Water Island, US Virgin Islands

List of birds of the US Virgin Islands

This is a list of the bird species recorded in the US Virgin Islands. The avifauna of the US Virgin Islands includes a total of 232 species, of which 6 have been introduced by humans, and 19 are rare or accidental. 6 species are globally threatened.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for the US Virgin Islands.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. It must be noted that not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring, native species.

  • (A) Accidental A species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the US Virgin Islands.
  • (I) Introduced A species introduced to the US Virgin Islands as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions.

Table of contents
Non-passerines: Grebes . Shearwaters and Petrels . Storm-Petrels . Tropicbirds . Pelicans . Boobies and Gannets . Cormorants . Frigatebirds . Bitterns, Herons and Egrets . Ibises and Spoonbills . Flamingos . Ducks, Geese and Swans . New World vultures . Osprey . Hawks, Kites and Eagles . Caracaras and Falcons . New World quails . Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots . Oystercatchers . Avocets and Stilts . Plovers and Lapwings . Sandpipers and allies . Skuas and Jaegers . Gulls . Terns . Skimmers . Pigeons and Doves . Parrots, Macaws and allies . Cuckoos and Anis . Typical owls . Nightjars . Swifts . Hummingbirds . Kingfishers . Woodpeckers and allies .
Passerines: Tyrant flycatchers . Swallows and Martins . Waxwings . Mockingbirds and Thrashers . Thrushes and allies . Starlings . Weavers and allies . Waxbills and allies . Vireos . New World warblers . Bananaquit . Tanagers . Buntings, Sparrows, Seedeaters and allies . Saltators, Cardinals and allies . Troupials and allies . Sparrows .
See also       References

Grebes

Order: Podicipediformes Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Shearwaters and Petrels

Order: Procellariiformes Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Storm-Petrels

Order: Procellariiformes Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm-petrels are relatives of the petrels, and are the smallest of sea-birds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Tropicbirds

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Pelicans

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are 8 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Boobies and Gannets

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Sulidae

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups comprise medium-to-large coastal sea-birds that plunge-dive for fish. There are 9 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Cormorants

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Phalacrocoracidae

The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Frigatebirds

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black and white or completely black, with long wings and deeply-forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are 5 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Bitterns, Herons and Egrets

Order: Ciconiiformes Family: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Ibises and Spoonbills

Order: Ciconiiformes Family: Threskiornithidae

The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Flamingos

Order: Phoenicopteriformes Family: Phoenicopteridae

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Ducks, Geese and Swans

Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 21 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

New World vultures

Order: Falconiformes Family: Cathartidae

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carrion. There are 7 species worldwide, all of which are found only in the Americas, and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Osprey

Order: Falconiformes Family: Pandionidae

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the Osprey. The Osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Hawks, Kites and Eagles

Order: Falconiformes Family: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Caracaras and Falcons

Order: Falconiformes Family: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

New World quails

Order: Galliformes Family: Odontophoridae

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There are 32 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas, and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots

Order: Gruiformes Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Oystercatchers

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Avocets and Stilts

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Plovers and Lapwings

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Sandpipers and allies

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Scolopacidae

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 28 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Skuas and Jaegers

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Gulls

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Terns

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Sternidae

Terns are a group of generally general medium to large sea-birds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Skimmers

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Rynchopidae

Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Pigeons and Doves

Order: Columbiformes Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Parrots, Macaws and allies

Order: Psittaciformes Family: Psittacidae

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and the have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Cuckoos and Anis

Order: Cuculiformes Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Typical owls

Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Nightjars

Order: Caprimulgiformes Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Swifts

Order: Apodiformes Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Hummingbirds

Order: Trochiliformes Family: Trochilidae

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 337 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Kingfishers

Order: Coraciiformes Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Woodpeckers and allies

Order: Piciformes Family: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Tyrant flycatchers

Order: Passeriformes Family: Tyrannidae

Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, have plain colouring. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 429 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas and 5 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Swallows and Martins

Order: Passeriformes Family: Hirundinidae

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Waxwings

Order: Passeriformes Family: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Mockingbirds and Thrashers

Order: Passeriformes Family: Mimidae

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their colouring tends towards dull greys and browns . There are 35 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Thrushes and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Turdidae

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Starlings

Order: Passeriformes Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Weavers and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Ploceidae

The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season. There are 116 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Waxbills and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Estrildidae

The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have a wide variation in plumage colours and pattern. There are 141 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Vireos

Order: Passeriformes Family: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 52 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

New World warblers

Order: Passeriformes Family: Parulidae

The New World warblers are a group of small, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 119 species worldwide and 31 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Bananaquit

Order: Passeriformes Family: Coerebidae

The Bananaquit is a small passerine bird. It has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers and is the only member of the genus Coereba (Vieillot, 1809) and is normally placed within the family Coerebidae, although there is uncertainty whether that placement is correct.

Tanagers

Order: Passeriformes Family: Thraupidae

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. There are 256 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

Buntings, Sparrows, Seedeaters and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Emberizidae

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are species 275 worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Saltators, Cardinals and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Cardinalidae

The cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 43 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Troupials and allies

Order: Passeriformes Family: Icteridae

The icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 98 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the US Virgin Islands.

Sparrows

Order: Passeriformes Family: Passeridae

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the US Virgin Islands.

See also

References

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