List of birds of the British Virgin Islands
This is a list of the bird species recorded in the British Virgin Islands. The avifauna of the British Virgin Islands include a total of 171 species, of which three have been introduced by humans and thirteen are rare or accidental. Two species listed are extirpated in the British Virgin Islands and are not included in the species count. Four species are globally threatened.
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, 6th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for the British Virgin Islands.
The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. The commonly occurring native species do not fall into any of these categories.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the British Virgin Islands
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to the British Virgin Islands as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
- (Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in the British Virgin Islands although populations exist elsewhere
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.
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.
- Black-capped petrel, Pterodroma hasitata
- Great shearwater, Ardenna gravis
- Audubon's shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri
The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.
Boobies and gannets
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white and a few being colourful.
- Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured 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.
- Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.
- Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis
Bitterns, herons and egrets
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 wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.
- Great blue heron, Ardea herodias
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Tricoloured heron, Egretta tricolor
- Little blue heron, Egretta caerulea
- Snowy egret, Egretta thula
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Green heron, Butorides virescens
- Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea
- Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis
- American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus
Ibises and spoonbills
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 despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.
Flamingos 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.
- Caribbean flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber
Ducks, geese and swans
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, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.
- Fulvous whistling duck, Dendrocygna bicolor
- West Indian whistling duck, Dendrocygna arborea
- American wigeon, Anas americana
- Green-winged teal, Anas crecca
- Northern pintail, Anas acuta
- White-cheeked pintail, Anas bahamensis
- Blue-winged teal, Anas discors
- Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
- Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris
- Lesser scaup, Aythya affinis
- Ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
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.
- Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Hawks, kites and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.
Caracaras and falcons
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.
New World quails
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.
- Crested bobwhite, Colinus cristatus
Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit 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.
- Clapper rail, Rallus crepitans
- Sora, Porzana carolina
- Common gallinule, Gallinula galeata
- American coot, Fulica americana
- American oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus
Avocets and stilts
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.
Plovers and lapwings
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.
- American golden plover, Pluvialis dominica
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus
- Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia
- Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus
- Piping plover, Charadrius melodus
- Snowy plover, Charadrius nivosus
Sandpipers and allies
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. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
- Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata
- Short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus
- Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda
- Greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca
- Lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes
- Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria
- Willet, Tringa semipalmata
- Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla
- Western sandpiper, Calidris mauri
- Least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla
- White-rumped sandpiper, Calidris fuscicollis
- Pectoral sandpiper, Calidris melanotos
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea (A)
- Stilt sandpiper, Calidris himantopus
- Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor
Skuas and jaegers
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey 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
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gulls, kittiwakes, terns and skimmers. They are typically grey 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 grey 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 by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.
- Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Laughing gull, Leucophaeus atricilla
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Royal tern, Thalasseus maxima
- Roseate tern, Sterna dougallii
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Arctic tern, Sterna paradisaea
- Forster's tern, Sterna forsteri
- Least tern, Sternula antillarum
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- Black skimmer, Rynchops niger
Pigeons and doves
- Rock dove, Columba livia (I)
- White-crowned pigeon, Patagioenas leucocephala
- Scaly-naped pigeon, Patagioenas squamosa
- Zenaida dove, Zenaida aurita
- Common ground dove, Columbina passerina
- Bridled quail-dove, Geotrygon mystacea
- Ruddy quail-dove, Geotrygon montana
Parrots, macaws and allies
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back.
Cuckoos and anis
- Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Mangrove cuckoo, Coccyzus minor
- Smooth-billed ani, Crotophaga ani
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.
- Puerto Rican screech owl, Megascops nudipes
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 camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Antillean nighthawk, Chordeiles gundlachii
- Chuck-will's-widow, Antrostomus carolinensis
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.
- Black swift, Cypseloides niger
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.
- Antillean mango, Anthracothorax dominicus (Ex)
- Green-throated carib, Eulampis holosericeus
- Antillean crested hummingbird, Orthorhyncus cristatus
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.
- Belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers and allies
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.
- Puerto Rican woodpecker, Melanerpes portoricensis (Ex)
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius (A)
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, have plain colouring. As the name implies, most are insectivorous.
- Caribbean elaenia, Elaenia martinica
- Puerto Rican flycatcher, Myiarchus antillarum
- Grey kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis
Swallows and martins
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.
- Caribbean martin, Progne dominicensis
- Bank swallow, Riparia riparia
- Cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (A)
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
Mockingbirds and thrashers
The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their colouring tends towards dull-greys and browns.
- Black-whiskered vireo, Vireo altiloquus
New World warblers
The New World warblers are a group of small, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.
- Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera (A)
- Golden-winged warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera (A)
- Northern parula, Setophaga americana
- Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia
- Chestnut-sided warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica
- Magnolia warbler, Setophaga magnolia
- Cape May warbler, Setophaga tigrina
- Black-throated blue warbler, Setophaga caerulescens (A)
- Yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata
- Black-throated green warbler, Setophaga virens
- Yellow-throated warbler, Setophaga dominica
- Prairie warbler, Setophaga discolor
- Palm warbler, Setophaga palmarum (A)
- Blackpoll warbler, Setophaga striata (A)
- Hooded warbler, Setophaga citrina (A)
- American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla
- Black-and-white warbler, Mniotilta varia
- Prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea (A)
- Worm-eating warbler, Helmitheros vermivorus (A)
- Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla
- Northern waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis
- Louisiana waterthrush, Parkesia motacilla (A)
- Kentucky warbler, Geothlypis formosus (A)
- Common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
- Canada warbler, Cardellina canadensis
- Bananaquit, Coereba flaveola
Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters and allies
The emberizids are 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
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
The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.
- Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
- Shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis
- Venezuelan troupial, Icterus icterus
- Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula
- Lepage, Denis. "Checklist of birds of the British Virgin Islands". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
- Clements, James F. (2000). Birds of the World: a Checklist. Cornell University Press. p. 880. ISBN 0-934797-16-1.