Culebra Island: BIRDWATCHING

The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1909 as a wildlife preserve subject to naval and lighthouse uses. By 1976, primary jurisdiction for the outlying islands was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With the addition of land on the main island of Culebra in the 1980's, the refuge currently totals approximately l,568 acres.brown booby

The refuge's diverse wildlife habitats include subtropical dry forest, mangrove forest, and numerous small islands. The refuge supports a variety of breeding seabirds including Laughing Gulls, Bridled Terns, Brown Noddies, Roseate Terns, White-tailed, and Red-billed Tropicbirds and three species of Boobies. More than 50,000 seabirds find their way to this tiny dot in the ocean every year to breed and nurture their young. The largest colony, numbering over 15,000 birds, is the Sooty Tern colony located on Flamenco Peninsula. The majority of the species nesting in the area are migratory and are present only from May to September. However, others breed throughout the year.
*The bird illustrations were drawn by ELM from FWS. In their order of appearance in this page they represent the brown booby, the sooty tern, and the white-tailed tropicbird

The Bird Checklist: The following list, as prepared by the FWS, is arranged in the order established by the American Ornithological Union. Symbols in this checklist represent the following:


SP     Spring- March-May
S       Summer- June-August
F       Fall- September-November
W      Winter- December-February


a     Abundant ( A common species which is very numeous)
c     Common (Certain to be seen in a suitable habitat)
u     Uncommon (Present but not certain to be seen)
o     Occasional (Seen only a few times during the season)
r     Rare (Seen at intervals of 2 to 5 yrs.)
x     Accidental (Seen only once or twice)
z     Abundance unknown 

.Endemic       E- Endangered       * Exotic         N- Nesting

GREBES pied-billed grebe/zaramago . o . . o
SHEARWATERS,PETRELS greater shearwater/pampero mayor . x . . .
.. audubon's shearwater/pampero N z o z z
TROPICBIRDS red-billed tropicbird/rabijunco piquicolorado o chirre N o o o o
. white-tailed tropicbird/rabijunco coliblanco, photo
N o o
BOOBIES and GANNETS masked booby/boba enmascarada N u u u u
. brown booby/boba prieta N a a a a
. red-footed booby/boba patirroja N u u u u
PELICANS and their allies brown pelican/pelícano pardo . c c c c
CORMORANTS double-crested cormorant/cormorán crestado . x x
FRIGATEBIRDS magnificent frigatebird/tijereta . c c c c
HERONS,EGRETS, and allies least bittern/martinetito . o r o o
. great blue heron/garzón cenizo . u u u u
. snowy egret/garza blanca . o o o o
. little blue heron/garza azul N u u u u
. tricolored heron/garza pechiblanca . u u u u
. cattle egret/garza ganadera N a a a a
. green-backed heron/martinete N c c c c
. yellow-crowned night-heron/yaboa común N u u u u
WATERFOWL white-cheeked pintail/pato quijada colorada N u u u c
. blue-winged teal/pato zarcel .
. o o
. northern shoveler/pato cuchareta . o o . .
. lesser scaup/pato pechiblanco . . . x .
. ruddy duck/pato chorizo . o . o o
. masked duck/pato dominico . . . r .
VULTURES, HAWKS, and allies osprey/aguila pescadora . o o o o
. red-tailed duck/guaraguao N c c c c
FALCONS merlin/falcón migratorio . u

. american kestrel/falcón común . c c c c

peregrine falcon/falcón peregrino . o . . o
JUNGLEFOWL and QUAIL red junglefowl/gallina y gallo N* c c c c
GUINEAFOWL helmeted guineafowl/guinea torcaz . c c c c
RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS and CRANE clapper rail/pollo de mangle N u u u u
. purple gallinule/gallareta azul . u u u u
. common moorhen/gallareta común N u u u u
. Caribbean coot/gallinazo caribeño N u u u u
OYSTERCATCHERS american oystercatcher/ostrero N u u u u
SHOREBIRDS blacked-bellied plover/playero cabezón . c . . c
. snowy plover/playero blanco E z z z z
. wilson's plover/playero marítimo . c r
. semipalmated plover/playero acollarado . o r

