Below you will find 13 COMMON BIRDS that live in the Bahamas!
Believe it or not, over 330 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! 🙂
13 Common Birds of the Bahamas:
#1. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
- Nyctanassa violacea
- Gray body and yellow legs. Large red eyes.
- Black face with white cheeks and a thick black bill.
- As the name suggests, a yellowish-white crown with long white plumes.
These birds look for areas in the Bahamas with shallow water to live in, such as wooded swamps, marshes, mangroves, and other coastal areas. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons can be found near both fresh and saltwater, and crustaceans (crabs and crayfish) make up most of their diet.
They are comfortable living near humans and will even nest in wooded neighborhoods or rooftops. Also, they are usually easy to see because Yellow-crowned Night-Herons eat and hunt at any time of day.
Upon being disturbed, you will hear a harsh “quawk,” which will probably be repeated a few times. Listen below:
#2. 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!
#3. 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 the Bahamas 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.
#4. Laughing Gull
- Leucophaeus atricilla
- Adults range from 39-46 cm (15.3-18.1 in) in length and have a 92-120 cm (36.2-47.2 in) wingspan.
- Adults are medium gray above and white below with reddish-black legs.
- Summer adults have a crisp black hood, white arcs around the eyes, and reddish bills, and in winter, the hood becomes a blurry gray mask on a white head.
Laughing Gulls are typically spotted in the Bahamas in coastal areas like beaches, salt marshes, and mangroves.
Like many other gulls, Laughing Gulls are adept at foraging while walking, wading, swimming, or flying. Their food sources include crustaceans, insects, squid, human refuse, berries, fish, earthworms, snails, and the eggs of horseshoe crabs.
These gulls steal food from Brown Pelicans by landing on their heads and taking fish from their bill pouch. I’m sure the Brown Pelicans aren’t laughing when that happens!
#5. Northern Mockingbird
- Mimus polyglottos
- Medium-sized grey songbird with a LONG, slender tail.
- Distinctive white wing patches that are visible when in flight.
These birds are hard to miss in the Bahamas!
First, Northern Mockingbirds LOVE to sing, and they almost never stop. Sometimes they will even sing through the entire night. If this happens to you, it’s advised to keep your windows closed if you want to get any sleep. 🙂
In addition, Northern Mockingbirds have bold personalities. For example, they commonly harass other birds by flying slowly around them and then approaching with their wings up, showing off their white wing patches.
#6. Common Ground Dove
- Columbina passerina
- These doves are small, being only slightly larger than a sparrow!
- They have a plain grey-brown back. The underparts have a pinkish tint to them.
- Small heads with a scaled pattern on their breast and neck. Dark spots on the wings.
Common Ground Doves are typically easy to find in the Bahamas. Look for them feeding on the ground beneath bird feeders, cleaning up the grains and other seeds that fall from above.
These doves primarily nest on the ground! Simple nests are built lined with a few types of grass, weeds, and other plant matter. Being on the ground, they can make an easy meal for many predators. Their primary defense is to blend into their surroundings and thick vegetation.
Common Ground Doves are relatively vocal. They can be heard at all times of the day and at any time of the year. Listen for a repeated, soft, high-pitched coo with a rising inflection.
#7. American Kestrel
- Falco sparverius
The American Kestrel is the smallest bird of prey in the Bahamas.
But don’t let the tiny stature fool you because this raptor is an accomplished hunter. One of their favorite strategies to catch prey is to hover in the breeze from a relatively low height, looking for insects, invertebrates, small rodents, and birds.
Their diverse diet is one reason they can occupy ecological niches from central Alaska down to the southernmost tip of South America. But life can be tough when you’re the smallest falcon since they are sometimes eaten as prey by larger raptors and big snakes!
#8. 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 the Bahamas.
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 the Bahamas, 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.
#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 the Bahamas!
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. Eurasian Collared-Dove
- A mostly sandy brown bird with a long, square-tipped tail.
- As the name suggests, look for a black collar on the back of the neck.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are invasive to the Bahamas.
Somebody introduced them to the Bahamas in the 1970s, and since then, they have rapidly spread. In fact, their population is still spreading!
One of the reasons that these doves colonized here so quickly is due to their comfort level with humans. They have thrived being around bird feeders and in urban and suburban areas. It’s common to see them on the ground or platform feeders eating grains and seeds.
Listen for a “koo-KOO-kook” song, which is given by both sexes. The middle syllable is longer than the first and last one. Males sing louder when defending their territory or searching for a mate.
#12. Palm Warbler
- Setophaga palmarum
- Adults are 4.7 to 5.5 inches long and weigh 12 to 15 grams.
- The coloring is generally a mix of olive, yellow, and white, but is varied between the eastern and western subspecies.
Look for Palm Warblers in the Bahamas in open, weedy fields with scattered trees and bushes.
Despite their varied appearance, Palm Warblers’ songs are similar across the continent: a loud, buzzy trilling noise.
#13. Rock Pigeon
- A plump bird with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill.
- The typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars. But their plumage is highly variable, and it’s common to see varieties ranging from all-white to rusty-brown.
Rock Pigeons are extremely common birds in the Bahamas, but they are almost exclusively found in urban areas. These birds are what everyone refers to as a “pigeon.” You have probably seen them gathering in huge flocks in city parks, hoping to get tossed some birdseed or leftover food.
Love them or hate them, Rock Pigeons have been associated with humans for a long time! Some Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago. And because of these facts, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range was.
These birds are easy to identify by sound. My guess is that you will already recognize their soft, throaty coos. (Press PLAY below)
Which of these birds have you seen before in the Bahamas?
Leave a COMMENT below! 🙂
Learn more about other creatures in the Bahamas: