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Field Guides Tour Report
Bahamas: Endemics & Kirtland's Warbler 2019
Mar 23, 2019 to Mar 27, 2019
Jesse Fagan

Here we are in the Nassau airport at the end of our fun trip through the Bahamas. Thanks again to the group for a great time.

This was another successful running of our short and fun itinerary to the Bahamas. We had awesome weather this year, and the birds didn't disappoint. We got to see all the possible endemics (including the local Bahama Oriole), several regional endemics (amazing looks at Great Lizard-Cuckoo and very cooperative West Indian Woodpecker), and, of course, wintering Kirtland's Warbler. Thanks to my fun group, and I look forward to seeing you again on another adventure.

Jesse aka Motmot (from Dahlonega, Georgia)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – A group of three birds seen on Eleuthera Island.
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps) – One distant bird seen on a large freshwater lake on Eleuthera Island.

One of our targets on Eleuthera was the rare Kirtland's Warbler, a species that winters entirely on a few islands in the Bahamas. We had a wonderful encounter as shown in this photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – In Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island.
WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala) – Seen on all the islands.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – This is where the North American invasion began. A burgled pet shop in 1974 and subsequent invasion of SE Florida was how it all started.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – Common on all the islands.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Just a few on Eleuthera and Andros. Uncommon on the islands. The resident subspecies here (carolinensis) includes most of the eastern US. Almost certainly, local populations include wintering birds.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Seen on all the islands.
GREAT LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus merlini) – Amazing bird! Seen very nicely on Eleuthera.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
BAHAMA WOODSTAR (Calliphlox evelynae) – This endemic was visiting feeders at the Levy Nature Preserve on Eleuthera. [E]
CUBAN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon ricordii) – Quite common on Abaco Island.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans) – A cooperative bird showed well crossing the entrance road to Small Hope Bay several times. The subspecies here, coryi, is restricted to the Bahamas.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – One on Eleuthera.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) – Along the coast on Eleuthera.

We worked hard to have good looks at Cuban (Rose-throated) Parrot. Our persistence, however, paid off. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – Good numbers along the Eleuthera coast at different spots.
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – A pair were seen north of the Eleuthera airport.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Small numbers scattered along the Eleuthera coast.
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – A trio were at Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera Island.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – Lots turning over stones on Eleuthera Island. Eleuthera Island was by far our best shorebird island.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – One on Abaco Island.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Good numbers on all the islands. Most in full breeding plumage (with black hoods).
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus) – Three different individuals were seen on Eleuthera Island, which is the most yet on this tour.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Good numbers on Eleuthera Island.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus) – Small number of wintering birds on Eleuthera Island.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Seen along the coast at Eleuthera (Governor's Harbour) and Andros Island.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – Singles wintering on Abaco and Andros islands.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – A pair were seen on Andros Island.

One of the coolest species ever was photographed by guide Jesse Fagan on Eleuthera: Great Lizard-Cuckoo!

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – One seen flying on Andros Island.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Just one on Abaco Island. The islands have few cattle, which may explain their scarcity here.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – A pair in the mangroves at Small Hope Bay.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – One on Eleuthera Island at the Levy Preserve.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Several foraging in the front yard of someone's home on Andros Island. Our last new bird of the trip.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – The nominate race is native to the Greater Antilles. Historically, I bet they fed a lot on shoreline carrion, e.g. beached whales, etc., since the Bahamas have just one native mammal.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – The pale-headed subspecies here is ridgwayi.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
RED-TAILED HAWK (SOLITUDINIS) (Buteo jamaicensis solitudinis) – Seen a few times on Abaco. [E]
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – One was seen on Andros Island; a wintering bird here.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
WEST INDIAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes superciliaris) – Seemed easier to find this year. Seen a few times on Abaco Island, where they nest in dead native palm trees.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (EASTERN) (Dryobates villosus piger) – One on Andros Island.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (CUBAN) (Falco sparverius sparverioides) – The subspecies in the Bahamas is quite nice looking, the males with clean white underparts.
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – Small numbers; seen on Abaco and again on Andros Island.

