Dog Island

Year of compilation: 2006

Site description
A low rocky island 13 kilometres northwest of Anguilla with 3 smaller cays off the west and north coasts. The cliffs and inland areas of scrub are home to Anguilla's largest seabird colonies. The coastline has low cliffs interspersed with 5 sandy beaches. Weathered limestone rocks reach sea level on parts of the west and northeast coast. Two large ponds lie inside beaches at Spring bay and Stoney bay. The centre of the island is covered in impenetrable, low, thorny scrub and thousands of prickly pear cacti. A small herd of c30 feral goats are a remnant of former more extensive grazing by livestock.

Key biodiversity
At least 28 species have been recorded including 9 species of breeding seabird:Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Magnificent Frigate Bird, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Bridle Tern, Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy. The site holds the only Anguillan breeding populations of Magnificent Frigate Bird and Sooty Tern. Surveys in May 2007 documented 113,000 Sooty Terns breeding on Dog Island. Two small ponds and several beaches attract non-breeding and passage wildfowl and shorebirds including White-cheeked pintail, Blue-winged teal, and American Oyster Catcher. Wilsons Plover may breed. Both Osprey and Peregrine Falcons have been recorded outside the breeding season and Caribbean Elaenia, Bananaquits, and Blackfaced Grassquits are the only land birds present. The site has been little visited and requires further study.

Non-bird biodiversity: Dog Island holds populations of several species of reptile: a ground lizard Ameiva plei,a tree lizard Anolis gingivinus, Little Dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus parvus, Island Dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus sputator and a slippery back Mabouya sp.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The large numbers of seabirds on the site benefit from a lack of habitation. At least two development proposals, for tourism and a coastguard station, have been proposed since the early 1990's and been rejected by the owners. Disturbance is currently low and is restricted to the west end where c16% of the Brown Boobies breed and where the Red-billed Tropicbird nests among boulders almost to sea level. The centre of the island is covered in thick, low scrub and cacti. It is not known whether the area of scrub is expanding and the only grazing pressure is from a few small herds of goats remaining from previous periods of livestock farming. The low scrub affords protection to the nests of the large population of Sooty Terns. The populations of Booby nest in a narrow band on bare cliff tops where encroachment by prickly pear cacti may limit the colony. Rats may be a problem to nesting seabirds so warrant further investigation.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dog Island. Downloaded from on 24/01/2021.