finely
striated with white; usually a white perpendicular streak in front
of wing; upper tail-coverts blackish, edged with buffy; tail and
primaries dusky; speculum iridescent green, bordered on both sides
by black and above by a streak of tawny; greater coverts narrowly
edged with white; remainder of wing-coverts ashy gray; upper chest
pinkish buff (becoming white on upper breast), marked with round
blackish spots; remainder of underparts white, except under tail-
coverts which are black bordered with white; bill black; feet dark
olive-gray or plumbeous.
Female:-Upperparts dusky, the feathers edged with gray and
barred with buffy (on mantle and scapulars) or whitish (on lower
back, rump and upper tail-coverts); wings and tail much as in male;
crown black, the feathers with ochraceous borders; neck and sides
of face and throat mottled black and white; upper chest spotted
with black and washed with ochraceous buff; breast, abdomen and
under tail-coverts white, more or less washed with light rusty; sides,
flanks and under tail-coverts marked more or less heavily with dusly.
Length 14 ins.; wing 6.25-7.25; tail 3; bill 1.5; tarsus 1.15.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in northwestern North America. Rare In
winter in the West Indies. Recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola, Ja-
maica, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados and, in the
Bahamas, from New Providence.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Querquedula discors)
Local names:-Teal; Pato de la Florida; Pato Celecal; Sarcelle.
Description:-Male:-Fore part of head, in front of eyes, black,
except for a conspicuous white streak from between eye and bill to
side of throat; remainder of head sooty gray, glossed with lavender
on ear-coverts and nape; back and scapulars dusky, edged with
grayish or buffy; outer webs of some of the longer scapulars blue;
lower and outer upper tail-coverts dark glossy green; a white patch
on each side of base of tail; tail and primaries dusky; speculum
GEESE AND DUCKS
iridescent green, bordered on each side by blackish; lesser and middle
coverts blue, separated by a white band from the green speculum;
entire underparts, except under tail-coverts, black; bill plumbeous;
Female:-Upperparts dusky, the feathers margined with buffy or
grayish; wing much as in male (the blue wing patch very con-
spicuous); speculum duller or with only a slight greenish gloss; chin
and throat immaculate; rest of underparts buffy white, spotted
chiefly on neck and upper breast, sides and flanks with dusky.
Length 15.5 ins.; wing 7-7.5; tail 3.5; bill 1.5; tarsus 1.25.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in western North America. Winters south
to northern South America. By far the commonest of the migrant
or winter resident ducks in the West Indies. Recorded from Cuba,
the Isle of Pines, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Croix,
Sombrero, St. Martin, St. Barts, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia,
St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados and from the
CINNAMON TEAL (Querquedula cyanoptera)
Description (Q. c. cyanoptera):-Male:-Rather similar in color
pattern to the Blue-winged Teal, but margins of feathers of upper
back, entire head (except crown) and neck and entire underparts
(except under tail-coverts) a rich cinnamon-chestnut; crown, longer
scapulars, wings, tail, upper and under tail-coverts as in the pre-
Female:-Very like the female Blue-winged Teal but throat buffy
and speckled with dusky; no greenish gloss on speculum.
Length 15.5 ins.; wing 7-8; tail 3.5; bill 1.75; tarsus 1.35.
Range:-Breeds in western North America, south to central
GEESE AND DUCKS
Mexico. Winters in Mexico and Central America. Twice recorded
from Cuba; records for Guadeloupe and Martinique are doubtful.
Also breeds in southern South America and, perhaps, in Colombia
and Ecuador (Q. c. cyanoptera). An allied race occurs on the
Andean plateau of Peru and Bolivia.
SHOVELLER (Spatula clypeata)
Local names:-Spoonbill; Pato Cucharcta, Sucet.
Description:-Male:-Head and upper neck dark glossy green,
tinged with purple,-almost black on chin; sides of lower neck
white; centre of mantle sooty-brown, the feathers with paler margins;
scapulars marked white and dusky; outer webs of some of longer
scapulars blue; lower back, center of rump and central upper tail-
coverts blackish or dusky; outer upper tail-coverts dark glossy green
or purple; sides of rump white; wings very like those of the Blue-
winged Teal; upper breast white; rest of underparts, except under
tail-coverts, cinnamon-chestnut, indistinctly spotted and marbled
with dusky; under tail-coverts narrowly barred black and white
at base,-the distal portion dark glossy green with a purple tinge;
bill blackish, much wider distally than at base; feet vermilion.
Female:-Very similar in coloring to the female Blue-winged Teal
but throat speckled with dusky; speculum glossy green; blue patch
on wing duller; underparts heavily washed with rusty; bill and feet
paler than in male.
Length 19 ins.; wing 9-10; tail 3.25; bill 2.5-2.75; tarsus 1.4.
Range:-Breeds widely through Europe, Asia and North America
(chiefly northwest). Rare winter visitant to the West Indies.
Recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Croix
and, somewhat doubtfully, from Guadeloupe and Martinique.
REDHEAD (Nyroca americana)
Description:-Male:-Resembles the male Canvas-back but head
entirely reddish brown, glossed with lavender on nape and hind
neck; lower back, sides and flanks much darker, the black barring
much heavier; wings darker, the middle and lesser wing-coverts
mostly gray; upper mandible more recurved,-slate-colored, tipped
with black; feet plumpbeous.
Female:-Plumage much like that of female Canvas-back but
throat (not chin) more or less brownish gray rather than whitish;
no fine black and white barring on lower back, sides and flanks.
Length 20 ins.; wing 8.5-10; tail 2.75; bill 2; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in northwestern North America. Winters,
GEESE AND DUCKS
for the most part, in the southern portion of the United States.
Rare winter visitor to the West Indies. Recorded from Cuba,
Jamaica and from the Bahamas (New Providence).
RING-NECKED DUCK (Nyroca collaris)
Local name:-Pato Negro; Pato del Medio.
Description:-Male:-Head black with a lavender gloss, except on
pileum; chin white; a chestnut ring around neck; remainder of upper-
1 parts black, slightly glossed with purplish or green; scapulars usually
minutely speckled with white; tail and quills dusky; speculum gray;
lesser wing-coverts dark grayish brown with a slight gloss; chest
black becoming white on upper breast; sides, flanks and abdomen
minutely barred black and white, these markings extending to in
front of bend of wing; under tail-coverts blackish; thighs dusky;
bill blackish, the tip black, the base and a wide band across distal
portion or upper mandible whitish (pale blue after death); feet
Female:-Upperparts dark sooty brown, the feathers of the pileum
and mantle edged with buffy brown; speculum gray, bordered on
inner side by dull glossy green; remainder of wings sooty brown;
sides and flanks sooty brown with buffy margins to the feathers;
lower abdomen and under tail-coverts dusky, the latter with an
admixture of white; remainder of underparts (lower breast and
Supper abdomen) white or whitish, more or less mottled with dusky.
Length 17 ins.; wing 7-8.5; tail 3; bill 1.85; tarsus 1.35.
XRange:-Breeds widely through northwestern North America.
Winters chiefly in the southeastern United States. Rare winter
visitor to the West Indies, where recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola?,
IJamaica?, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas (New Providence); ap-
/ parently most numerous at this season in Cuba.
CANVAS-BACK (Nyroca valisineria)
Description:-Male:-Head and neck reddish chestnut; crown and
feathers bordering bill blackish; sometimes a white spot on chin;
fore part of body black; lower back, scapulars and remainder of
underparts, except under tail-coverts, white, minutely barred with
black, these markings much less conspicuous on breast; rump, upper
and under tail-coverts black; tail and quills dusky; wing-coverts
much as lower back, but speculum mostly gray; bill blackish; feet
Female:-Crown and hind neck dusky; sides of head washed with
dull tawny; chin, throat and a short indistinct stripe behind eye
GEESE AND DUCKS
white or whitish; fore part of body dark grayish brown, edged with
buffy; lower back and scapulars dusky, more or less barred, narrowly,
with white; rump, upper tail-coverts and tail dusky, the upper
tail-coverts browner; wing-coverts much as lower back but specu-
lum gray; quills dusky; sides, flanks and under tail-coverts more or
less heavily, but minutely, barred black or gray and white; re-
mainder of underparts white heavily mottled with brownish gray,
particularly on the abdomen.
Length 22 ins.; wing 8.5-9.5; tail 3; bill 2.5; tarsus 1.7.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in northwestern North America. The ma-
jority winter in the southern United States. Rare winter visitor
to Cuba; of doubtful occurrence in Jamaica.
GREATER SCAUP DUCK (Nyroca marila)
Description:-Male:-Head black, glossed with green and, faintly,
;ith lavender; fore part of body black; lower back and scapulars
heavily barred black and white; rump, tail-coverts, tail and quills
black or blackish; speculum white, broadly bordered by black, this
slightly glossed with green; middle and lesser coverts black, speckled
with white; lower breast white; sides, flanks and abdomen more or
less narrowly barred or speckled with blackish; thighs dusky; bill
pale greenish blue, the nail black; feet plumbeous.
Female:-Head dusky brown; feathers bordering upper mandible
white; chin whitish; fore part of body dusky brown with paler, buffy
edges to the feathers; the scapulars and upper tail-coverts similar
but former heavily speckled with white; rump blackish; tail paler;
wings much as in male, but middle and lesser coverts not heavily
speckled with white; sides, flanks and under tail-coverts grayish
brown with buffy margins and more or less barred, narrowly, with'
white; lower breast white; abdomen white, heavily mottled with
Length 22. ins.; wing 8.5-9.5; tail 3.; bill 2.5; tarsus 1.7.
Range:-Breeds widely through the northern portions of both
Hemispheres, but, in North America, chiefly in the northwest.
Winters, in the New World, south to Lower California, Florida and
Texas. Apparently a rare winter visitor to the Bahamas, where
recorded from Watling Island and Rum Cay; of very doubtful
occurrence in Cuba, Hispaniola, Guadeloupe and Martinique.
LESSER SCAUP DUCK (Nyroca affinis)
Local names:-Pato Morisco; Pato del Medio; Pato Turco.
Description:-Male:-Remarkably similar to the Greater Scaup
GEESE AND DUCKS
but smaller; head strongly glossed with lavender,-very faintly with
green; sides and flanks more heavily barred with dusky.
Female:-Resembles the female Greater Scaup but smaller.
Length 16.5 ins.; wing 7.5-8.25; tail 2.25; bill 1.7; tarsus 1.4.
Range:-Breeds chiefly in northwestern North America. Winters
south to Panama and Trinidad. A common winter resident in the
West Indies, second in abundance only to the Blue-winged Teal.
