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Dominica

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus ©Steve Blain Website

The Commonwealth of Dominica (pronounced Domineeca) is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic. It lies between the French Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean's eastern chain of Windward Islands. It acquired independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. The main language is English, though locals speak a variety of French. Luscious vegetation and inherent forest blanket the island's towering territory, a few peaks of which go beyond 4,000 feet in height, while 365 rivers and streams meander their way through ravines and gorges to gush over many waterfalls, producing the island's cooling system and allowing many opportunities to take an exhilarating dip in clear clean waters. Tree ferns, orchids, heliconia and anthurium lilies embellish the forest floor while 175 species of birds, green iguanas, geckoes, tree lizards, agouti, manicou, magnificent butterflies and a vast array of picturesque flora can be enjoyed throughout an island where nature trails are abundant.

Many of the countries 75,000 inhabitants farm bananas, citrus and other tropical fruit on the beautiful mountain banks. Crime is scarce and should not discourage one's sense of freedom and absolute enjoyment. There are no large resorts in Dominica. The largest hotel has only 53 rooms, and is located in the capital city of Roseau.

Dominica is a very exciting place for the bird watcher not only because for its size and position it has a comparatively rich avifauna, but also because it is a place where anything can turn up, much of the island being explored by very few ornithologists. Within an area of less then 800 square kilometres lies a rich variety of habitat - from cloud forest and Montane thicket through tall strands of rain forest to drier scrubbier woodland, and interspersed amongst these are lakes, rock canyons, rivers and water falls, plantations and gardens. The perimeter of the island has stunning sea cliffs between secluded coves and sandy beaches, estuaries, as well as some marshes and swamps. There are few places in the world where one can be clambering in the clouds over an elfin woodland canopy watching blue-headed hummingbirds and plumbeous warblers, then, an hour after be deep within rain forest amongst imperial and red-necked parrots, and an hour after that down at sea level watching ducks, herons, and egrets on the edge of a densely vegetated swamp, or frigate birds, boobies and terns over the Caribbean Sea.

It is perfectly possible to see within a single day all the species of island and Lesser Antillean regional endemics which occur in Dominica, although much more satisfaction will come from spreading this over a longer period, mixing those sightings with observations of other typical avian representatives of the different habitats. During every month of the year, there will be at least some birds visiting Dominica on migration, so one can never predict what unusual species might be seen. The number of known bird species to be seen in Dominica during the various seasons of the year totals 175, including 4 types of native hummingbird. Whether is is the Blue-hooded Euphonia, Mountain Whistler, Broad-winged Hawk or the two native parrot species you wish to see, local guides know just where to find them.

There are a great many choices of prime locations throughout the island, but one top spot is mentioned below.

Top Sites

Morne Diablotin National Park

Satellite View

Sisserou and Jacquot parrots (found only in Dominica) are most commonly sighted in the Syndicate Forest area on the western slopes of the Morne Diablotin National Park. Nearby Milton Falls on the Dublanc River is a perfect picnic spot where you may take a refreshing bath.

Contributor

Dana Sarris

Dominica

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 175

National Bird: Imperial Amazon (Sisserou) Amazona imperialis

Endemics

Number of endemics: 2

Red-necked Parrot Amazona arausiaca Imperial Parrot Amazona imperialis

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies

(Peterson Field Guides) James Bond, Don R. Eckelberry (Illustrator); Arthur B. Singer (Illustrator) Paperback (September 1999) Houghton Mifflin Company

ISBN: 0618002103

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Dominica's Birds

Arlington James, Stephen Durand and Bertrand Jno Baptiste Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division, Dominica 2005

ISBN: 163956

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of the West Indies

By Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith & Janis Raffaele
Helm Field Guides Sept 2003 Paperback RRP ?16.99p
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713654198

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Guides & Tour Operators

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Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Focus on Nature

