Their distinct white plumes and impressive stature — standing at over three feet tall — make them a gorgeous and hard-to-miss staple of Floridian wildlife. And these massive water birds are easily distinguishable from their cousins — the brown pelicans — due to their snow-white complexion, striking yellow-orange beak and black flight-feathers, which are only visible with wings expanded. But while the two species may look similar at a distance, they are markedly different up close. This beautiful bird uses its flat, spatula-shaped bill to feed in shallow waters on small creatures — everything from insects to frogs.
The CBT is being developed to raise global awareness of the unique birds and biodiversity of the Caribbean and to create a sustainable economy around these rare species, in an effort to protect them. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all flying off to Venezuela, although some undoubtedly will reach the South American coast.
There are a number of environmental factors that have made Bonaire a very interesting site for birders to enjoy, and there is always the chance that an alert birder will record the occurrence of an extra-limital bird. The island boasts over species including the Lora Amazon parrotwhich is now protected against capture by international treaty.
This guide provides an in-depth look into the birds of Washington Slagbaai National Park. It has photographs of some of the more common birds with descriptions. Ligon Most of the species of birds that have been officially recorded for Bonaire, with a few notable exceptions, are affiliated with xerophytic and thorny scrub and cactus wilderness type vegetation.
Exceptions are the water-dominated habitats: Exceptional birding can be expected if the island is under the influence of a heavier than normal year of rainfall average, 22 incheswhen freshwater impoundments can attract many rare and unusual migrants from both North and South America.
This area forms the center of the nesting range of the endangered Yellow-shouldered Parrot Amazona barbadensis rothschildiwhich is often confused with Caribbean or Brown-throated Parakeet Aratinga pertinax xanthogenius. Get pet store parakeets out of your mind budgerigars when observing our parakeets and look for the mourning dove-sized parakeets, with similar-sized elongated tail feathers, to have brilliant orange- yellow faces and heads, and the Yellow-shouldered Parrots to be the size of rock doves, with similar short tails, and to be same green color on both upper and lower body with small amount of yellow on sides of the face, and on bend of the wing.
Other notables of the woodlands and also often found around the hotels and residential yards are Bananaquit Coereba flaveolavery colorful orioles of two species, Troupial Icterus icteruswhich is orange and black, and Yellow oriole Icterus nigrogularis.
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvuslooking a lot like our Northern from North America, but missing the bright wing patch, if you look closely, and very common Black-faced Grassquits Tiaris bicolor.
Only two species of hummingbirds here but like hummingbirds everywhere, they get their share of attention. The largest, Ruby Topaz, Chrysolampis mosquitus with rufous on the tail of both adults and a male with a splendid, fiery-red gorget and glistening orange-red crown, and the smaller, Common Emerald Chlorostilbon mellisugus can be found at many sites where flowers are conspicuous, but neither come readily to hummingbird feeders.
Bring a flashlight, and here, after dark, the nightjars come in to feed on moths that are attracted to the 4 street lamps, and often can be seen perched on the fence that borders the microwave tower. Otherwise, driving along dirt roads after dark may reveal these secretive goat-suckers, with fiery-red glowing eye-shine.
You will find five species of doves and pigeons, six, if you count rock dove, here on Bonaire. Most of them are of limited geographical distribution, which makes them sought after species for most intense birders while on Bonaire. Very large and all dark is the Red-necked or Scaly-naped Pigeon, Columba squamosa which should be easily seen as you drive through the countyside, and is only found in the Greater and Lesser Antilles islands.
A bit smaller with conspicuous white wing patch is Bare-eyed Pigeon Columba corensiswhich is only found on the arid Caribbean islands along the Colombian and Venezuelean coasts.
A bit smaller and appearing most like mourning dove from North America is Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculataexcept eared dove does not have elongated central tail feathers and white corners, but equal length tail feathers and cinnamon-colored corners.
About the same size and more of a forest dweller, and found in Central and South America, but missing from the West Indies is the White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi.
Our smallest, and probably the most common bird on Bonaire is Common Ground Dove Columbigallina passerinawhich is sparrow sized with an attractive, scaly-patterned throat, and has a wide geographical range throughout the tropical regions of the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Snowy Egret, image by Elly Albers The southern end of the island is the driest section of the island and consists of the salt works and a breeding preserve of 55 ha acres established for the flamingos whose numbers can vary from a few thousand to near twenty thousand, depending on several variables.
Also along the southern coasts and inland where water accumulates can be found many species of waders and shorebirds, such as both color morphs, normal and white, of Reddish Egret Egretta rufescensTricolored Herons Egretta tricolorGreen Heron Butorides virescensGreat Egrets Ardea albaSnowy Egrets, Egretta thula and Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias.
Also many of the smaller shorebirds, both Greater and Lesser Yellowleg species, dowitchers, sandpipers, plovers, including the rare Collared Plover Charadrius collaris from South America, are here in winter or on migration. Juvenile Snowy Plover, image by Elly Albers In the mangrove marshes along the eastern coast, one can find many of the previously mentioned water dwelling birds and roosting Magnificent Frigatebirds Fregata magnificensBrown Pelicans Pelecanus occidentalisneither of which nest on Bonaire.
Also, this is the most likely site for both species of night herons, Black-crowned Nycticorax nycticorax and Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea and Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea.
This is the area to scrutinize carefully, especially around dawn for many rare migrants that use the mangrove marsh for feeding and resting sites.
During the spring, the eastern deciduous forest birds, come through Bonaire in their breeding colors, especially the males, and add excitement to days afield when local birds are complemented by these colorful visitors. Just this past summer, a very astute birder from National Audubon Society, discovered and photographed the first record of Western Tanager for the southern Caribbean, while birding on Bonaire, so, like birding anywhere along migration paths, one never knows what will show up, and Bonaire offers many surprises for visitors who mistakenly think that Bonaire is only for divers and snorkelers.While working on her masters, she designed and implemented an augmented reality sandbox to aid in the education of topography and watershed interactions.
More recently, she has worked as a naturalist for the Poudre Learning Center in Greeley, Colorado and for YMCA Camp Carter in Fort Worth, Texas. A bird book that is available on the island is the “Bonaire Bird Guide“, published in in a cooperation between STINAPA, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, and Vogelbescherming Nederland.
This guide provides an in-depth look into the birds of Washington Slagbaai National Park. Bird Feeding FAQ Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about attracting and feeding birds.
1. Why do the birds throw so much seed on the ground? Because yes, increasingly, the advice that is coming from many municipalities, as well as bird conservation groups is: don’t feed the birds at the seaside this summer or else!
Ok To Feed A Beach Bird A Bagel? Wrong BANNED! In some areas of the world, feeding the birds is actually banned. Swooping birds can be a frightening experience.
However, not all birds swoop to protect their eggs and young during breeding season, so don't be concerned simply because there are magpies or other common swooping birds in the area. Now, many of us don’t feed the birds, but that doesn’t stop them from stealing our beach eats.
Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George a .