A Field Guides Birding Tours Report


March 18-23, 2023 with Jesse Fagan guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The tour starts on Abaco Island in the beautiful pine forest of Abaco National Park. Thankfully, Hurricane Dorian spared this part of the island. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

Another great trip to the Bahamas! It had been a few years since my last visit, which would have been before the pandemic AND before the major impact of Hurricane Dorian in early September 2019. The hurricane left devastating impacts on the local economy and habitats on Abaco Island. However, we saw a lot of resilience from the local people as restaurants and hotels have reopened and the birds seemed to be around, too.

We enjoyed visiting three of the most important islands for bird endemism, which included Abaco, Eleuthera, and Andros. On Abaco Island it is possible to see most of the endemics, like the Bahama Woodstar, yellowthroat, swallow, and warbler, and we had great looks at all four. Abaco also has several important regional Caribbean endemics that we encountered including Cuban Parrot, West Indian Woodpecker, Cuban Emerald, and Cuban Pewee. A few of these are only found in Cuba and the Bahamas. We targeted the rare Kirtland's Warbler on Eleuthera Island with great success. Our final Bahamian endemic, the Bahama Oriole, we found very close to our hotel on Andros Island. This was also bird of the trip!

In summary, a very successful trip with mostly good weather, excellent birding (one of my highest species totals ever), and a fun group. Thanks to everyone for participating and supporting Field Guides, Inc. We look forward to hosting you again in the near future. All the best for 2023 and beyond,

—Jesse Fagan 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

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

All of the waterfowl on this trip were seen on the island of Eleuthera at Carey's Pond.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

A good bird for the Bahamas; probably the rarest of the waterfowl we found at Carye's Pond.

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

Carey's Pond, Eleuthera.


This was my first tour seeing this species in the Bahamas, though it is more common further south in the Caribbean. The specific epithet eludes to its presence here, however.

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)

A single female at Carey's Pond.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our first endemic was the Bahama Yellowthroat which we saw the first afternoon as we tried to get ahead of the windy frontal boundary. Crushing photo by participant Doug Clarke.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Small numbers on Carey's Pond.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Seen at a couple of spots on Eleuthera.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

Fairly common on most islands in the Bahamas.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

First introduced to the New World in the Bahamas where 50 or so birds escaped captivity in the 1970s and quickly spread to the mainland.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Good numbers on all the islands.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Seen on Eleuthera.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

Seen on all the islands. Smooth-billed Ani is the resident Caribbean ani.

MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) [*]

GREAT LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus merlini)

Heard on Eleuthera, but we eventually caught up with this incredible creature on Andros after a bit of work. One of the highlights of the tour.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

BAHAMA WOODSTAR (Nesophlox evelynae) [E]

A male was seen well at the Levy Preserve feeders, but also females in the pine forest on Abaco.

CUBAN EMERALD (Riccordia ricordii)

In the pine forest on Abaco and Andros.

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Thick-billed Vireo, a Caribbean endemic, is common in the coppice and pine forest on Abaco Island. Photo by participant Daphne Gemmill.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans)

Seen super well in the mangroves near our hotel on Andros Island.

SORA (Porzana carolina)

One was calling and working the edge of Carey's Pond.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Both gallinule and coot were on Carey's Pond.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Seen on Abaco Island including near our hotel in Mash Harbour.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Small numbers on Carey's Pond, Eleuthera.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Seen in Governor's Harbour.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Small numbers on the shore in Governor's Harbour.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

On Andros Island.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The resident American Kestrel was seen in its nesting cavity on Abaco Island. Notice the clean white underparts of this subspecies. Photo by participant Paul Beerman.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Seen on Abaco Island near the boat ferry and again on Eleuthera.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

One was on Eleuthera Island.


The mystery gull we had in Governor's Harbour was probably this species. I have had immature LBBG here on a number of occasions, but was surprised to see an adult bird. They are very similar to Yellow-legged Gull, but that species would be very rare in the New World. The bird felt "big" to me, but I think the real likelihood is that this was a LBBG.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Small numbers around Governor's Harbour and on Andros.

The northern pine forest on Abaco was devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Fairly common around the harbour at Marsh Harbour.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

On Abaco Island.

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

This species is slowly expanding north in the Bahamas. It was first reported breeding in New Providence in 1998. Seen on Eleuthera at Carey's Pond.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

One on Andros Island.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Small numbers on Eleuthera and Andros.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Fairly common on all the islands.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Just one on Abaco Island.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

Seen on Eleuthera and Andros.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Just one on Andros Island.

