Birds of the West Indies

Birds of the West Indies


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691113197
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/22/2003
Series: Princeton Field Guides , #26
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 449,132
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Herbert Raffaele is Chief of the Office of International Conservation of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. He is the author of A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Princeton).

Read an Excerpt


By Herbert Raffaele James Wiley Orlando Garrido Allan Keith Janis Raffaele

Princeton University Press

Copyright © 2003 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-691-11319-7

Chapter One

* GREATER SHEARWATER Puffinus gravis 48cm (19in). One of two large shearwaters in West Indies; noticeable white bands on hindneck and rump contrast with black cap and dark grayish-brown upperparts. STATUS AND RANGE: Uncommon non-breeding resident among Bahamas and off Puerto Rico primarily May through July, but can occur any month. Likely rare through rest of West Indies during these months. HABITAT: At sea.

* CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea 46-53cm (18-21in). Large shearwater, appears featureless at distance. Pale yellowish bill, white uppertail-coverts variable in extent; coloration of cheek and neck blend with underparts. FLIGHT: Leisurely on broad, loosely held wings, noticeably angled at wrist. STATUS AND RANGE: Uncommon migrant among Bahamas primarily May and June, but until September. Rare in rest of West Indies; likely transits off all islands. HABITAT: At sea.

* BLACK-CAPPED PETREL Pterodroma hasitata 35-40cm (14-16in). Upperparts blackish except for white rump, hindneck and forehead. Extent of white variable. FLIGHT: Black front-edge of underwing. Wrist more bent than shearwater's and flight more erratic. STATUS AND RANGE: Rare and very local breeding resident in West Indies. Critically endangered. HABITAT: At sea.

* JAMAICAN PETREL Pterodroma caribbaea 35-46cm (14-18in). Dark gray overall, except white rump and uppertail-coverts; legs and feet pinkish-white. STATUS AND RANGE: Endemic to Jamaica, but believed extinct. May persist in John Crow Mountains. HABITAT: At sea.

* SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus 40-46cm (16-18in). Medium-sized, blackish overall with whitish underwings. Wings long and narrow. FLIGHT: Swift and direct, with rapid flapping ascents and long glides usually close to the water. STATUS AND RANGE: Apparently rare migrant in West Indies primarily late May through July, but some through November. Might be expected any month. HABITAT: At sea.

* MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus 30-38cm (12-15in). Medium-sized; short tail. Blackish above and white below, including wing linings and undertail-coverts. FLIGHT: Four or five distinctive snappy wingbeats and a rocking glide in light winds or flat seas. STATUS AND RANGE: Rare migrant in West Indies primarily November through March. HABITAT: At sea.

* AUDUBON'S SHEARWATER Puffinus lherminieri 30cm (12in). Relatively small, long-tailed shearwater, blackish-brown above and white below, but with dark undertail-coverts. STATUS AND RANGE: The only shearwater regularly encountered in West Indies. In the Bahamas, a common breeding resident primarily March through July; uncommon in other months. Elsewhere in West Indies a generally uncommon and local breeding resident, rare outside breeding season. HABITAT: At sea.

* BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL Oceanodroma castro 19-21cm (7.5-8in). Mediumsized; black head and upperparts. Conspicuous narrow white rump band contrasts with blackish tail and underparts; square tail. FLIGHT: Buoyant and direct, though sometimes erratic and shearwater-like with deep wingbeats. Feet do not extend beyond tail. STATUS AND RANGE: Very rare off Bahamas, Cuba, and Antigua. Expected primarily May through August. Status in West Indies poorly known. HABITAT: At sea.

* LEACH'S STORM-PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa 20cm (8in). A small, brownish-black seabird with white rump. Has slightly forked tail, pale brown wing band, and white rump patch appearing divided at close range. FLIGHT: Feet do not extend beyond tail. STATUS AND RANGE: Rare non-breeding resident throughout West Indies primarily November through June, but sometimes in other months. HABITAT: At sea.

* WILSON'S STORM-PETREL Oceanites oceanicus 18-19cm (7-7.5in). Small, dark brownish-black seabird with white rump. Blacker, wings shorter, broader and more rounded with less angled wrists than Leach's Storm-Petrel, also tail more square. FLIGHT: Feet, with yellow toe-webbing, extend beyond tail. Regularly follows boats, swooping over wake and touching sea with feet. STATUS AND RANGE: Rare non-breeding resident in much of West Indies primarily May and June. Most frequent among Bahamas where uncommon. HABITAT: At sea.

* WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD Phaethon lepturus 81cm (31in) (with plumes), 37-40cm (15-16in) (without plumes). ADULT: White overall; long tail feathers; heavy black stripes on upperwing and outer primaries. Bill yellow or orange. IMMATURE: Barred back; short central tail feathers. Bill yellowish, ringed with black. VOICE: Raspy crick-et. STATUS AND RANGE: Widespread; very locally common breeding resident in West Indies primarily March through June (through October in Bahamas). The typical tropicbird of Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Cayman Islands; scarcer in Lesser Antilles. HABITAT: At sea.

* RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD Phaethon aethereus 91-107cm (36-42in) (with plumes), 46-51cm (18-20in) (without plumes). ADULT: White overall; black barred back; long tail plumes; red bill. IMMATURE: Similar to White-tailed, but back less boldly barred, darker black band across hindneck. VOICE: Long, harsh, raspy keéarrr. STATUS AND RANGE: Common in Virgin Islands; uncommon and very local resident throughout Lesser Antilles and on Culebra off Puerto Rico. HABITAT: At sea.

* AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN Pelecanus erythrorhynchos 125-165cm (49-64in). Huge size, massive bill, white coloration. Black primaries and outer secondaries. BREEDING ADULT: Bill orange-yellow, knob on upper mandible; hindcrown and hindneck tan. NONBREEDING ADULT: Bill orange-yellow; hindcrown and hindneck gray. IMMATURE: Bill gray. STATUS AND RANGE: Very rare non-breeding resident in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Vagrant elsewhere in West Indies. May occur in any month. HABITAT: Freshwater lakes and coastal bays.

* BROWN PELICAN Pelecanus occidentalis 107-137cm (42-54in). Large size, massive bill, dark coloration. BREEDING ADULT: Reddish-brown hindneck and back of head, though infrequently the hindneck remains white. NON-BREEDING ADULT: White hindneck and back of head. IMMATURE: Overall grayish-brown; paler below. STATUS AND RANGE: Common resident in southern Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and locally in northern Lesser Antilles east to Montserrat. Uncommon to rare through rest of West Indies. HABITAT: Bays, lagoons, other calm coastal waters.

* RED-FOOTED BOOBY Sula sula 66-76cm (26-30in). ADULT: Brown phase Brown, with white hindparts and tail. WHITE PHASE All white, with black primaries and secondaries. IMMATURE: Sooty brown; paler below, sometimes slightly darker breast band. VOICE: Guttural ga-ga-ga-ga, of variable length-trails off. Also distinctive squawk. STATUS AND RANGE: Widespread, but very local resident in West Indies. Abundant near remote roosting and nesting islands. Not often seen from shore. HABITAT: At sea.

* BROWN BOOBY Sula leucogaster 71-76cm (28-30in). ADULT: Entirely brown head sharply demarcated from white belly and abdomen. IMMATURE: Light brown belly and abdomen. VOICE: Hoarse kak. STATUS AND RANGE: Fairly common resident offshore throughout West Indies; locally abundant near breeding grounds. Very rare or absent only from northern Bahamas. HABITAT: Bays, coastal areas, and at sea.

* MASKED BOOBY Sula dactylatra 81-91cm (32-36in). ADULT: Primarily white; black tail, primaries, and secondaries. SUBADULT: Similar to adult, but upperparts brown on head and rump; brown flecks on wing-coverts. IMMATURE: Head and upperparts brown with white hindneck. Underparts white except throat, undertail and flight feathers. STATUS AND RANGE: Very rare and local resident in West Indies. Threatened. HABITAT: At sea.

* MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD Fregata magnificens 94-104cm (37-41in). Long, forked tail; long, slender, pointed wings sharply bent at wrist; floats motionless in air. ADULT MALE: Black. During courtship, inflatable throat pouch bright red. ADULT FEMALE: Blackish, white breast. IMMATURE: Blackish; head and breast white. STATUS AND RANGE: Common but somewhat local resident throughout West Indies. HABITAT: Bays, inshore waters and offshore cays.

* NORTHERN GANNET Morus bassanus 100cm (40in). IMMATURE: Dark gray above, flecked white on wings and mantle. Paler below. ADULT: White with tan crown and black wingtips. Immatures are most likely in West Indies. STATUS AND RANGE: Rare in Bahamas September through May. HABITAT: At sea.

* GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus 69-79cm (27-31in). STATUS AND RANGE: Uncommon in northern Bahamas October through March; rare in Puerto Rico; vagrant elsewhere in West Indies. Numbers are increasing. HABITAT: Beaches and calm bays. (See also Plate 5.)

* LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus 53-63cm (21-25in). STATUS AND RANGE: Fairly common locally in northern Bahamas. Very rare elsewhere in West Indies November through April. Numbers increasing. HABITAT: Beaches, calm bays, and dumps. (See also Plate 5.)

* RING-BILLED GULL Larus delawarensis 46-51cm (18-20in). STATUS AND RANGE: Fairly common but local non-breeding resident in northern Bahamas and Puerto Rico; uncommon in southern Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Cayman Islands, and Barbados; rare in Jamaica, Virgin Islands, and Lesser Antilles south to St Vincent. Occurs in all months, but primarily December through March. Numbers increasing. HABITAT: Coastal harbors, lagoons, and open ground from parking lots to grassy fields. Often urban areas. (See also Plate 5.)

* HERRING GULL Larus argentatus 56-66cm (22-26in). STATUS AND RANGE: Generally uncommon and local non-breeding resident in Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, and Cayman Islands September through May and rare June through August. Rare in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands; very rare in Lesser Antilles October through March. Numbers increasing. HABITAT: Coastal areas, harbors, and lagoons. (See also Plate 5.)

* BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla 43cm (17in). STATUS AND RANGE: Very rare in Bahamas December through March; vagrant elsewhere. HABITAT: Far offshore. (See also Plate 6.)

* BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus 39-43cm (15-17in). STATUS AND RANGE: Rare and local non-breeding resident in Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (St Thomas and St Croix), Guadeloupe, and Barbados. Vagrant elsewhere in West Indies. Occurs November through June. Numbers increasing. HABITAT: Coastal harbors. (See also Plate 6.)

* BONAPARTE'S GULL Larus philadelphia 30.5-36cm (12-14in). STATUS AND RANGE: Uncommon non-breeding resident in Cuba and locally in Bahamas August through April. Rare on Barbuda. Vagrant elsewhere. HABITAT: Coastal harbors, lagoons, and at sea. (See also Plate 6.)

* BLACK SKIMMER Rynchops niger 40-51cm (16-20in). Unmistakable scissor-like black and orange bill with lower mandible longer than the upper. Often nocturnal. Plows water surface with bill. STATUS AND RANGE: Very rare migrant October through April in Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. Vagrant elsewhere in West Indies. HABITAT: Calm coastal bays and lagoons.

* LAUGHING GULL Larus atricilla 38-43cm (15-17in). STATUS AND RANGE: Widespread resident in West Indies, breeds locally. Generally common April through September; irregular and rare through most of West Indies remainder of year. HABITAT: Calm bays, coastal waters, and islets. (See also Plate 6.)

* GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus 69-79cm (27-31in). Very large, with massive bill. FIRST YEAR: Mottled grayish-brown; head white with pale flecks on rear and hindneck; bill black; tail has broad, black band. SECOND YEAR: Bill pinkish with large black band near tip, rump white, mantle with black blotches. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Black mantle, pink legs, pale flecks on head, bill yellow with red spot near tip. BREEDING ADULT: Head white. (See also Plate 4.)

* LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus 53-63cm (21-25in). Large, with large bill. FIRST YEAR: Mottled grayish; head brownish in contrast. SECOND YEAR: Bill pinkish with large black band near tip. Broad, black tail band; white rump; brownish-gray wings with no white spots at tip. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Dark grayish-black mantle, pale yellow legs, yellow bill with red spot near tip. BREEDING ADULT: Head and neck white. (Great Black-backed Gull larger; bill more massive. Adult Herring Gull has paler mantle and pink legs; first and second year birds have less pronounced white rump patch.) (See also Plate 4.)

* HERRING GULL Larus argentatus 56-66cm (22-26in). Large, with large bill. FIRST YEAR: Back and wings heavily streaked grayish-brown, bill pinkish at base, tipped black; tail lacks clear band; legs pink. SECOND YEAR: Variable gray on back and wings; outer primaries black; bill pinkish with pale gray band beyond nostril. THIRD YEAR: Tail white with broad black band; bill yellowish with dark band. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Heavy yellow bill with red spot near tip of lower mandible; head and underparts white; legs pink. BREEDING ADULT: Head and underparts white. (See also Plate 4.)