Recorded from Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Vieques,
Culebra, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Virgin Gorda, Dominica, St. Lucia
and in the Bahamas.
SGOLDEN-EYE (Glaucionetta clangula)
SDescription (G. c. americana):-Male:-Head and upper neck
Strongly glossed dark green and lavender, becoming blackish on
chfin and throat (head appears black in field); a large round white
spot at base of upper mandible,-between eye and gape; lower neck,
most of underparts, greater coverts, middle coverts and secondaries
and some of the scapulars white; remainder of plumage black or
blackish; tail, quills and thighs dusky; flanks washed with dusky;
bill blackish; feet orange-yellow.
Female:-Entire head and upper neck brown; lower neck white
becoming gray on hind neck; mantle and scapulars blackish, the
feathers with paler edges; rest of upperparts black or blackish;
speculum white; little, if any, white elsewhere on wing; upper chest
crossed by a boad band of bluish gray; sides and flanks washed
with this color; remainder of underparts white, except flanks, thighs
and basal sides of under tail-coverts which are dusky.
Length 20 ins.; wing 7.25-9.25; tail 3.75; bill 1.4; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Breeds in Alaska and widely throughout Canada; rarely
in some of the northern United States. Winters chiefly on the
coasts of the United States. A rare winter straggler to the West
GEESE AND DUCKS
Indies where recorded from Cuba, Barduda, Barbados and, at sea,
among the Bahama Islands (G. c. americana).
BUFFLE-HEAD (Charitonelta albeola)
Description:-Male:-Head dark glossy lavender, becoming glossy
green on loral region and hind neck; a large white patch beginning
below eye and passing through ear-coverts to hind neck; neck, outer
scapulars, some secondaries and upper wing-coverts white or mostly
white; abdominal region indistinctly washed with grayish; remainder
of back and wings black, but primaries dusky; longer upper tail-
coverts gray, edged with white; tail ashy gray; bill mostly plumb-
eous, the edge of upper mandible yellowish; feet pale pinkish.
Female:-Upperparts dark brownish-gray, becoming blackish on
rump and grayish brown on pileum; speculum and a conspicuous
streak from below eye to side of nape white; upper chest grayish,
the feathers margined with white; sides, flanks and under tail-
coverts ashy gray, and sides of abdomen washed with this color;
remainder of underparts white; feet pinkish gray,-darker than
Length 14 ins.; wing 6-7; tail 2.75; bill 1; tarsus 1.15.
Range:-Breeds widely throughout northwestern North America.
Winters mainly off the coasts of the United States. Rare winter
straggler to the West Indies, where recorded from Cuba (one record)
and Puerto Rico (one record).
HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus)
Description:-Male:-Head and neck black, with a slight green
or purple gloss, except on crown; a fan-shaped crest on hind head
white, broadly edged with black; when crest lowered, a streak oi
white from behind eye to nape; back blackish, becoming paler on
upper tail-coverts and tail; quills dusky; white wing patch (formed
by distal ends of secondaries and tips of greater coverts) crossed
by a black bar; middle coverts gray; lesser coverts dusky; under-
parts mostly white, which extends up towards mantle; a black band
extending down to side of breast; sides and flanks reddish brown,
finely barred with black and bordered anteriorly by a black band;
thighs dusky; under tail-coverts mottled dusky and white; bill
(toothed) black; feet pale yellowish brown.
Female:-Head, neck and upper chest grayish brown; crest cinna-
mon; remainder of upperparts like male but browner and no white
on sides of upper mantle; sides, flanks and thighs dark grayish
brown; under tail-coverts more or less washed with this color;
remainder of underparts white; bill dusky above, yellowish below;
Length 18 ins.; wing 6.5-8; tail 3.75; bill 1.6; tarsus 1.5.
Range:-Breeds widely throughout North America, but chiefly
in the northwest. The majority winter in the United States; a
rare winter visitor to Cuba.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator)
Description:-Male:-Head black, slightly glossed with green;
a black occipital crest; neck white; a narrow black streak along
S center of hind neck; back black, the scapulars mixed black and
white; rump, sides of lower breast and flanks heavily barred black
and white, less distinctly on rump; upper tail-coverts and tail
brownish gray, the former more or less barred at the tips with black
and white; quills blackish; remainder of wing mostly white, crossed
by two bars and with a few streaks of black; border of wing blackish;
a broad band across upper chest pale cinnamon, mottled with black;
sides of upper breast mostly black, marked more or less with white;
remainder of underparts immaculate white, except under tail-coverts
which are faintly washed with dusky; bill (toothed) red, the ridge
dusky; feet red.
Female:-Entire upperparts, sides of chest, sides, flanks and under
tail-coverts grayish brown, many of the feathers margined with
bluish gray, except on head and tail; speculum white, crossed and
bordered by black; sides of head and neck cinnamon-brown, fading
to white on chin and upper throat; lower neck white, mottled with
dusky; remainder of underparts white.
(Length 23 ins.; wing 8.5-9.5; tail 4; bill 2.25; tarsus 1.75.
ARange:-Ranges widely over the northern Hemisphere, through
North America, Europe and Asia. Winters, in America, chiefly
,'about the coasts of the United States. Of accidental occurrence
in Cuba (one record).