It's easy to see why folks like birding the Bahamas! Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
CUBAN PARROT (BAHAMAS) (Amazona leucocephala bahamensis) – We finally found a small group at Bahama Palm Shores on Abaco Island feeding in a gumbo limbo tree.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
CUBAN PEWEE (Contopus caribaeus) – Fairly common in the pine forest of Abaco Island.
LA SAGRA'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus sagrae) – Also, fairly common on Abaco and Eleuthera in a variety of wooded habitats.
LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus bahamensis) – Seen a few times on Abaco Island.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
THICK-BILLED VIREO (THICK-BILLED) (Vireo crassirostris crassirostris) – Common (especially by voice) on all the islands.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BAHAMA SWALLOW (Tachycineta cyaneoviridis) – Seems to winter away from the northern Bahamas area, but good numbers were around this year. Nesting on the new cell phone towers. [E]
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A pair seen on Abaco Island.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – Breeding males were seen on Abaco Island.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
RED-LEGGED THRUSH (PLUMBEUS/SCHISTACEUS) (Turdus plumbeus plumbeus) – The nominate race was seen well on Abaco at Bahama Palm Shores.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) – Small numbers seen on all the islands.
BAHAMA MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gundlachii) – A surprising miss for us on Abaco, but we found several on Eleuthera in the coppice habitat.

This endemic Bahama Woodstar was seen very well on Eleuthera. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – Unlike the previous species, found in more disturbed habitats. Seen on all the islands.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – A fairly recent invader to Abaco Island. We saw two around Marsh Harbour. First detected on the island around 2012 or so.
Spindalidae (Spindalises)
WESTERN SPINDALIS (BAHAMAS GREEN-BACKED) (Spindalis zena townsendi) – Good numbers on Abaco Island.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
BAHAMA ORIOLE (Icterus northropi) – Wonderful looks at two banded birds on the grounds of Small Hope Bay Lodge. [E]
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – Resident on the islands.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Detected on Abaco and Andros islands.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Singles on Eleuthera Island.
BAHAMA YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis rostrata) – Seen in the pine forest of Abaco Island National Park. [E]
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) [*]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Small numbers wintering on all the islands.

We had a smooth plane ride in the Cessna Caravan from Abaco to Eleuthera. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.
KIRTLAND'S WARBLER (Setophaga kirtlandii) – WOW! Awesome looks at a bird on Eleuthera Island. A lifer for several folks in the group.
CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina) – A lovely male was feeding in the mulberry tree at our hotel on Eleuthera Island.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – Seen on Eleuthera and Andros Island.
YELLOW WARBLER (GOLDEN) (Setophaga petechia gundlachi) – This resident Yellow Warbler race was seen in the mangroves on Andros Island.
PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum) – Most appeared to be "Western" Palm Warblers (subspecies palmarum), but one bird on Eleuthera was more yellow below, representative of "Eastern" (hypochrysea).
OLIVE-CAPPED WARBLER (Setophaga pityophila) – This Caribbean endemic was seen on Abaco Island in the pine forest where it is pretty common.
PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus achrustera) – The resident Pine Warbler was common in the pine forest on Abaco Island.
BAHAMA WARBLER (Setophaga flavescens) – Like a long-billed Yellow-throated Warbler, from which it was split a few years back. [E]
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor) – Small numbers on Abaco and Eleuthera islands.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – A male was foraging in the tree above the Buccaneer's Club on Eleuthera Island.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
BANANAQUIT (BAHAMAS) (Coereba flaveola bahamensis) – A potential split in the future. One of the more distinctive looking Bananaquits in this complex.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – Common on Abaco.

Our last of the Bahamian endemics was this Bahama Oriole photographed by guide Jesse Fagan on the island of Andros.

GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Melopyrrha violacea) – Good numbers on Abaco and Eleuthera.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Small numbers on all the islands.
NORTHERN CURLY-TAILED LIZARD (Leiocephalus carinatus armouri) – Seen on Abaco Island.


Other critters seen:

1) Alsophis vudii (Bahamian Brown Racer) = There are just a few native snakes to the Bahamas. We saw this one, roughly a 3-footer, on the grounds of Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island.

Totals for the tour: 75 bird taxa and 0 mammal taxa