West Indies & Bermuda: Winter 2020–2021

Winter 2020–2021: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Robert L. Norton (Greater Antilles, Bahamas)

Andrew Dobson (Bermuda)

Anthony Levesque (Lesser Antilles)

Recommended citation:

Norton, R., A. Dobson, and A. Levesque. 2021. Winter 2020–2021: West Indies & Bermuda. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-apJ> North American Birds.

Bermuda stole the show, with the first record Mountain Bluebird for the West Indies and Bermuda region. Clearly weather, as function of climate change, had an impact on long-distance vagrancy and perhaps short-distance dispersals as is the case with the Bahamas. Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Grenada, and Barbados all provided major surprises. A widespread incursion of American White Pelican made it as far east as Puerto Rico and a small contingent to Antigua. Another puzzling year for Bicknell’s Thrush at Puerto Rico, where researchers are finding small groups of this threatened species well east of its preeminent winter stronghold at Hispaniola. Is this a phenomenon of knowledgeable observers, a shift in the species winter range, both, or something else? At least Bicknell’s Thrush can be expected to enjoy two wintering areas in the West Indies.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface): Peter Adhemar, Gloria Archilla, B Bliss, Nilsa Bosque-Perez, Stephen Brauning, Malo Braquier, Richard Brewer Ken Burton Renee Carlton, Maikel Cañizares Morera, Kenrith, Kate & Karim Carter, Evan Centanni, J Cestero, Quincy Clarke, Adrian Cobas, Martha Cartwright, Ashley Daniel (ADa), Peter Davey, Bridget Davis, Benny Diaz, Angel Dieppa, Luke Foster, Charmaine Francis, Jacky Froidefond, Erika Gates, Daphne Gemmill (Vieques), Eugena Granger (EGr), Percival Hanley, Ian Harrison, Erich Hetzel, Janice Hetzel, Manny Jimenes, Alvanna Johnson, Mike Karakas, Ian Kirkham, Michael Knowles, Margaret LaForge (MLa), Marilyn Laing, Celine Lesponne, Yolanda Leon, Anthony Levesque, Gabriel Lugo-Ortíz, Eddie Massiah, Miguel Mejias, Vivian F. Moultrie, Julian Moore, Hilda Morales, Alcides L. Morales Pérez, Neal Morris, Luis Munoz, Nils Navarro (Cuba), Shelagh Paton-Ash, Nancy Pascoe, Maria Milagros Paulino, Ana Pazos, Ingela Persson, Guillermo Plaza, Tami Reynolds, Emmanuel Gabriel Rivera, Pablo A. Roman, Kirk Roth, Juliann Rosado, Julio Salgado, Jordi Salguero (JSa), Jose A. Salguero (JSal), Juan Sangiovanni (JSg), María Santiago, Spencer Schubert, Joanne Smith, LeShun Smith, Alejandro Llanes Sosa, Rita Souza, Israel Gustavo Torres Guzman, Gustavo Torres, Eric Torres-Rivera, Carolyn Wardle, Paul Watson, Andrea Webb, John Webster, Tim White, Deana Williamson, Jürgen Zapp, Gisela Zelenka-Drysdale.