The American vultures comprise a small family of five genera,
containing but six species, of which only the Turkey Vulture
(Cathartes aura) is found in the West Indies.25 Being carrion feed-
ers, they are most beneficial, particularly in the Tropics where
5 The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) has been recorded from Cuba (Cory and Dan-
forth) and from Jamaica (March). I feel that these records may pertain to the immature
Turkey Vulture, there being no West Indian specimens of the Black Vulture in existence.
sanitary conditions are not at their best. Vultures are usually seen
soaring, without apparent effort, high in the air. In the West
Indies they are rigidly protected and are thus very tame, often
merely hopping to one side to avoid a pedestrian.
The Turkey Vulture is an abundant and well-known bird through-
out its restricted West Indian range and will probably be the first
land bird to be seen by the traveller arriving either at Havana or
Kingston. It is most numerous in and about towns but is frequently
seen in country districts, even well up in the mountains.
Nesting:-Virtually no nest is made, the eggs being deposited I
among rocks in the side of a cliff, in a hollow log or stump, or on the
ground in thickets. Eggs, 1-3, usually 2, whitish, more or less
heavily spotted with various shades of brown and lilac (69.5
x 47 mm.).
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Local names:-Crow; John Crow (Jamaica); Carrion Crow (Ba-
hama Islands); Aura; Aura Tifiosa.
Description (C. a. aura):-Head and upper neck bare, the crimson
skin more or less covered with hair-like feather shafts; neck and
underparts dull black; upperparts including wings and tail black
HAWKS AND FALCONS
with purplish or greenish reflections; scapulars and wing-coverts
shading to ashy brown; bill whitish; cere crimson; legs and feet
pinkish or buffy white.
Length 30 ins.; wing 19-25; tail 11; bill 2.25; tarsus 2.25.
The immature has the naked skin of the head blackish, more or
less covered with fur-like or downy feathers; light margins to feath-
ers on upperparts less prominent.
Range:-Greater Antilles,-Cuba, Isle of Pines, Jamaica, Puerto
Rico (introduced and now established in southwestern portion of
the island); said to have been introduced to Haiti, but, if so, now
extirpated. Bahama Islands,-Andros, Grand Bahama and Abaco
Islands; introduced on New Providence but now extirpated. Also
Mexico, south to Panama (C. a. aura).
(Hawks, Eagles, Kites and Falcons)
Hawks and falcons are of world-wide distribution. Eight genera,
including thirteen species, are resident in the West Indies and a
number of others occur as winter visitors from the north. None
of the genera but four of the species are endemic to this area. Of
the. thirteen resident species, as many as eight occur in North
America while two endemic species (Accipiter gundlachi and Buteo
.ridgwayi) are apparently representatives of North American hawks.
1Most of the species are rare or local and are not likely to be seen
unless a definite search be made for them. In the Greater Antilles,
the Red-tailed Hawk and, in the Lesser Antilles, the Broad-winged
Rawk are common, while the little Sparrow Hawk occurs abun-
idantly on many islands of the West Indies.
The three West Indian races of the Sharp-shinned Hawk (A. stria-
Stus) are all rare and local. Of the three, that from Hispaniola is the
26 Hawks have recently been separated from the falcons, being regarded as a distinct
family (Accipitridae). I prefer, however, to follow Selater (Systema Avium Aethiopi-
carum) by treating these birds under one family.
In addition to those species mentioned as occurring in the West Indies, fragments of
bones of a Caracara have been found in cave deposits near Utuado in Puerto Rico. The
meagre material collected merely indicates that the bird was intermediate in size between
P. cheriway (found in Cuba) and the South American P. plancus; it has been named
P. latebrosus. Furthermore bones of a hawk, apparently a form of the wide ranging
South American Buteo melanoleucus have been discovered in Cuba.
Female hawks are decidedly larger than the males.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
most numerous. The "Sharp-shin" occurs principally in the wooded
hills and mountains of the interior, showing a marked preference
for pine forests. It may readily be distinguished from the Sparrow
Hawk by its much longer tail, and from Gundlach's Hawk by its
squarer, less rounded tail. Its notes resemble a plaintive "hew-
Gundlach's Hawk (A. gundlachi) of Cuba, which is evidently a
representative of the North American Cooper's Hawk (A. cooperi,
is one of the rarest of West Indian birds. It is apparently confined
to lowland forests, but is widely distributed having lately been
found in Oriente as well as in Pinar del Rio. The author believes
that he saw this hawk on the border of the Hatiguanico River in the
Ci6naga de Zapata.
Both the above species are destructive to poultry but, particularly,
to small birds. They are however too rare to cause any appreciable
Nesting:-The Sharp-shinned Hawk has not been found nesting in
HAWKS AND FALCONS
the West Indies. The North American form (A. s. velox) builds a
rough platform nest of sticks and twigs in trees from about fifteen
to eighty feet above the ground. Eggs, 4-5, rarely more, bluish
white in color heavily spotted and blotched with various shades of
brown (35 x 29 mm.).27 A nest of Gundlach's Hawk, containing
young, was found in the Zapata Swamp, and a female containing an
p egg, pale greenish in color, was taken in early April south of
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)
Local names:-Halc6n; Halconcito; Gavildn Coli-chico; Garrapifia;
Guaraguaito de Sierra; Vers-mouchette.
Description (A. s. striatus):-Entire upperparts slaty blue, darker
on head; tail barred with five blackish or brownish bands; upper
surface of primaries dark sooty brown, the under surface barred
sooty brown and white; throat pale rufous; cheeks rufous; center
of throat white with blackish shaft streaks; underparts white, the
shafts of the feathers brown, frequently bordered with rufous,
giving the markings an arrow-shaped appearance. The female is
less rufescent below than the male.
