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Bird Research in the Bahamas

In the early winter of 1996, we began a long term study of resident and neotropical migrant birds wintering on Eleuthera Island in the Bahama Islands. The purpose of this study is to identify those species, wintering in this region, identify those habitats used by these wintering species, and recommend management and conservation programs to protect these species on their wintering grounds. We hope you enjoy these views of some of the birds we found in our study area.

*We are greatly indebted to the Bahama Ministry of Agriculture for granting us the opportunity to undertake this important investigation, and to Mr. David Steigelman for his offer to use his home and estate to conduct this study.

 

This is our banding station on Eleuthera Island. It is a privately maintained lighthouse located on the Atlantic coast a few miles from Governor's Harbor.

Banding Station
Figure 1 - Banding Station

 

Silver Palm Habitat
Figure 2 - Silver Palm Habitat

 

The Silver Palm habitat characterizes much of this study area. Soils are sandy with a heavy litter layer of decaying palm fronds.

The attractive Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) is a resident honeycreeper common in the study area. They are common throughout the West Indies, and are called by many local names such as Banana Bird, Paw-paw Bird, Marley Quit, Bessie Coban, Black See-see and Sucrier. These birds build a globular nest that is often used for roosting when not in use for breeding.

 

Bananaquit
Figure 3 - Bananaquit

Black-faced Grassquit
Figure 4 - Black-faced Grassquit

The resident Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor) is common in the study area. Males are black, females duller. Its high pitched buzzy song is often the first indication of their presence. Found throughout the West Indies, they go by many descriptive local names such as Parson Bird, Sin Bird, Chitty Bird, Chamorro Negro, Ci-ci des Tomeguín and others.

 

This Neotropical migrant breeds in the eastern USA and winters in the Caribbean. This species is distinguished from the resident Bahama Yellowthroat on Eleuthera Island by its brownish crown, and blue-gray band on the forecrown.

 

Common Yellowthroat
Figure 5 - Common Yellowthroat

 

Greater Antillean Bullfinch
Figure 6 - Greater Antillean Bullfinch

 

This is a female Greater Antillean Bullfinch. Males are jet black with red patches over the eyes, throat, and red under tail coverts. The large bill of this bird is used to turn and peel berries much like a parrot.

This individual is an adult male Indigo Bunting in winter plumage. Note the amount of brown in the plumage. On its breeding grounds in North America, this male will be entirely blue.

Indigo Bunting
Figure 7 - Indigo Bunting

 

Northern Parula
Figure 8 - Northern Parula

 

The Northern Parula is a most attractive warbler. The lovely plumage of blue, chestnut, yellow, green and white almost defies description. This bird is a Neotropical migrant the breeds in North America.

The resident Thick-billed Vireo is a common species on all main islands. Their call is reminiscent of the White-eyed Vireo commonly heard in brushy thickets in North America.

Northern Parula
Figure 9 - Thick-billed Vireo

 

Prairie Warbler
Figure 10 - Prairie Warbler

 

The Prairie Warbler breeds in the eastern US and Canada in open pine forests. It is one of the species that has benefited from the clearing of forests. Declining populations may be resulting from reforestation efforts.

The Palm Warbler, also a species wintering in the Caribbean, is one of the most commonly observed warblers in the Bahamas in winter months.

Palm Warbler
Figure 11 - Palm Warbler

 

Gray Catbird
Figure 12 - Gray Catbird

 

The Gray Catbird is a bird of forest edges and dense brush. It breeds in North America and winters in the extreme southeastern US, and parts of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

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