Waterfowl through Gallinules

A Snow Goose was at Bernard Park, Bermuda 5 Jan–26 Jan (EH). A Canada Goose was ph. 29 Dec (EG, MC) at Reef GC, Freeport, West Grand Bahama. A Tundra Swan was reported 21 Dec (HM) at Luquillo, Puerto Rico, “flying over Luquillo (East to West).” A female Garganey, the 2nd record for Guadeloupe, was at La Desirade Is., Guadeloupe 7 Jan–5 Feb (MB, AL). A Cinnamon Teal 10 Dec (PD, IK, ph.) at Otto Watler’s Lake, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman represented a first record for the Cayman Islands. Two Mottled Ducks were seen 5 Dec (MC, EG, BD, ph.) at West End, Freeport and West Grand Bahama. A Surf Scoter was at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 26 Dec–28 Feb+ (EH, JS)—the last Bermuda record was in 2007. Seven American Flamingos reported 8 Jan (GZ) continued at a small salt pond adjacent to Tortola BVI Airport Salt Pond, Beef Island, BR Virgin Islands and are likely a separated group from the larger colony at Anegada, BVI. A White-winged Dove was photographed 9 Jan (EC) at South Bimini Nature Trail, Bimini, Bahamas. A vocal Antillean Nighthawk was noted pre-dawn 19 Dec (JAS, JS) at Laguna Cartegena, West End, Lajas, Puerto Rico. A Greater Antillean Nightjar was found 19 Dec (RH) at Trou Caïman, Ouest, Haiti. A Chuck-will’s-widow was reported 10 Dec (SB) at Villas Claudia, Distrito Nacional, Santo Domingo, and another was found 3 Jan (SB) at Baitoa West, Lago Enriquillo, Independencia, Dominican Republic. Three Chuck-will’s-widow were noted 3 Dec (GP) at Pista de Avion, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. A Chuck-will’s-widow was confirmed 13 Feb (RS) at Green Castle Estate, Saint Mary, Jamaica. A Purple Gallinule was seen at Warwick Pond, Bermuda 13–15 Feb (LS).

Shorebirds through Terns

An American Avocet was at Stocks Harbour, Bermuda Dec 5–7 (AW). Two European Golden Plovers discovered in Nov were still present at Bermuda Airport to 28 Feb+ (EH). Three American Golden-Plovers were reported 31 Jan (JZ) at PN Cienaga de Zapata, Las Salinas, Matanzas, Cuba. A nice group of nine Snowy Plovers was reported 19 Dec (JSg) at Las Salinas Bani, Peravia, Dominican Republic, where a Piping Plover was also found 19 Dec (MJ) amongst mixed flock on the edge of salt pans at Monumento Natural Bahía de las Calderas (Salinas de Bani), Peravia, Dominican Republic. A Piping Plover was noted 22–24 Jan (JC, BB) at Cove Pond, Anguilla. Two Piping Plovers were regularly seen at Cooper’s Island, Bermuda 1 Dec–28 Feb+ (TW) including one flagged bird ‘AU’ which has been present each winter since 2018. Another was at Daniel’s Head Farm, Bermuda 29 Dec–13 Feb (IP). A Piping Plover was noted 19 Dec (MJ) at Monumento Natural Bahía de las Calderas (Salinas de Bani), Peravia, Dominican Republic. A Whimbrel was noted 15 Feb (ALS) at La Habana, Cuba. A Ruff was seen 25 Feb (PH) at St.Kitts & Nevis. A Ruff was present at Bermuda Airport 21 Jan–28 Feb+ (MM). A Wilson’s Phalarope was present 24–25 Jan (LM, PR, JS, ph.) at Las Salinas, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. A Parasitic Jaeger was photographed 25 Jan (AD) at Camino El Indio, Salinas, Puerto Rico. A Black-legged Kittiwake was seen off East End Dairy, Bermuda 21 Jan (PW). A Black-headed Gull was present at Albuoy’s Point, Bermuda 19 Dec–21 Feb (LF). A Black-headed Gull was seen 22 Dec (PR, ph.) at Avenida Las Nereidas, Cataño, Puerto Rico. A Herring Gull was reported 2 Dec (KB) at Monumento Natural Bahía de las Calderas, Salinas de Bani, Peravia, Dominican Republic. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen 1 Dec (MJ) at El Cedro, El Seibo, Dominican Republic. A Lesser Black-backed Gull, described as being in 3rd winter plumage, was reported 4 Jan (JSa) at La Boca, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. A Gull-billed Tern was seen 18 Dec (PD, IH) at Malportas Pond, North Side, Grand Cayman and perhaps the same bird 3 Jan (IK) at Pease Bay Pond, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman. A Black Tern was seen 13 Dec (PD) at Patrick’s Island Lake, George Town, Grand Cayman and another seen 2 Jan (IH) at Meagre Bay Pond IBA, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman. Two Common Terns were reported 17 Feb (MJ) at Saona Island, La Altagracia Province, Dominican Republic. A Common Tern was seen 22 Dec (IK) at Malportas Pond IBA, National Trust Reserve, North Side, Grand Cayman. Three Forster’s Terns were seen 16 Dec (NB-P) at Area de Joyuda, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. A Forster’s Tern was noted 2 Jan (IH) at Meagre Bay Pond IBA, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman.