Length 11.5 ins.; wing 5.75-7.25; tail 5-5.5; bill (from cere) 0.45;
SThe immature differs from the adult in being browner above and
having the breast streaked, not barred, with rufous. The Cuban
ace is the palest of the three West Indian forms. The Puerto Rican
rafee is the darkest and is more rufescent on the underparts, ap-
prroaching in coloration the North American A. s. velox.
Range:-Hispaniola (A. s. striatus); Cuba (A. s. fringilloides);
SPuerto Rico (A. s. venator).28 (See also page 77)
GUNDLACH'S HAWK (Accipiter gundlachi)
Local names:-Halc6n; Gavilan Coli-largo; Gavilin Rabilargo.
Description:-Upperparts bluish slate, the mantle darker; three
blackish bars across tail; lores whitish; cheeks and sides of chest
grayish; sides also washed with this color; chin and throat whitish;
remainder of underparts barred ochraceous cinnamon and white,
27 March (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 1863, p. 152) records the nesting of the
"Pigeon Hawk" (Falco columbarius) in Jamaica and gives measurements of four eggs
collected as 1 x 1I inches (roughly 35 x 29 mm.). These are smaller than eggs of the
Pigeon Hawk which breeds in the northern United States and Canada and may possibly
belong to an undescribed race of the Sharp-shinned Hawk!
28 Apparently restricted to the hills about Maricao.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
the white markings merely spots on the chest and upper breast;
under tail-coverts mostly white; ochraceous cinnamon of thighs
darker, more rufescent; entire underparts, except posteriorly, with
black shaft streaks. The female, in addition to being much larger,
is less bluish above, the pileum being blackish; ear-coverts darker
and less gray; shaft streaks on underparts more pronounced; four
blackish bands across tail.
Length 18-20 ins.; wing 9.5-11; tail 7.75-8.75; tarsus 2.1-3; bill
(from cere) 0.8.
The immature resembles in coloration the young of A. striatus
but streaks on underparts decidedly darker and bolder.
The Red-tailed Hawk is common throughout its West Indian
range, being particularly numerous on the four important Greater
Antilles, where it is often seen soaring over the hills and mountain
valleys. At times it gives vent to a loud, drawn out "keee-ooo"
but is usually silent.
The Broad-winged Hawk is common in Cuba but seems to be most
numerous on the more southern of the Lesser Antilles; it is very rare
in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. In habits and notes it resembles
the Red-tailed Hawk from which it may be distinguished by its
The third West Indian species of this genus (B. ridgwayi)" occuj
locally in Hispaniola. I found this hawk by no means rare in tie
northern pine belt of Haiti and it is common on the island of Granda
Cayemite and on Ile a Vache. Its notes are rather high pitched.
These three hawks do considerable damage to poultry but also
feed on rodents, lizards and snakes. Whenever possible they are
shot by natives.
Nesting:-The nests are placed at high or at moderate elevations
in trees. Eggs, 2-3, of the Red-tailed Hawk from the eastern por- .
tion of its West Indian range, are white (St. Croix, St. Kitts) or
white, spotted profusely with brownish, on the more western islands
(Cuba, Jamaica). Of a set of two taken in the Bahamas, one was
immaculate, the other marked with a few irregular brown smudges
(56 x 47 mm.). Eggs, 2-3, of the Broad-winged Hawk from St. Lucia,
St. Vincent and Grenada are white or bluish white, either immacu-
29 I am inclined to agree.with Peters (Check List of Birds of the World. Vol. I, p. 228)
that B. ridgwayi is a representative of the North American B. lineatus (the Red-
HAWKS AND FALCONS
late or more or less heavily- spotted and blotched with brown with
some underlying markings of lavender-gray (46 x 38 mm.). The
eggs of Ridgway's Hawk await description. They should'be sought
in April, since in early May the author discovered two nests, both
containing downy young, placed in pine trees at heights of about
twenty-five and forty feet above the ground respectively.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
SLocal names:-Chicken Hawk; Ma-caw (Saba); Guaraguao; Gua-
raguao de la Sierra; Gavildn del Monte; Malfini.
Description (B. j. jamaicensis):-Variable; upperparts dark sooty
/ brown, the feathers of the crown edged with white or tawny; quills
blackish, the four outer ones "notched"; rest of wing dark grayish
brown, the feathers edged with whitish; upper tail-coverts white,
barred with rufous-brown; tail rufous, with a subterminal band of
blackish brown; underparts huffy white, washed with rufous and
dusky particularly on the throat and fore neck and, more or less
heavily, with dusky on lower breast; thighs usually barred tawny
Length 20 ins.; wing 13-15; tail 7.25-8.5; bill (from cere) 1; tar-
The immature bird lacks the rufous on the underparts which are
duk atclrl ntetra adfr ekanmr rls
hevl, ihdsk nloe ras;tigsuull are an
Legh2 is;wng1-5 ti .58.;bl (rmcre ;tr
The ~ ~ ~ W -V- imauebr ak*h uos nteudrat hc r
HAWKS AND FALCONS
white, marked, chiefly on the fore neck and lower breast, with dark
grayish brown; tail grayish, barred with blackish.
B. j. umbrinus is a larger form (wing 14.8-17), and is less heavily
marked on the underparts.