Tour Operator

…This is the 10th year for our tours on Hispaniola, a very interesting island for birds, with over 20 endemic species. Also a number of rarities, with about 20 species classified by Birdlife International as threatened or nearly so. Both endemic and rare are: the Chat-Tanager (actually now 2 species), LaSelle Thrush, White-necked Crow, White-winged Warbler, Bay-breasted Cuckoo, and Hispaniolan Parakeet…

Nature Island

Tour Operator

Bird-watch field trips with Dominica`s foremost authority. The number of known bird species to be seen in Dominica during the various seasons of the year totals 175, including 4 types of native humming bird. Whether it is the Blue-hooded Euphonia, Mountain Whistler, Broadwinged Hawk or our two native parrot species you wish to see, Bertrand knows just where to find them and, once located, his tripod mounted scope will allow you to observe them closely…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2016 [02 February] - David Ascanio - Lesser Antilles

PDF Report

Our treasure wasn’t gold, nor sugar. It was every one of the endemic or the restricted distribution birds. It seemed as if every island offered a unique challenge to finding these treasures. Barbados was the easy task. In Dominica and Martinique we practiced patience. In Guadeloupe we built a successful group dynamic, while St. Lucia and St. Vincent challenged us with trails. Each day offered a unique experience, as if each of the Lesser Antilles had a distinctive personality.

2016 [04 April] - Jesse Fagan - Lesser Antilles

Report

10 islands, 14 days, 14 flights, 8 hotels, 1 visit to the emergency room, drive on the right, drive on the left,...you get the picture. It requires a lot of action and movement to see these birds! And see them we did. It was another successful island-hopping adventure this year, and the logistics worked out fine on this logistically complicated tour. Even island time seemed faster.

Places to Stay

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3 Rivers Eco Lodge

Accommodation

Broadwinged Hawks, Little Blue Herons, Hummingbirds, Anis and many other species are seen daily at 3 Rivers. If it is birds that you would like to see, then the two species of indigenous parrot, The Sisserou and The Jaco are likely to visit us while you are here…

Papillote Wilderness Retreat

Accommodation

More than 50 bird species nest in Dominica and many of them are common visitors to the Papillote Gardens. Three species of hummingbird, including the Purple-Throated Carib (pictured above in a rare moment of repose) dash through our gardens on a daily basis, stopping here and there -- but just for a moment! - to draw life-giving nectar from the dozens of flowering varieties that flourish beneath an arching canopy of majestic palm trees.

Picard Beach Cottages

Accommodation

Situated on a golden sand beach, in a garden of flowering tropical shrubs on the north-east coast of Dominica, at the foot of the island`s highest mountain, Morne Diablotin - preserve of the endangered indigenous Sisserou parrot; One mile south of the city of Portsmouth; 20 miles along the north coast from Melville Hall Airport; 25 miles along the west coast from Canefield Airport.

Organisations

Rare Species Conservatory Foundation

Website

Overseas conservation projects focus on several species of critically endangered Caribbean parrots including the Imperial and red-neck Amazon parrots of Dominica and the St. Vincent Amazon parrot from St. Vincent…

Reserves

Cabrits National Park

Information

Satellite View

Cabrits National Park is located on the northwestern coast of Dominica, an area of 1,313 acres of upland and 1,053 acres of marine or underwater park…

Morne Trois Pitons National Park

Webpage

Satellite View

Luxuriant natural tropical forest blends with scenic volcanic features of great scientific interest in this national park centred on the 1,342m high volcano known as Morne Trois Pitons…

Other Links

Checklist - Birds of Dominica

Checklist

Imperial Amazon Amazona imperialis

Website

The Imperial Amazon is the largest, and probably the most spectacular, species in the genus Amazona. Adult birds have dark maroon-purple feathers on the head, variably tinged with greenish-blue and tipped with black…

The Caribbean's Best Kept Secret

Website

Dominica itself has recorded less than 200 species, but don't be dissuaded from visiting by this lack of variety…