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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Birding Puerto Rico: Bananaquit, Carribean Elaenia, Smooth-billed Ani, and More ...

[Puerto Rico. September 2013]

Apart from the endemics noted in the earlier post, a wide variety of other birds were observed:

  • Scaly-naped Pigeon
  • Zenaida Dove
  • African Collared Dove
Scaly-naped Pigeon range is restricted to the Antilles. This is a large blue-grey dove with a tinge of maroon. The eyes are red and surrounded by a patch of bare skin.

Zenaida Dove ranges throughout the Carribean, and, also, in Audubon's days, they were known as a breeding species in the Florida Keys as well. However, now they are seen in the Keys only as rare vagrants. Similar to the Mourning Dove, they are slightly smaller, darker and show a small white wing patch.
African Collared Dove is an exotic species established in Puerto Rico; it is similar to Eurasian Collared Dove but browner.

  • West Indian Whistling Duck
  • White-cheeked Pintail
  • Least Grebe
  • Caribbean Coot
  • Ruddy Duck
West Indian Whistling Duck (seen at Laguna Cartagena)

This is the largest of the 8 species of Whistling Duck -- it is also the rarest of the lot. Numbers have declined due to hunting and the loss of wetlands in the Caribbean.

White-cheeked Pintail occur in 3 subspecies -- the Caribbean subspecies (above); the South American; and the subspecies found on the Galapagos. It is the Caribbean subspecies that is is sometimes seen in Florida as a vagrant.

Least Grebe is the smallest Grebe. It is found in the US in the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas. It ranges additionally in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America.

Caribbean Coot is similar to the American; however, it lacks the red knob on frontal shield.

A wide ranging stiff-tailed duck, the male Ruddy Duck is distinctive with it's pale blue bill, chestnut body, black crown, and white cheeks.

  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Stilt Sandpiper
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
  • Black-necked Stilt 
  • Greater Yellow-legs
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
All the shorebirds seen were at Cabo Rojo and will be familiar to the American birder:
Solitary Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Black-necked Stilt

Greater Yellowlegs

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

  • Caribbean Elaenia
  • Puerto Rican Pewee
  • Banaquit
  • Grey Kingbird
  • Loggerhead Kingbird
  • Mangrove Cuckoo
  • Orange Bisop
  • Pearly-eyed Thrasher
  • Smooth-billed Ani
  • Venezuela Troupial
  • Antillean Grackle
  • Yellow Warbler (Golden race)
Caribbean Elaenia is a tyrant flycatcher found in the islands of the region. 

Puerto Rican Pewee -- found in the Lesser Antilles, this could be a future candidate for a split; resulting in another endemic for Puerto Rico.

The Bananaquit is probably the most abundant passerine on the island. A tiny bird, no one is quite sure where it belongs and is classified as Incertae Sedis.

Grey Kingbird is probably the 2nd most common bird -- it is also observed in Southern Florida where it is a summer breeder.

The Loggerhead Kingbird, on the other hand, is infrequently seen. It looks like an Eastern Kingbird but is larger and has a stouter bill.

Contrary to what its name implies, Mangrove Cuckoo is not restricted to Mangrove habitat.

Orange Bishop, like the African Collared Dove, is another exotic sourced from Africa.

Pearly-eyed Thrasher is a mimid and related to the Northern Mockingbird. It is an aggressive bird and outcompetes other species for nesting sites.

Also found in Southern Florida (although rare), the Smooth-billed Ani is widespread in Puerto Rico and the American tropics.

Another New World blackbird is the Venezuelan Troupial. A striking species, it is commonly found in the Southwest of the Island.

The Greater Antillean Grackle is a typical grackle found widely on Puerto Rico, other islands in the region as well as Mexico.

The Golden Warbler is the race of the Yellow Warbler found in the West Indies; it tends to be more Olive on its uppersides and can have a rufous crown or mask.

  • Antillean Mango

Antillean Mango is found on Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and the Virgin Islands. It is a green hummingbird with a downcurved bill.

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