Range:-Jamaica, Hispaniola and surrounding islands, Puerto
Rico, the Virgin Islands, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis and
possibly Montserrat (B. j. jamaicensis); Cuba, the Isle of Pines
and the Bahama Islands (Abaco, Andros, New Providence (strag-
gler), Inagua (straggler), and, probably, Grand Bahama; also
Florida (B. j. umbrinus).30
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)
Local names:-Chicken Hawk; Chicken-eater; Gavilin; Gavilbn
Bobo; Guaraguao; Malfini.
Description (B. p. platypterus):-Upperparts dark brown or
grayish brown more or less margined with buffy or rufous; feathers
of nape white basally; upper tail-coverts barred with white; tail
brownish or blackish, crossed by two well defined bands of grayish
or buffy white, the basal one being much the narrower; external
and terminal portion of quills blackish; inner webs chiefly white;
underparts white or whitish, heavily marked, particularly on throat
and upper breast with brownish ochraceous; cere yellow; bill black,
bluish at base.
Length 15.5 ins.; wing 9.75-11.5; tail 6.75; bill (from cere) 1.7;
The immature is easily distinguishable, since the underparts are
more or less heavily streaked with brown.
B. p. antillarum averages smaller and is darker than platy )teruv
and darker than insulicola (wing 10-10.5).
B. p. rivierei resembles antillarum but is darker.
B. p. insulicola resembles antillarum but is much paler, the pale/
margins to the feathers of the upperparts white; underparts less
Range:-Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico; also widely in North
America; winters from southern Florida and southern Mexico south
to northern South America (B. p. platypterus);31 Antigua (B. p.
3s Cuban and Bahaman Red-tailed Hawks appear to average slightly smaller than
those from southern Florida: there are no constant differences.
3t There is only one record from Hispaniola and the species is likewise very rare in
Puerto Rico. The Broad-winged Hawk of these islands may not be referable to the
I am unable at present to say whether Cuban birds (B. p. cubanensis Burns) represent
a distinct race. Certain specimens from the Republic appear to be indistinguishable
from the continental form, although these may represent North American migrants.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
insulicola); Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia (B. p. rivieri);2 St.
Vincent, Grenada, the larger Grenadines and, formerly, Barbados
(B. p. antillarum).
RIDGWAY'S HAWK (Buteo ridgwayi)
Local names:-Guaraguao; Malfini Savanne.
Description:-Upperparts brownish gray with indistinct dusky
shaft streaks; tail narrowly barred with white; quills dark sooty
brown, barred broadly with white; lesser wing-coverts and upper
tail-coverts more or less rufescent; chin whitish; upper breast light
gray with blackish shaft streaks; rest of underparts rufous, narrowly
barred with white; thighs cinnamon-rufous; bill blackish.
Length 15 ins.; wing 9-10; tail 6.5; bill 1.25, bill (from cere) 0.75;
The immature bird is very like the young of B. platypterus. The
upperparts are dark sooty brown marked with buffy; underparts
whitish, streaked with dark brown; thighs pale rufous, streaked with
brown; wings and tail barred with rufous, rather than white.
Range:-Hispaniola, including islands of Beata, La Gonave, lle
A Vache, Grande and Petite Cayemite.
(iprab Hawks have a very circumscribed range in the West Indies.
In1Cuba they occur locally and in small numbers about the borders
of imangrove swamps along the coast and I found them not un-
Sco4rmon in the arid scrub country south of the Ci6naga on the Isle
i of Pines. On St. Vincent Crab Hawks occur in numbers only in
the interior and are not uncommon in the vicinity of the Bonhomme
SIn flight these hawks resemble the Buteos and may frequently
be seen soaring on motionless wings high in the air. When at rest
they are remarkably sluggish, allowing one to approach very closely.
r Their cry, a penetrating, deliberately uttered "ba-tis-ta-ooo" is
audible for a considerable distance. As their name implies, Crab
Hawks feed largely on crabs which they tear apart by means of their
strongly hooked upper mandible.
The Cuban species is endemic while the bird found on St. Vincent
is a form of a species ranging widely through Central and northern
2 Swann (Monograph of the Birds of Prey, Pt. 7, p. 405) considers rivieri indistinguish-
able from antillarum. The author finds, however, on examination of ample specimens,
that the two forms are perfectly recognizable. No skins from Martinique have been seen.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
Nesting:-The nest, a rough mat of sticks, is placed at various
elevations in trees. In St. Vincent nests were placed on top of
clumps of mistletoe and were rather small. Nests of the Cuban
species are evidently somewhat larger and appear to be in use for
more than one season. The eggs, 1-2, are bluish white, spotted
and blotched, chiefly about the larger end with chestnut or chocolate-
brown, (61 x 47 mm.,-B. a. cancrivorus;33 56 x 45.5 mm.,-B.
CUBAN CRAB HAWK
CRAB HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)
Local names:-Black Hawk; Crab Hawk.
Description (B. a. cancrivorus):-Entire plumage brownish blacy;
darker on head; hind neck sparsely mottled with buffy; inner web9--,
of primaries and secondaries irregularly and inconspicuously barred
with rufous, inner webs of basal portion of primaries partially white;
tip of tail, a broad median band and a narrow basal band white.
Length 23 ins.; wing 14-15.5; tail 9; bill 1.75; tarsus 3.75.
