British Virgin Islands

Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica ©Birding Ecotours Website
Birding the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a British overseas territory, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, the remaining islands constituting the U.S. Virgin Islands. Technically the name of the Territory is simply the “Virgin Islands”, but in practice since 1917 they have been almost universally referred to as the “British Virgin Islands” to distinguish the islands from the American Territory. To add to the regional confusion, the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra, Vieques and surrounding islands began referring to themselves as the “Spanish Virgin Islands” as part of a tourism drive in the early 2000s.The British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. Approximately fifteen of the islands are inhabited. The largest island, Tortola, is approximately 20 km (approx. 12 mi) long and 5 km (approx. 3 mi) wide. The islands have a total population of about 22,000, of whom approximately 18,000 live on Tortola. Road Town, the capital, is situated on Tortola.

The British Virgin Islands comprise around sixty tropical Caribbean islands, ranging in size from the largest, Tortola 20 km (approx. 12 mi) long and 5 km (approx. 3 mi) wide, to tiny uninhabited islets. They are located in the Virgin Islands archipelago, a few miles east of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The North Atlantic Ocean lies to the north of the islands, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the south. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin and have a hilly, rugged terrain. Anegada is geologically distinct from the rest of the group and is a flat island composed of limestone and coral. In addition to the four main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke.

The British Virgin Islands enjoy a tropical climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. In the capital, Road Town, typical daily maxima are around 32 °C (90 °F) in the summer and 29 °C (84 °F) in the winter. Typical daily minima are around 24 °C (75 °F) in the summer and 21 °C (70 °F) in the winter. Rainfall averages about 1150 mm (45 in) per year, higher in the hills and lower on the coast. Rainfall can be quite variable, but the wettest months on average are September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, with the hurricane season running from June to November.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 204

    (As at September 2018)

    National Bird: Zenaida Dove Zenaida macroura

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

    | By Herbert A. Raffaele, Cindy J. House, John WiessingerHardcover - 272 pages ( 1 December, 1989) Princeton University Press ISBN: 9780691024240 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of the West Indies

    | By Guy M Kirwan, Anthony Levesque, Mark W Oberle & Christopher J Sharpe | Lynx Edicions | 2019 | 400 pages, 1600+ colour illustrations, 650+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728176 Buy this book from

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Devil's Bay

    InformationSatellite View
  • NP Mount Healthy

    InformationSatellite View
    The Mount Healthy Windmill is an outstanding symbol of the sugar plantation era in the BVI. It is the only one of its kind remaining in the entire British Virgin Islands.
  • NP Mount Sage

    InformationSatellite View
    The Mount Sage volcanic peak rises to a height of 1,716 feet (523 metres), and is thus the highest point in all of the Virgin Islands. The park is located to the southwest of the island group's capital, Road Town. The park, which includes the mountain range, extends over an area of 96 acres (39 ha). The vegetation is of semi-rain forest type. There are many trails for trekking and hiking. Avifauna includes American kestrel), called kili kili hawk locally, red-tailed hawks, Caribbean martin, mountain dove, and pearly-eyed thrasher.
  • National Parks

    WebpageSatellite View
    Welcome to the National Parks Trust of the British Virgin Islands…
Trip Reports
  • 2009 [03 March] - Russ namitz

    My wife and I were invited to a Caribbean cruise to celebrate my step mother-in-law’s 60 birthday. I was able to bird for a few hours at each port. Not optimal, but with some research and planning, I was able to see 17 life birds.
Places to Stay
  • Mango Bay Resort

    Hikers and nature lovers can explore nearby trails winding through tropical foliage and see endless vistas from hilltops.
Other Links
  • Nature's Little Secrets

    Among our most common birds are the Green-throated Carib, a small iridescent hummingbird; the delicate yellow and black Bananaquita and the American Kestrel, a falcon that can be seen soaring over the islands` valleys in search of prey…

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