* RING-BILLED GULL Larus delawarensis 46-51cm (18-20in). Fairly large, with medium-sized bill. FIRST YEAR: Mottled grayish-brown wings; gray back. Broad black tail band; bill pinkish, tipped black. SECOND YEAR: Upperparts and mantle mostly gray; black primaries with white spot at tip. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Bill yellowish with black band; legs yellowish-green. BREEDING ADULT: White head and underparts. Smaller than Herring Gull, more delicate head and bill, yellowish-green or grayish-green legs. (Herring Gull lacks bill ring and has pink legs.) (See also Plate 4.)

* LAUGHING GULL Larus atricilla 38-43cm (15-17in). BREEDING ADULT: Black head; dark gray mantle; black wingtips; reddish bill. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Similar, but diffuse gray mark on rear of white head; bill black. IMMATURE: Mottled gray-brown; belly whitish. FIRST YEAR: White rump; gray sides and back; broad black tail band. SECOND YEAR: Partial hood; spotting on tail; mantle slaty. VOICE: Squawky, variable caw and caw-aw. Also laugh-like kakaka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kaa-kaa-kaaa-kaaa. (See also Plate 4.)

* BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla 43cm (17in). FIRST YEAR: White head; black ear-spot, bill, and terminal tail band. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Yellow bill; white head, black mark behind eye; gray mantle; black wingtips with no white. BREEDING ADULT: Head entirely white. First year distinguished from Bonaparte's Gull by black half collar on hindneck and white trailing edge of secondaries. FLIGHT: Wings and mantle marked with contrasting 'W'. (See also Plate 4.)

* BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus 39-43cm (15-17in). FIRST YEAR: Black earspot; two-toned bill; narrow, black tail band; gray undersides to primaries. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Bill reddish, black tipped; mantle pale gray; outer primaries white, tipped black. BREEDING ADULT: Head black; bill red. (Bonaparte's Gull lacks pale gray undersides to primaries.) (See also Plate 4.)

* BONAPARTE'S GULL Larus philadelphia 30.5-36cm (12-14in). FIRST YEAR: Black earspot; thin black bill; narrow black tail band; whitish undersides to primaries. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Mantle pale gray, tail and outer primaries white; legs red. BREEDING ADULT: Head black. (Black-headed Gull has gray undersides to primaries.) (See also Plate 4.)

* FRANKLIN'S GULL Larus pipixcan 37cm (14.5in). FIRST YEAR: Narrow black tail band; white breast and underparts; gray back; partial blackish hood, and white forehead. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Similar, but only partial black hood; whitish forehead. BREEDING ADULT: Black head; slaty mantle and wingtips with black bar bordered with white on both sides. First year and non-breeding adults have more distinctive partial black hood and white forehead. STATUS AND RANGE: Vagrant in West Indies. HABITAT: Bays and estuaries.

* CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia 48-58cm (19-23in). Large tern with long, stout, red bill; black crest; dark gray underside to primaries. NON-BREEDING ADULT: Crest flecked white. BREEDING ADULT: Crest black. IMMATURE: Bill orange-red. (Royal Tern smaller, bill orange-yellow, underside of primaries pale; forehead white in non-breeding plumage.) STATUS AND RANGE: Common very locally and may breed in Cuba. Rare non-breeding resident locally in Bahamas, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Barbados. Very rare in Puerto Rico and Cayman Islands. Occurs any month. HABITAT: Coastal lagoons.

* ROYAL TERN Sterna maxima 46-53cm (18-21in). Large tern with orange-yellow bill and black crest. BREEDING ADULT: Crown entirely black. NON-BREEDING ADULT AND IMMATURE: Forehead white. VOICE: Harsh, high-pitched kri-i-ik. STATUS AND RANGE: Common, but local resident in Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Virgin and Cayman Islands; generally fairly common in Lesser Antilles. Breeds very locally. HABITAT: Coastal lagoons. (Continues...)

Excerpted from BIRDS OF THE WEST INDIES by Herbert Raffaele James Wiley Orlando Garrido Allan Keith Janis Raffaele Copyright © 2003 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Species Accounts and Colour Plates 16
Selected References 204
Index of English and Scientific Names 206

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Though the previous A Guide To The Birds of The West Indies is unparalleled in its depth, this handy guide is what we were waiting for. It saves us the pains of lugging its bigger predecesor into swamps, jungles and fields, without sacrificing key information and wonderful drawings.