The immature has the upperparts brownish black strongly suffused
with white, and the underparts white or buffy more or less streaked
33 An egg collected by the author on St. Vincent is now in the Norris Collection
HAWKS AND FALCONS
with blackish, particularly on upper breast; tail narrowly barred
Range:-St. Vincent; of doubtful occurrence on St. Lucia and
Grenada. Also Trinidad and coastal districts of Venezuela and
Colombia from the delta of the Orinoco to Santa Marta (B. a.
CUBAN CRAB HAWK (Buteogallus gundlachi)
Local names:-Batista; GavilAn Batista; Halc6n Cangerhero.
Description (B. a. gundlachi):-Similar to the preceding species
but plumage, except tail, dark chocolate-brown; scapulars and under-
parts narrowly edged with buffy; inner webs of basal portion of
Length 22 ins.; wing 14-15; tail 8.25; bill 1.5; tarsus 3.75.
The immature bird resembles that of the commoner species except
that the plumage is browner throughout.
Range:-Cuba and the Isle of Pines. A doubtful straggler to
Snail Hawks occur in the West Indies only in eastern Cuba and on
Grenada, in which restricted range they are rare and local. The
Cuban species is restricted to localities where are found the beauti-
ful arboreal snails of the genus Polymita, on which the bird feeds,
using its strongly hooked upper mandible to extract the creatures
from their shells. It is not rare in the low woods south of Guan-
tanamo. The form found on Grenada is a wide-ranging neotropical
species. On Grenada it appears to be most numerous near the sea
but at the present time is rare in any part of the island. The hawks
of this genus are, like the Crab Hawks, remarkably sluggish and
easily approached. Their flight is rather heavy and labored.
Nesting:-A nest of C. uncinatus was found in March high up in
an inaccessible tree half a mile from the coast of Grenada. Apart
from this record, nothing seems to be known of the nesting habits
of either species.
SNAIL HAWK (Chondrohierax uncinatus)
Description (C. u. mirus):-Male:-Upperparts bluish or slate-
gray; narrow and ill-defined ochraceous buff collar across hind neck;
tail paler gray and crossed by three broad bands of black; quills
also barred with blackish; underparts white or buffy, heavily barred
with brown; iris pale green.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
Female:-Differs in having the upperparts dusky, the feathers
of the back and wings more or less margined with rufous; remiges
and rectrices much as in male but duller and browner; underparts
as in male but more buffy posteriorly.
Length 10.5 ins.; wing 9.8-10.5; tail 7; bill (from cere) 1.2; tar-
Range:-Grenada (C. u. mirus).
CUBAN SNAIL HAWK (Chondrohierax wilsoni)
Local names:-Caguarero; Gavildn Caguarero; GavilSn Sonso;
Description:-Male:-Entire upperparts dark brown, paler on
head; underparts white, heavily barred with bright rufous; outer
webs of primaries nearly black; inner webs of outer primaries white
at base, remaining portion reddish chestnut, spotted with black;
tail, paler than back, white at base and crossed by four broad
blackish bars; tip of tail narrowly edged with white; bill yellowish
white, horn-colored at base.
Female:-Above bluish ash, paler on the head; below white, barred
with bluish gray, slightly tinged with rufous; under surface of wings
barred with white,
HAWKS AND FALCONS
Length 17 ins.; wing 10; tail 7.5; bill (from cere) 1.5; (upper man-
dible about inch deeper at base than that of preceding species);
Range:-Eastern Cuba (Province of Oriente).
The Everglade Kite is fairly common in the Ci6naga de Zapata,
in Cuba and is also found at Lake Ariguanabo near Havana and
other inland fresh-water lakes and ponds; it is not uncommon in the
Ci6naga of the Isle of Pines. The species is thus very local in
distribution in its limited West Indian range and, owing to the
draining of marsh lands, appears to be becoming scarcer. This kite
occurs only in or about swamps where it feeds on snails of the genus
Ampullarius. These snails are active in early morning and evening,
and, at such times, one may observe the Everglade Kite flying low
over the marshes very like a Marsh Hawk (Circus). The snail is
picked up on the wing and carried to a "feeding tree" where it is
held until, of its own accord, it appears beyond the opening of the
shell, when it is deftly impaled by the kite's hooked upper man-
dible, held a moment, and then extracted and swallowed, the delicate
HAWKS AND FALCONS
shell dropping to the ground uninjured. The notes of this hawk
resemble a piercing "koreeea."
Nesting:-Two nests found at Lake Ariguanabo were placed in a
willow tree (Clavellina) about five feet above the surface of the
water. Eggs, 2-3, pale bluish white, spotted and blotched with
various shades of brown (46 x 37 mm.).
EVERGLADE KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)
Local names:-Caracolero; Gavilhn Caracolero; Babosero; Gavilin
Description (R. s. levis):-Entire plumage dark brownish slate;
primaries and secondaries blackish; under tail-coverts, longer upper
tail-coverts and base of tail white; tail tipped with white or whitish;
cere, lores and base of lower mandible bright orange; iris red.
Length 17 ins.; wing 11.75-14; tail 7; bill (from cere) 1; tarsus 2.
The immature has the upperparts brownish black, many of the
feathers tipped with rufous or buffy; underparts white, heavily
streaked, particularly on upper breast, with dark chocolate-brown;
throat narrowly streaked with this color; base of tail white as
Range:-Western portion of Cuba and the Isle of Pines (R. s.