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Eumaeus atala has a limited range in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and southern Florida. Lovely photo by participant Brian Johnson on Abaco Island.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

One at Carey's Pond, Eleuthera.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Also, one at Carey's Pond.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Small numbers walking around the grassy lawns on Andros.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

One on Andros Island.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Surprisingly, found on all the islands!

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Singles on Abaco and Andros.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

RED-TAILED HAWK (SOLITUDINIS) (Buteo jamaicensis solitudinis)

This species is resident in the pine forest on Abaco Island.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Wintering birds were seen on Eleuthera Island.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

WEST INDIAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes superciliaris)

We caught up with this West Indian endemic on Abaco Island.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (EASTERN) (Dryobates villosus piger)

One was seen in the pine forest on Abaco Island.

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We travelled to Eleuthera in hopes of seeing a wintering Kirtland's Warbler. Success! Thanks to partcipant Doug Clarke for this nice shot.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (CUBAN) (Falco sparverius sparverioides)

Photographed well near our breakfast spot on Abaco Island.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

An uncommon wintering species in the Caribbean.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

CUBAN PARROT (BAHAMAS) (Amazona leucocephala bahamensis)

Fantastic looks at Bahama Palms Shore on the island of Abaco. This particular subspecies nests in limestone cavities instead of tree cavities.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

CUBAN PEWEE (Contopus caribaeus)

Seen in the pine forest of Abaco and Andros islands.

LA SAGRA'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus sagrae)

Common in a variety of habitats (coppice and pine forest) on Abaco and Andros islands.

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

A few had arrived back on Andros Island. This species largely vacates the Northern Bahamas in the winter months.

LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus bahamensis)

Seen well on Abaco Island, but again on Andros, too.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

One on Abaco Island.

THICK-BILLED VIREO (Vireo crassirostris crassirostris)

Very common on all the islands.

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After Eleuthera, we moved to Andros Island where this striking Red-legged Thrush was photographed by Paul Beerman.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

One was seen on Abaco Island.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Rare on Andros Island where we had several struggling against a west wind.

BAHAMA SWALLOW (Tachycineta cyaneoviridis) [E]

Seen well on Abaco Island, but again at Fresh Creek, Andros.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Seen on Abaco and Eleuthera.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

Heard and seen in the coppice on Andros Island.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)

Expanding throughout the Bahamas now; we saw a pair on Abaco Island. I saw my first individuals on Eleuthera Island just a few years back.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)


BAHAMA MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gundlachii)

Seen well on Eleuthera Island, but also fairly common on Andros.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Common on all the islands.

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Another great capture by Doug Clarke of the endemic Bahama Oriole found only on Andros Island.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

RED-LEGGED THRUSH (BAHAMAS) (Turdus plumbeus plumbeus)

A pair was seen nicely on Abaco Island.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Just one on Eleuthera.

Spindalidae (Spindalises)


This particular subspecies was seen on Andros Island.


Seen several times in coppice and pine forest on Abaco Island.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

BAHAMA ORIOLE (Icterus northropi) [E]

Good numbers were encountered around our hotel on Andros Island. The population seems pretty stable as along as palm trees are available for nesting.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

Singles on a couple of islands.

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

One was on Eleuthera Island.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

On Eleuthera Island and Andros.


BAHAMA YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis rostrata) [E]

A male was seen super well near Bahama Palms Shore on Abaco Island.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

Field Guides Birding Tours
We enjoyed a visit to Captain Bill's Blue Hole on Andros Island. Thanks to participant Brian Johnson for the photo.

KIRTLAND'S WARBLER (Setophaga kirtlandii)

Nice looks at this rare wintering species on Eleuthera at the secret spot.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Small numbers on all the islands.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

Just one female on Abaco Island.

PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum)

OLIVE-CAPPED WARBLER (Setophaga pityophila)

This species is only found in Cuba and Abaco Island, Bahamas, in the pine forest.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus achrustera)

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

Small numbers of wintering birds on Abaco and Eleuthera islands.


BAHAMA WARBLER (Setophaga flavescens) [E]

This Bahamian endemic was seen several times in the pine forest on Abaco.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Small numbers on Eleuthera Island.

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Leiocephalus carinatus, or Northern Curly-tailed Lizard, is native to the Bahamas. Photo by participant Daphne Gemmill.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BANANAQUIT (BAHAMAS) (Coereba flaveola bahamensis)

This distinctive subspecies was seen on most of the islands.


Good looks at Bahama Palms Shore (Abaco) and again on Andros.

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor)

Seen well on several islands.


GREEN SEA TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)

We saw a pair of them from the ferry landing on Abaco Island.

Totals for the tour: 96 bird taxa and 0 mammal taxa