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 - 1500 m
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 Red List category
Bridled Quail-dove (Geotrygon mystacea) LC
Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi) CR
Lesser Antillean Swift (Chaetura martinica) LC
Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis) LC
Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus) LC
Blue-headed Hummingbird (Riccordia bicolor) LC
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus) LC
Guadeloupe Woodpecker (Melanerpes herminieri) LC
Red-necked Amazon (Amazona arausiaca) VU
Saint Lucia Amazon (Amazona versicolor) VU
Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) CR
Saint Vincent Amazon (Amazona guildingii) VU
Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica) LC
Lesser Antillean Pewee (Contopus latirostris) LC
Lesser Antillean Flycatcher (Myiarchus oberi) LC
Grenada Flycatcher (Myiarchus nugator) 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
Saint 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
Saint Lucia Warbler (Setophaga delicata) LC
(Tangara cucullata) NR
Lesser Antillean Saltator (Saltator albicollis) LC
(Melopyrrha portoricensis) NR
Barbados Bullfinch (Loxigilla barbadensis) LC
Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis) LC
(Loxigilla noctis) NR
Saint Lucia Black Finch (Melanospiza richardsoni) EN

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

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 (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Lesser Antilles. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/eba/factsheet/26 on 25/09/2023.