List of birds of Puerto Rico

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The Puerto Rican spindalis (reina mora in Spanish) is the national bird of Puerto Rico.

This is a categorized list of the bird species recorded in the archipelago of Puerto Rico which consists of the main island of Puerto Rico, two island municipalities off the east coast (Vieques and Culebra), three uninhabited islands off the west coast (Mona, Monito and Desecheo) and more than 125 smaller cays and islands. The avifauna of Puerto Rico include a total of 349 species, of which 166 (48%) are accidental, 42 (12%) are introduced by humans and 16 (5%) are endemic. Around 120 of these species breed in Puerto Rico while the majority of the others overwinter in the archipelago. This list does not include extinct species.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2016 edition.[1] The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced, accidental and extirpated species are included in the total species counts for Puerto Rico.

The following tags have been used to highlight several categories, but not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are common occurring native species.

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the archipelago of Puerto Rico
  • (E) Endemic - a species endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico
  • (Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in the archipelago Puerto Rico although populations exist elsewhere
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to the archipelago of Puerto Rico as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

White-cheeked pintail, a species which can be found on the salt flats of Vieques.
Blue-winged teal, this non-breeding species may be found in both the north and south regions of the main island.
Ruddy duck, this breeding species is typically found in Puerto Rico's northern coastal areas.

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils.

Guineafowls[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Numididae

Guineafowl, a species native to Africa which has been domesticated in Puerto Rico.

Guineafowls are a group of African seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resembling partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled gray plumage.

New World quails[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Odontophoridae

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits.

Pheasants, grouse, and allies[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings.

Grebes[edit]

Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Pied-billed grebe, commonly known as zaramago in Spanish.

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.

Flamingos[edit]

Order: Phoenicopteriformes   Family: Phoenicopteridae

Flamingos (genus Phoenicopterus monotypic in family Phoenicopteridae) are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume and, uniquely, are used upside-down.

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The Procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.

Storm-petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm-petrels are the smallest seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.

Tropicbirds[edit]

Order: Phaethontiformes   Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head.

Frigatebirds[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have colored inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.

Boobies[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies with only boobies occurring in Puerto Rico. Both groups are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Cormorants and shags[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage coloration is varied with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white and a few being quite colorful.

Pelicans[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

Brown pelican, a protected species which commonly occurs in Puerto Rico's coasts.

Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes.

Herons, egrets, and bitterns[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

Cattle egret (garza in Spanish), a common bird in Puerto Rico's rural areas, usually found on top of cows.

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and, rather surprisingly, given their size and weight, very capable soarers.

New World vultures[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Cathartidae

Turkey vulture, an introduced species which has taken residence in the Guánica State Forest.

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses.

Osprey[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Hawks, eagles, and kites[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

Red-tailed hawk, commonly known as guaraguao in Puerto Rico.

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.

Rails, gallinules, and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Common gallinule, this species can be commonly seen in the botanical garden of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.

Limpkin[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Aramidae

The limpkin is a large, odd bird with drably plumaged brown with a grayer head and neck.

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.

Oystercatchers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

American oystercatcher, this breeding species can be found in the southern Puerto Rican dry forests.

The oystercatchers are large, obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Puerto Rico.

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

Killdeer, this species breeds in the archipelago of Puerto Rico.

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water.

Jacanas[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Greater yellowlegs, a common occurrence, except in summer, at the island of Culebra.
Ruddy turnstone, a non-breeding species commonly found near coastal waters.
Sanderling, a non-breeding species commonly found near bodies of water.

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with gray or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.

Gulls, terns, and skimmers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laughing gull, the most common gull (gaviota) in the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
Sooty tern, this species nests in the Culebra National Reserve.

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls, kittiwakes, terns and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with gray or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years. Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Rock pigeon, a common occurrence in the urban areas of Puerto Rico.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Cuckoos[edit]

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

Smooth-billed ani, a species which can be found in urban areas.

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites.

Barn-owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Short-eared owl, a species found in the southwestern municipality of Cabo Rojo.

The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.

Nightjars and allies[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves.

Potoos[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Nyctibiidae

Potoos are a group of large near passerine birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. These are nocturnal insectivores which lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars.

Swifts[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang.

Hummingbirds[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Trochilidae

Ruby-throated hummingbird, a species which occurs accidentally in Puerto Rico.

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Todies[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Todidae

Puerto Rican tody, an endemic bird known as San Pedrito (little Saint Peter).

Todies are a group of small near passerine forest species endemic to the Caribbean. These birds have colorful plumage and resembles kingfishers, but have flattened bills with serrated edges. They eat small prey such as insects and lizards.

Kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.

Woodpeckers[edit]

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.

Falcons and caracaras[edit]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

American kestrel, known as halcón común (common falcon) in Puerto Rico.

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.

Cockatoos[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Cacatuidae

A sulphur-crested cockatoo, a species introduced through the pet industry.

Cockatoos share many features with true parrots (family Psittacidae) including the characteristic curved beak shape and a zygodactyl foot, with two forward toes and two backwards toes. They differ, however in a number of characteristics, including the movable headcrest, and their lack of the Dyck texture feather composition, which gives many parrots their iridescent colors. Cockatoos are also, on average, larger than the true parrots.

Old World parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittaculidae

New World and African parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae

Puerto Rican amazon, an endemic species and one of the 10 most endangered birds in the world.

Tyrant flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae

Gray kingbird, known as pitirre, an onomatopoeic name which describes the species' call.

Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous.

Vireos[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills.

Crows, jays, and magpies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.

Swallows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

Barn swallow, species from this family are known as golondrinas in Puerto Rico.

The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.

Thrushes and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.

Mockingbirds and thrashers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae

Northern mockingbird, commonly known as ruiseñor in Puerto Rico.

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance.

Starlings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.

Waxwings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of birds with soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.

New World warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

Elfin-woods warbler, an endemic warbler and the most recent New World warbler discovered.

The New World warblers are a group of small often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.

Tanagers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Thraupidae

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly colored. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar.

Buntings and New World sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Emberizidae

Grasshopper sparrow, a species that commonly occurs in rice fields and pastures.

Emberizidae is a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.

Cardinals and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages.

Troupials and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae

Yellow-shouldered blackbird, an endemic blackbird placed in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service list of endangered species in 1976.

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.

Finches, euphonias, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.

Old World sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

House sparrow, a common occurring species in Puerto Rico's urban areas.

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects.

Weavers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Ploceidae

Weavers are a group of small passerine birds related to the finches. These are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills, most of which breed in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer species in tropical Asia. Weavers get their name from the large woven nests many species make. They are gregarious birds which often breed colonially.

Waxbills and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Estrildidae

The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colors and patterns.

Indigobirds[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Viduidae

The Viduidae is a family of small passerine birds native to Africa that includes indigobirds and whydahs. All species are brood parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of estrildid finches. Species usually have black or indigo predominating in their plumage.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  • Lepage, Denis. "Puerto Rico checklist". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved May 19, 2006. 
  • Oberle, Mark (2003). Las aves de Puerto Rico en fotografías (in Spanish). Editorial Humanitas. ISBN 0-9650104-2-2. 
  • Luis J. Villanueva-Rivera and Miguel A. Acevedo. "Puerto Rican birds". Retrieved May 19, 2006. 
  • Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists - Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323.