Lesser Antilles

Country/Territory Anguilla (to UK),Antigua and Barbuda,Barbados,Dominica,Grenada,Guadeloupe (to France),Martinique (to France),Montserrat (to UK),St Barthelemy (to France),St Kitts and Nevis,St Lucia,St Martin (to France),St Vincent and the Grenadines
Area 6,300 km2
Altitude 0 - 1500m
Priority critical
Habitat loss major
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA comprises those islands of the Lesser Antilles which stretch in an arc from the Greater Antilles (EBAs 025-029) to the north-eastern part of South America (i.e. it excludes the east-west chain of Lesser Antillean islands which lies off the north coast of Venezuela). Adjacent to the north of the EBA are the Virgin Islands (part of EBA 029), and Trinidad and Tobago lie to the south (Secondary Areas s016 and s017). Politically, the Lesser Antillean EBA includes the UK dependent territories of Anguilla and Montserrat, the French overseas départements of Guadeloupe and Martinique (St Barthelemy and the northern part of St Martin are dependencies of Guadeloupe), the northern Netherlands Antilles (southern part of St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius), and the independent territories of St Kitts-Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent (including some of the Grenadines), Barbados, and Grenada (including the rest of the Grenadines).

The EBA's main islands are volcanic and mountainous, while the outlying ones are composed mostly of limestone and are of low relief. Volcanoes on four islands (Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Vincent) have erupted during the twentieth century. The more mountainous islands of Guadaloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia and St Vincent have a rich variety of habitats ranging from rain forest (including lowland and lower montane types), with montane thicket, palm brake and elfin forest along summits, to dry forest and mangroves in the lowlands.

In addition to its restricted-range birds, this EBA is important for many North American migrants and for seabirds, with many of the smaller, uninhabited islands having large and varied seabird breeding populations (see van Halewyn and Norton 1984).

Restricted-range species

This EBA has a particularly distinct avifauna, including seven endemic genera-Catharopeza, Cichlherminia, Cinclocerthia, Cyanophaia, Leucopeza, Melanospiza Ramphocinclus.

Most restricted-range species occur over a wide altitudinal range and in many habitats including dry and rain forest, and, less frequently, montane thickets and elfin forest of the uplands. A few species show more specific habitat requirements: examples are Leptotila wellsi and Ramphocinclus brachyurus which are confined to the dry forest of the lowlands, Catharopeza bishopi and Leucopeza semperi which occur in montane habitats only.

The pattern of distribution between the EBA's islands varies considerably, with only a small number of restricted-range species occurring widely (i.e. on half or more of the islands); there is, nevertheless, sufficient distributional overlap (more sharing than not) for the islands all to be included within a single EBA - though several islands have their own endemic species and are therefore important centres of endemism in their own right: Montserrat (one endemic species), Guadeloupe (one), Dominica (two), Martinique (one), St Lucia (four), St Vincent (two) and Grenada (one). The numbers of restricted-range species occurring on the islands also vary considerably, the three islands with the most being St Lucia (20), Dominica (18) and Martinique (16).

Species IUCN Category
Bridled Quail-dove (Geotrygon mystacea) LC
Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi) CR
Lesser Antillean Swift (Chaetura martinica) LC
Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus) LC
Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis) LC
Blue-headed Hummingbird (Cyanophaia bicolor) LC
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus) LC
Guadeloupe Woodpecker (Melanerpes herminieri) LC
Red-necked Amazon (Amazona arausiaca) VU
St Lucia Amazon (Amazona versicolor) VU
Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) CR
St Vincent Amazon (Amazona guildingii) VU
Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica) LC
Lesser Antillean Flycatcher (Myiarchus oberi) LC
Grenada Flycatcher (Myiarchus nugator) LC
Lesser Antillean Pewee (Contopus latirostris) LC
White-breasted Thrasher (Ramphocinclus brachyurus) EN
Scaly-breasted Thrasher (Allenia fusca) LC
Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus) LC
Brown Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda) LC
Grey Trembler (Cinclocerthia gutturalis) LC
Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis) LC
Forest Thrush (Turdus lherminieri) NT
(Euphonia musica) NR
Martinique Oriole (Icterus bonana) VU
Montserrat Oriole (Icterus oberi) VU
St Lucia Oriole (Icterus laudabilis) EN
Semper's Warbler (Leucopeza semperi) CR
Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi) EN
Plumbeous Warbler (Setophaga plumbea) LC
Adelaide's Warbler (Setophaga adelaidae) LC
Barbuda Warbler (Setophaga subita) VU
St Lucia Warbler (Setophaga delicata) LC
Lesser Antillean Saltator (Saltator albicollis) LC
Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Pyrrhulagra portoricensis) LC
Barbados Bullfinch (Loxigilla barbadensis) LC
Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis) LC
St Lucia Black Finch (Melanospiza richardsoni) EN
(Tangara cucullata) NR
(Loxigilla noctis) NR