piping plover/plyero melódico E


killdeer/playero sabanero N c c c c

blacked-neck stilt/viuda N c c c c

greater yellowlegs/playero guineilla mayor
c u c c

lesser yellowlegs/playero guineilla menor


solitary sandpiper/playero solitario


willet/playero aliblanco

spotted sindpiper/playero coleador


whimbrel/playero picocorvo


ruddy turnstone/playero turco
o o o o

semipalmated sandpiper/playerito gracioso
c u c c

western sandpiper/playerito occidental
c c

white-rumped sandpiper/playero robadilla blanca
o o

pectoral sandpiper/playero manchado

stilt sandpiper/playero zancudo

u u

short-billed dowitcher/chorlo picocorto
o o

common snipe/becasina


laughing gall/gaviota gallega N a a u r

royal tern/gaviota real N c c o o

arctic tern/gaviota del ártico
o o

sandwich tern/gaviota piguiaguda N o o o u

roseate tern/palometa EN c c c

bridled tern/gaviota monja N c c

sooty tern/gaviota oscura N c c

brown noody/cervera N c c

PIGEONS, DOVES white-crowned pigeon/paloma cabeciblanca N o u o o

scaly-naped pigeon/paloma turca N c c c c

zenaida dove/tórtola cardosantera, photo , photo
N a a a a

white-winged dove/tórtola aliblanca, photo

o o o o

common ground-dove/rolita N a a a a
PARROTS, PARAKEETS brown-throated parakeet/periquito garganta morena N u u u u

orange-fronted parakeet/periquito frente anaranjada

CUCKOOS, photo , photo
yellow-billed cuckoo/pájaro bobo picoamarillo
o o o o

smoothed-billed ani/judio N c c c c

mangrove cuckoo/pájaro bobo menor, photo

o o o o
OWLS short-eared owl/múcaro real N u u u u

Puerto Rican screeched owl/múcaro de Puerto Rico
o o o o
GOATSUCKERS chuck-will's widow/guabairo mayor
r r r r

antillean nighthawk/querequequé antillano
r r

SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRDS antillean mango/zumbador dorado
c c c c

green mango/zumbador verde, photo
(.) r r r r

green-throated carib/zumbador pechiazul,
(.) u u u u

antillean crested humingbird/zumbadorcito crestado N o o o o
KINGFISHERS belted kingfisher/martín pescador
o o o o
FLYCATCHERS gray kingbird/pitirre, photo
N a a a a

Puerto Rican flycatcher/juí de Puerto Rico, photo
(.) r r r r

caribbean elaenia/juí blanco,

a o o c
MARTINS and SWALLOWS tree swallow/golondrina vientreblanco

caribbean martin/golondrina de iglesias, photo
N u u u u

cave swallow/golondrina de cuevas

barn swallow/golondrina de horquilla
c c
THRASHERS northern mockingbird/ruiseñor N a a a a

pearly-eyed thrasher/zorzal pardo N a a a a
VIREOS white-eyed virio/julián chiví ojiblanco


black-whiskered vireo/julián chiví N o
u u

red-eyed vireo/julián chiví ojirrojo

WARBLERS,photo1, photo2,
photo3, photo4, photo5
northern parula/reinita pechidorada


yellow warbler/canario de mangle
o o o o

chestnut-sided warbler/reinita costadicastaña

cape may warbler/reinita tigre


black-throated blue warbler/reinita azul


yellow-rumped warbler/reinita coronada


yellow-throated warbler/reinita gargantiamarilla


prairie warbler/reinita galana
c c o o

palm warbler/reinita palmera

r r

black-and-white warbler/reinita trepadora
u u

american redstart/candelita
u u

bananaquit/reinita comeun,
N a a a a

prothonotary warbler/reinita anaranjada
u u

ovenbird/pizpita dorada
u u

northern waterthrush/pizpita de mangle


louisiana waterthrush/pizpita de río/

yellow-faced grassquit/gorrión barba amarilla
o o o o

black-faced grassquit/gorrión negro N c c c c

shiny cowbird/tordo lustroso
u u u

greater antillean grackle/mozambique, chango N c c c c

troupial/turpial N u u u u

hooded warbler/reinita de capucha


The illustrations on this page were taken from Fish and Wildlife Service' Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge, August, 1997.

Ethics for Birdwatching

Take care not to disturb nesting birds, exposing eggs and young to extreme temperatures and predation.
Disturb wintering wildlife as little as possible, particularly during critical feeding and resting periods. They need all of their energy reserves to withstand the stresses of harsh weather and migration.

sooty tern
white-tailed tropicbird

Do not litter.Many birds die when they become entangled in fishing lines, 6-pack rings and other trash, or when they mistake garbage for food, This checklist is based on observations by refuge personnel and visiting ornithologists. If you should find an unlisted species, please let the Fish and Wildlife personnel know at the Culebra Refuge Headquarters. They will appreciate your updating their records.
For additioanl information, contact:

Culebra National Wildlife Refuge Manager
P.O. Box 190
Culebra, Puerto Rico 00775
Tel./Fax: 787-742-0115


P. O. Box 313, Culebra, P.R. 00775, Tel. 787-742-3343

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