This post will cover a collection of species found in scrub forest habitat of Southwestern Puerto Rico -- specifically at Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge (see FWS link here); incluuding:
- Black-faced Grassquit
- Mangrove Cuckoo
- Caribbean Elaenia
- Antillean Mango
- American Kestrel
- Venezuelan Troupial
It is found in most of the Caribbean islands as well as coastal Venezuela and Colombia but is only casually found on our shores in Florida.
This is a tiny songbird, measuring only about 4.5 inches; the song itself is a soft buzzing sound.
The grassquit, as it name implies, tends to favor tall grasses and weeds; relishing the seeds for food.
Somewhat more drab than the grassquit is the Caribbean Elaenia. What it lacks in color it makes up in spirit -- this tyrant flycatcher is fearless and fiercely territorial.
A much smaller bird, the Antillean Mango was spotted alternatively perched and hovering to feed on nectar:
This medium-sized hummer has a downcurved bill and, compared to some of its cousins on the Island, is plumed rather modestly with a white breast and green uppersides.
Moving on to New World Blackbirds -- the Venezuelan Troupial, an attractive Icterid, is, like its name implies, not native to Puerto Rico.
While this Oriole is quite the stunner, it however has had a very detrimental effect on the native avifauna. Being a nest pirate, the Troupial does not build a nest of its own; instead preferring to evict the rightful nest builders and killing their young.
This despicable behavior has had a particularly strong impact on the decline of the endangered and endemic Yellow-shouldered Blackbird.
Also spied was this Mangrove Cuckoo moving stealthily through the brush:
Lastly, a familiar sight to the American birder -- a couple of American Kestrel:
Every habitat brings a treasure trove of species uniquely suited to their environment; and the dry scrub forest of Southwestern Puerto Rico offers a spectacular collection of specialty birds such as the Black-faced Grassquit and the sinister Troupial.