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Mount Saint Catherine Grenada
AG002 Codrington Lagoon and the Creek Antigua and Barbuda
AG005 Valley Church Bay Antigua and Barbuda
AG007 Fitches Creek Bay Antigua and Barbuda
AG008 Wallings Forest Antigua and Barbuda
AG009 Christian Valley Antigua and Barbuda
AG010 Potworks Dam Antigua and Barbuda
AG012 Bethesda Dam Antigua and Barbuda
AI004 Cove Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI005 Long Salt Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI006 Grey Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI007 Scrub Island Anguilla (to UK)
AI008 Road Salt Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI009 Cauls Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI010 West End Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI013 Merrywing Pond System Anguilla (to UK)
AI014 Forest Bay Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI015 Katouche Bay Pond Anguilla (to UK)
AI015 Katouche Canyon Anguilla (to UK)
AI016 Mimi Bay Anguilla (to UK)
AN001 Little Bay, Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (to Netherlands)
AN002 Fresh Pond, Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (to Netherlands)
AN004 Fort Amsterdam, Sint Maarten Sint Maarten (to Netherlands)
AN006 Saba Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands)
AN007 Boven, Sint Eustatius Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands)
AN008 The Quill, Sint Eustatius Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands)
BB002 St Lucy Shooting Swamps Barbados
BB003 Graeme Hall Swamp Barbados
BB004 East Point Pond Barbados
BB005 Chancery Lane Swamp Barbados
BB006 St Philip Shooting Swamps Barbados
BB007 Bayfield Pond Barbados
DM001 Morne Diablotin National Park Dominica
DM002 Morne Trois Pitons National Park Dominica
DM003 Point Des Foux Dominica
GD001 Woodford Grenada
GD002 Perseverance Grenada
GD003 Beausejour / Grenville Vale Grenada
GD004 Grand Etang Grenada
GD005 Woodlands of Grenada Grenada
GD006 Mount Hartman Grenada
GP002 Forestry massif of Basse-Terre island Guadeloupe (to France)
GP005 Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin's eastern coastline Guadeloupe (to France)
GP007 Pointe des Châteaux Guadeloupe (to France)
GP008 îlets de la Petite-Terre Guadeloupe (to France)
KN001 St. Kitts Central Forest Reserve St Kitts and Nevis
LC001 Iyanola and Grande Anses, Esperance and Fond D'ors St Lucia
LC002 Castries and Dennery Waterworks Reserve and Marquis St Lucia
LC003 Pitons (Qualibou and Canaries) St Lucia
LC004 Mandelé Protected Landscape St Lucia
MF001 Grand Etang St Martin (to France)
MF002 Pic Paradis St Martin (to France)
MF003 Tintamarre St Martin (to France)
MQ001 Forêts du Nord et de la Montagne Pelée Martinique (to France)
MQ002 Pitons du Carbet Martinique (to France)
MQ004 Presqu'île de la Caravelle Martinique (to France)
MQ006 Mangrove de Fort de France Martinique (to France)
MQ007 Massif forestier entre Le Diamant et les Trois-Îlets Martinique (to France)
MQ009 Grand Macabou Martinique (to France)
MS001 Northern Forested Ghauts Montserrat (to UK)
MS002 Centre Hills Montserrat (to UK)
MS003 South Soufriere Hills Montserrat (to UK)
VC001 La Soufrière National Park St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC002 Richmond Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC003 Mount Pleasant Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC004 Cumberland Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC005 Colonarie Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC006 Dalaway (Buccament) Watershed St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC007 Kingstown Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC008 Campden Park Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC009 Botanic Gardens Natural Landmark St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC010 King's Hill Forest Reserve St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC013 Mustique Island St Vincent and the Grenadines
VC015 Ashton Wetland St Vincent and the Grenadines

Threat and conservation

The islands have suffered large-scale disturbance and destruction of forest ecosystems, mainly as a part of agricultural development. Thus some of the lower-lying limestone islands, such as Antigua and Barbados, have lost most of their natural vegetation, while on the more mountainous islands forest remnants are generally in high and inaccessible areas. Clearance for banana plantations continues on all the mountainous islands, and alteration of habitats for tourist developments (e.g. golf courses) is also a threat.

All the single-island endemics are considered threatened or Near Threatened chiefly as a result of habitat loss, but hunting, trade, brood parasitism and introduced species have all contributed to their decline. The Amazona parrots, in particular, have been the focus of considerable conservation efforts by government and non-government agencies, and consequently their status has improved. Leptotila wellsi remains Critical on Grenada (c.75 birds in 1992), being greatly threatened by chronic and continuing habitat alteration and destruction (plantations, construction developments, agriculture), possibly compounded by predation of fledglings by introduced mongooses. Likewise Ramphocinclus brachyurus has been reduced by habitat destruction and introduced predators to near-extinction in two dry forest areas on the islands of Martinique (15–40 pairs) and St Lucia (c.50 pairs). Leucopeza semperi is very possibly extinct on St Lucia, there being just a handful of records since the 1920s, and it is likely that its disappearance is related to the introduction of the mongoose, with habitat loss inevitably playing a part too. Icterus bonana is present in most habitat types throughout Martinique, but has suffered severe levels of brood-parasitism from the recently established Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis.

The widespread, but threatened (Vulnerable), West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea occurs on St Kitts and Nevis, and on Antigua and Barbuda, where hunting and commercial development of coastal wetlands are threats. The threatened (Endangered) seabird, Black-capped Petrel Pterodroma hasitata, was known in this EBA from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and is still reported from Dominica.

Protected areas of particular note within the EBA are: Guadeloupe National Park (173 km2); Morne Trois Pitons National Park (69 km2) and Syndicate Forest Reserve/Parrot Sanctuary on Dominica; Martinique Regional Nature Park (702 km2); the Parrot Sanctuary (15 km2) on St Lucia; St Vincent Parrot Reserve (44 km2); and the Levera and Grand Etang National Parks on Grenada.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Lesser Antilles. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/10/2022.