Below you will find 11 COMMON BIRDS that live in Sint Maarten!
Believe it or not, over 180 species have been observed here, including many birds that only visit during migration. Because of the incredible variety, it would be impossible to list EVERY single type below.
So I did my best to come up with a list of the birds that are seen the MOST. Enjoy! 🙂
Common Birds of Sint Maarten:
#1. Ruddy Turnstone
- Arenaria interpres
- Breeding males have a chestnut and black pattern on the back, similar to a calico cat.
- They have orange legs, which are brighter during the breeding season.
Ruddy Turnstones occupy different habitats each season. They nest along rocky coasts in the Arctic during the breeding season. While migrating, they visit plowed fields and shorelines of lakes. Finally, they congregate on rocky shorelines and beaches in the winter.
These beautiful shorebirds have a unique feeding style that earned them their name. They insert their bills under stones, shells, and other objects, flipping them over to find food underneath. Several Ruddy Turnstones may work together to flip a large object.
They will also probe under seaweed and other debris. Their low center of gravity and special feet with short, sharply curved toenails allow them to walk easily on wet and slippery rocks. WATCH BELOW!
#2. Green Heron
- Butorides virescens
- Small heron with a long, dagger-like bill.
- Their back is gray-green. Head and neck are chestnut-brown, except for the green-black cap on the head.
- The neck is commonly drawn into their body.
This small heron is found in Sint Maarten in any wet habitat that includes lots of vegetation, which provides places for them to stay hidden. You will most often see them foraging at dawn or dusk, as they prefer to stay out of sight during most of the day.
Green Herons are ambush predators and mainly eat fish, waiting patiently for a small one to swim by so they can snap it up with their long bill. Interestingly, these birds actually use tools to help them hunt! They will drop insects, feathers, or other items into the water, which entice small fish to come closer to investigate.
The first time I heard the “skeow” call of an alarmed Green Heron, I had no idea what I heard because it was so unique. But luckily, these sounds are easy to learn, and now I can easily identify these herons when I’m visiting most wetlands.
#3. Great Egret
- Ardea alba
- Large, white bird with long, black legs.
- S-curved neck and a dagger-like yellow bill. Look for a greenish area between their eyes and the base of the bill.
- While they fly, their neck is tucked in, and their long legs trail behind them.
Great Egrets are one of the most stunning birds in Sint Maarten.
These herons especially put on a show during breeding season when they grow long feathery plumes called aigrettes, which are held up during courtship displays.
These aigrettes are so beautiful that Great Egrets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because these feathers made such nice decorations on ladies’ hats. The National Audubon Society was formed in response to help protect these birds from being slaughtered. To this day, the Great Egret serves as the organization’s symbol.
#4. Brown Pelican
- Pelecanus occidentalis
- Brown skin on their giant throat patch.
- Dark gray bodies with a white neck and pale yellow head.
- Measures 3.5 – 5 feet in length (1 to 1.5 m) with a wingspan of 6.5 – 7.5 feet (2 to 2.3 m). The weight of adults can range from 4.4 to 11.0 lb (2 to 5 kg).
If you see a pelican in Sint Maarten while sitting on a beach, it is most likely a Brown Pelican. These large birds live strictly in saltwater habitats near the ocean’s coastline. Interestingly, they rarely venture into the open ocean, staying within 20 miles of the shore.
It’s a lot of fun watching Brown Pelicans hunting for fish! First, they fly high into the sky and then plunge aggressively headfirst into the water. These dives are meant to stun the surrounding fish, which then are scooped up with their enormous throat pouch and swallowed whole.
Check out the below video to learn more about their insane dives!
And lastly, they birds live a long time. The oldest Brown Pelican on record was 43 years of age!
#5. Brown Booby
- Sula leucogaster
- Large seabird that is dark brown with a white belly.
- Pale yellow dagger-like bill. Yellow feet.
Browny Boobys are common birds in Sint Maarten.
Look for these seabirds in coastal areas sitting on rocky areas, buoys, or channel markers. Often, they are found hanging out with other species.
Browny Boobys are probably best known for their aerial acrobatics, which involves swift maneuvers and steep dives into the water. Their long, narrow wings also make them fairly easy to identify from a distance.
