The southern Caribbean bird migration event is a treat for avid birders and photographers. Every year there is a mass exodus from the cold shores of the north to the warm islands of the Caribbean. These visitors do not spare a minute booking tickets, arranging accommodation, or planning itineraries of things to do in the Caribbean. There is no time to pack bags or to check that carry-on bags meet security requirements because they travel light.
Bird migration is as old as the saying that “birds fly south for the winter.” South can be anywhere from the islands in the Caribbean to the southern tip of South America. In some cases, the Caribbean may be a stopover for travels to South America, and in others, birds end their journeys in the islands. Because of this annual activity, birders have many opportunities to coordinate birdwatching trips and bird surveys.
5 Trips for the Southern Caribbean Bird Migration Experience
To take full advantage of the southern Caribbean bird migration experience, there are a few islands where you can observe these visitors in their temporary homes.
Migratory birds head to Aruba to rest, nest, mate and nurture their offspring. The months of September and October are especially busy because these are the months when temperatures begin to drop in the north. Some of the prime birdwatching spots in Aruba to view migratory birds and resident species are Arikok National Part, the Bubali Plas Bird Sanctuary, Tierra del Sol, the Arashi Lighthouse and Spaans Lagoen. Some of the migratory birds in Aruba are gulls, terns, warblers, falcons, merlins and orsprey.
Bird Watching Tours in Aruba
Some of the bird watching tours in Aruba are:
Located to the east of the Caribbean island chain, Barbados is a stop-off point for birds heading to South America. Given the location of the island, birds that fly over the western Atlantic from the USA and Canada, will most likely stop to rest. Birding areas in Barbados include the Chancery Lane Swamp, the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, Bayfield Pond and the Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge. Some of the migrant bird species which have been record in Barbados are gulls, bitterns, terns, swifts, and cuckoos.
Bird Watching Tours in Barbados
Some of the bird watching tours in Barbados are:
- Birding the Islands: Southern Lesser Antilles
Grenada is a volcanic tropical island with many habitats that are attractive to birds. There are many areas of untouched rainforests, dry woodlands, gullies, wetlands and coastal cliffs which are resting places for visiting birds. Some of the most rewarding birding in Grenada can be seen at Mt. Hartman National Park, Grand Etang National Park, Lake Antoine, and Levera National Park. The best times to see migratory birds are between January to March and July and August. Some of the migratory birds that can be seen on the island are oystercatchers, terns, and warblers.
Bird Watching Tours in Grenada
Some of the bird watching tours in Grenada are:
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
The southern Caribbean bird migration also extends to the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Birds that migrate from the north often rest and rehabilitate in the islands’ offshore inlets and wildlife reserves. Birding areas in St. Vincent include the Soufriere Trail, the Ashton Wetland and the Vermont Nature Trail. In addition to birds migrating from North America, birds from other islands also make their way to the islands. Birds which migrate to St. Vincent and the Grenadines include plovers, lapwings, dotterels, sandpipers, curlews, and tattlers.
Bird Watching Tours in St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Some of the bird watching tours in St. Vincent & the Grenadines are:
- Birding the Islands: Southern Lesser Antilles
Trinidad & Tobago
Birds that make their way south for the winter, often end up in Trinidad and Tobago. The islands, which are extremely close to the South American coast, by way of Venezuela also get visits from birds who migrate south. As a results, the list of visiting birds, which consists of both breeding and non-breeding species is large. When visiting Trinidad for birding, must-see spots are the Caroni Swamp, Aripo Savannah, Nariva Swamp and Waller Field. In Tobago, birders must visit Gilpin Trace. The islands’ bird visitors include flycatchers, swifts, night hawks, king fishers and swallows.
Bird Watching Tours in Trinidad and Tobago
Some of the bird watching tours in Trinidad and Tobago are:
- Wildside Nature Tours: Trinidad and Tobago Tropical Bird Photography Adventure
- Naturalist Journeys: Trinidad & Tobago Independent Travel
- Tropical Birding Tours: Trinidad & Tobago: Neotropic Birding & Scarlet Ibis – Birding Tour
For more information about birds migrating to the southern Caribbean, take a look at the following links:
Birds of Barbados: The Yearly Return of Caribbean Martins
Birds and Blooms: Where Do Migrating Birds Spend the Winter?
Perlut Lab: Caribbean Bird Migration Project
Birds Caribbean: World Migratory Bird Day in the Caribbean: Welcoming Our Birds “Home”
Matias A. Juhant: Where to watch raptor migration in the Caribbean
Prins, Reuter, Debrot, Wattel & Nijman: Checklist of the Birds of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, South Caribbean
Caribbean Birding Trail: Barbados
Bird Life International: Migratory Shorebirds in Barbados: Hunting, Management and Conservation
Next Birds: Birds of Grenada – A Checklist of Birds Found on Grenada
Next Birds: Birds of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Richard French: Possible Intra-Regional Bird Migration in Trinidad and Tobago
Image: Lex Maloney via Unsplash