Saba Island and Cays

Country/territory: Virgin Islands (to USA)

IBA Criteria met: A4i, B4i (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 503 ha

Site description
The site is located just off the south central coast of St. Thomas and includes Saba Island plus the smaller Turtledove Cay and Flat Cays, a total area of approximately 14 hectares. The islands are about 2 km S-SW of the western end of the Cyril King airport runway extension. Saba has 2 salt ponds (east and west) with coral rubble shoreline on the northern side and rocky cliffs on the seaward south. The Saba terrain rises to about 80 m while the other cays have very low and flat terrain. A shallow sandbar reaches north to Turtledove Cay. There is a protected cove on the northwestern side of Saba with a small sandy beach. Behind the beach is a relative open, flat area adjacent to the west pond. A nature trail was developed some years ago but has mostly grown over. A bird observation blind is located near the east pond shore and overlooks the pond and vicinity. Offshore of both Saba and Flat Cay are modest sized coral reefs.

Key biodiversity
Islands & surrounding waters Audubon’s Shearwater, Red-billed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Pelican, Brown Booby, Magnificent Frigatebird, White-cheeked Pintail, Lesser Yellowlegs, Laughing Gull, Sandwich Tern, Royal Tern, Roseate Tern, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Zenaida Dove, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Smooth-billed Ani, Yellow Warbler.

Non-bird biodiversity: The crested anole, Puerto Rican Racer snake, Slipperyback skink, dwarf gecko, and house mouse are also present. Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles are common in the surrounding waters. There are small coral reef areas in adjacent waters that warrant protection from boat anchoring and terrestrial runoff. Seagrass beds provide habitat for fish, vital for the seabirds.

Jim Corven and Judy Pierce

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Saba Island and Cays. Downloaded from on 04/10/2022.