Though Ospreys occur throughout the West Indies, the peculiar
resident form seems to be confined to the Bahama Islands at least
during the nesting season. This race, though regarded as merely
a subspecies of the North American bird, is recognizable, even from
a distance, by its much whiter head. Though apparently dis-
tributed throughout the Bahama Islands, the resident Osprey is
most numerous on the southern islands; it is not uncommon on
Inagua. Ospreys feed on fish which they secure by plunging into
the sea, often disappearing completely below the surface, and re-
appearing with their prey firmly grasped in their powerful talons.
Nesting:-The nest is placed, in the Bahamas, high up in bushes,
such as mangroves, or on the edge of a cliff. It is usually very
bulky, being variously composed of twigs and material gathered
from a beach. Eggs, 3, presumably like those of the North American
race. These vary much in color, being usually buffy white, hand-
34 This is a poorly marked form, differing from plumbeus, the Florida race. merely in
having the bill slightly longer.
HAWKS AND FALCONS
somely blotched with chocolate-brown, chiefly about the larger end
(62.5 x 45 mm.).
OSPREY OR FISH HAWK (Pandion haliaetus)
Local names:-Fish Hawk; Eagle; Sea Eagle; Guincho; Guaraguao
del Mar; Aguila del Mar; Halc6n Pescador; Malfini de la Mer.
Description (P. h. ridgwayi):-Male:-Crown, sides of head, hind
neck and area above interscapulars white, the crown finely streaked
with chocolate-brown; an inconspicuous occipital crest of brown and
white feathers; a broken brown streak from behind eye to side of
neck; rest of upperparts ashy brown, rather darker on the mantle,
most of the feathers narrowly bordered with white; quills blackish;
tail buffy brown to white, barred with grayish brown; entire under-
parts immaculate snowy white.
Female:-Similar in coloring to the male but breast spotted with
Length 23 ins.; wing 17-20.5; tail 8.5; bill (from cere) 1.3; tar-
Both sexes vary considerably in size.
Range:-Bahama Islands.35 Also coasts of Yucatan and British
Honduras (P. h. ridgwayi). (See also page 78)
The Caracara is locally distributed in Cuba, being restricted to
the lower, open country and grazing land. It feeds largely on fresh
meat such as frogs and lizards but also devours carrion and dead
fish. It is rather aggressive in its actions towards other birds and
has earned for itself the name of "Rey de las Auras" ("King of the
Vultures") from its habit of keeping away the Turkey Vultures until
it has finished its repast. I have seen these two birds circling
together high over the city of Havana, the smaller size of the Cara-
cara and the white of the under side of its wings readily distinguish-
ing this species. The start of its flight is, however, like that of the
Turkey Vulture, rather labored and noisy. When emitting its
strange cackling notes, from which it has derived its common mame,
the Caracara throws its head back almost on to its shoulders, but it
is seldom heard except in early morning and evening, remaining,
for the most part, quiet and inactive during the heat of the day.
35 Most Osprey records from the Antilles refer to the migrant P. h. carolinensis, the only
definite record of rilgwayi being of a single bird observed off the northeast coast of the
HAWKS AND FALCONS
Nesting:-In Cuba the nest is usually placed high up in trees among
epiphytic plants but is occasionally found in palms. Eggs, 2-3, in
color pale buff to dull rufous, heavily marked with various shades
of brown (59 x 46 mm.).
NORTHERN CARACARA (Polyborus cheriway)
Local names:-Caraira; Rey de las Auras.
Description (P. c. auduboni):-Upperparts brownish black, darker
on wings and crown, the feathers of the nape lengthened; inter-
scapulars conspicuously edged with white; nuchal collar white,
spotted with black; upper tail-coverts largely white; chin, throat
and under tail-coverts largely white; upper breast white, spotted
or barred with blackish; lower breast and thighs blackish, the feath-
ers margined with whitish; tail white, narrowly barred with brown-
ish, the terminal portion blackish; basal portion of quills white,
barred with dusky; bare skin of cere, lores and cheeks red; bill
bluish, edged with yellow.
Length 23 ins.; wing 15-25-16; tail 9; bill (from cere) 1.3; tar-
The immature bird is browner and the barring of the upper breast
and interscapular feathers is restricted or absent.
Range:-Cuba and the Isle of Pines. Also North America from
HAWKS AND FALCONS 75
northern Lower California, southwestern Arizona, Texas, and south-
ern Florida south to western Panama (P. c. auduboni).
The only resident falcon in the West Indies is the little Sparrow
Hawk or Kestrel. In its Greater Antillean range it is a tame and
abundant species but is rare on many of the Lesser Antillean Islands,
being most numerous on some of the smaller northern islands, such
as Saba, St. Eustatius, Montserrat and St. Martin. The Sparrow
Hawk is common in open, settled country and arid districts and is
one of the birds most frequently seen when motoring through the
islands when it will be noticed hovering over some field or, perhaps,
perched on a telephone pole or the spike projecting from the summit
of a royal palm. From such points of vantage it pounces on its
prey which consists largely of grasshoppers and small lizards. It
also feeds on mice and, rarely, on small birds and snakes. The
notes of the Sparrow Hawk are very characteristic, resembling a
rapidly uttered "killi-killi-killi" from which it has derived many of
its local names.
Nesting:-The eggs, 3-5, usually 3, are deposited in a cavity of a
tree or recess of some building. They are straw-brown in color,
evenly peppered with various shades of darker brown and violet
(36 x 29 mm.).
(3.6 x 29 ram.).