Since they nest on the ground, Brown Boobys are highly susceptible to predation by introduced predators, such as cats and rodents. But if they survive these threats, they can live a LONG time, with the oldest recorded individual living to 26 years of age.
- Coereba flaveola
- Adults range from 10-13 cm (4-5 in) long.
- Most adults have dark gray upperparts, a black crown, and a yellow chest, belly, and rump.
Bananaquits have something in common with many humans I know – a sweet tooth! Also known as “sugar birds” in Sint Maarten, this species is attracted to nectar feeders and bowls of sugar. They even enter homes looking for sweet treats.
Bananaquits are small, colorful, and known for adapting easily to human habitats. They like fruit and nectar, so they spend a lot of time near humans near flower gardens or fruit trees.
This species’ reliance on humans doesn’t stop with their diet. They often build their nests on human-made objects, including lampposts and garden trellises. Look for a globe-shaped tangle of sticks and leaves between 5 and 30 feet (1.5 to 9 m) off the ground.
#7. Magnificent Frigatebird
- Fregata magnificens
- Long, narrow wings with a deeply forked tail.
- Males have a red throat patch, which is easily seen during the breeding season.
- Females have a white breast patch.
As the name implies, seeing these seabirds soaring effortlessly in the sky is quite “magnificent.” Using their forked tails to steer, they barely have to flap to stay afloat in the sky.
Due to the fact that their feathers are not waterproof like other seabirds, Magnificent Frigatebirds rarely land in the water and spend almost their entire lives flying. For food, they commonly steal fish from other birds or harass them until they regurgitate their meal, which they grab in midair! Their pirating ways have earned frigatebirds the nickname the “man-o-war bird.”
With Magnificent Frigatebirds, the “early bird” does not get the worm! Most individuals don’t take flight until later in the afternoon when thermals and winds are at their greatest. 🙂
#8. Zenaida Dove
- Zenaida aurita
- Approximately 28–30 cm (11–12 in) in length.
- While flying, look for white plumage on the inner part of the wing.
Zenaida Doves look VERY similar to Mourning Doves and inhabit the same ecological niches. The main difference is that Zenaida Doves are smaller overall, slightly darker in color, and have a shorter, more rounded tail. Look for these birds in Sint Maarten in open, coastal habitats on the ground, feeding on seeds and grains.
A Zenaida Doves mournful song also sounds similar to a Mourning Dove but is faster in pace. You can listen below!
#9. Royal Tern
- Thalasseus maximus
- Adults range from 45-50 cm (17.7-19.7 in) in length and have a 100-110 cm (39.4-43.3 in) wingspan.
- Breeding adults are gray below and white above.
- They have a black crest and a bright orange bill.
Royal Terns spend their lives in warm coastal waters. They’re frequently spotted in sheltered areas with shallow water, such as estuaries, bays, lagoons, and sandy beaches. They occasionally travel out to sea or inland, especially when feeding young, but stay within 80 km (50 mi) of the coast.
Breeding pairs of Royal Terns choose a site and build their nests together. The nests are simple scrapes in the earth. But, they have an unusual way of strengthening their nests. They defecate around the rim of the nest, and as it hardens, it reinforces the nest rim and helps keep it from flooding.
#10. Gray Kingbird
- Tyrannus dominicensis
- Grayish bird with a whitish belly.
- Dark mask on the face that goes through the eye and cheek.
- Tail typically appears notched.
These birds are a lot of fun to watch in Sint Maarten!
Gray Kingbirds are bold and expert hunters. They are known to chase dragonflies and other insects for over a hundred yards in spectacular fashion, reminiscent of a fighter pilot!
Gray Kingbirds are fairly easy to find due to their raucous and memorable voice. Listen for a rolling pitirre call anytime throughout the year.
#11. Carib Grackle
- Quiscalus lugubris
- Males are glossy black.
- Females are dark grayish-brown.
- Both sexes have yellow eyes and pointed bills.
Like other types of grackles, this species is bold and can become very tame. It’s common to see Carib Grackles near people hoping to secure leftover food, even stealing items left unattended! These birds are especially abundant in Sint Maarten in cities near the coast.
Carib Grackles are highly gregarious, and it’s rare to see just one of them. They do everything from foraging for food together to roosting at night in colonies.
Which of these birds have you seen before in Sint Maarten?
Leave a COMMENT below! 🙂