Shearwaters through Caracaras

The first shearwater on annual passage past Bermuda was a Manx Shearwater photographed 11 Feb at Sally Tucker’s, off the southwest coast of Bermuda (LF). A Wood Stork seen flying from the marina to Caño Tiburones was “a large white bird with bare, black head, black feathers of the edge of the wing” 11 Feb (JS) at Reserva Natural Caño Tiburones, Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A Red-footed Booby was seen 26 Dec (NN. ph.) 12 km off the coast of Holguín, Cuba. Single Northern Gannets were seen off Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda 21 Jan (PW) and Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda 29 Jan (NM). A Double-crested Cormorant was well studied (ph.) on 31 Dec (Hector C. Cruzado) at a dilapidated pier at Isla Ratones Cay, Punta Arenas Shoreline, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. White Pelicans made an incursion into the West Indies as far south as the Lesser Antilles (see below).

Table 1. Reports of American White Pelican during winter 2020–2021 season.






Pembroke Marsh, Bermuda

20–22 Jan




Malportas Pond, North Side, Grand Cayman

1–4,15 Dec



Charca Peñón Amador, Camuy, PR

22–23 Jan



m. ob.


Charca Salobre Los Amadores, Camuy, PR

23 Jan


EGR, m. ob.


Charca Rincon Chiquito, Arecibo, PR

27 Jan




Saint Maartin, French West Indies

5–28 Feb



A Gray Heron was first seen 30 Jan (JW) remained through the season at Congo Road, St. Phillip and at ponds near Christ Church, Barbados. A Scarlet Ibis, likely from the expanding group original introduced at Necker Island reserve, was reported 27 Jan (PAR) at Reserva Natural, Caño Tiburones, Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A Glossy Ibis was present at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 17 Dec–28 Feb+ (LF). Five Roseate Spoonbills were seen 10 Dec (YL) at Humedales de Cabo Rojo, Pedernales, Dominican Republic. A Black Vulture was seen on 29 Jan (MC, EG, BD, SP-A) and 26 Feb (BD) at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama was presumed to be the same individual seen in Nov. A Swallow-tailed Kite was present 30 Dec–2 Jan (MC, BD, CF, ph.) at The Emerald GC, and 2 Jan (CF) at Pinetree Stables, Freeport, Grand Bahama. BD noted it or another 26 Feb also at West End, Grand Bahama. A Snail Kite presumed from the north-eastern coast of South America was found at Bay Street Bridgetown, St. Michael, Barbados and remained through fall and into the winter season when reported again 21–31 Dec (fide JM, QC, JW and EM). JW commented “This bird has been on the island for at least 4 months and now appears to be exploring the island as it tended to remain at a specific location on the southwest area of the island, feeding on black-backed red crabs.” A Snail Kite was seen 29 Dec (K, K & KC) at Palmiste Digg, Grenada. A Northern Harrier was seen 1 Jan (BD) at El Corozo, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Another Northern Harrier was reported 9 Jan (MP) at Arrozales Ranchito, La Vega, Dominican Republic. A Black Kite, first seen 16 Jan (CL), remained through Feb at Gran Cul-de-Sac Marin, Guadeloupe. It was also reported 17 Feb (JF) at Islet Blanc, Dortoir Oiseaux, Guadeloupe. A Short-eared Owl hunted at Bermuda Airport 17–28 Feb+ (PA). An outstanding find was a Yellow-headed Caracara 24 Feb (K, K & KC), although it or another Yellow-headed Caracara was reported the previous May 2020 at Grenada.

Parakeets through Tanagers

Two Brown-throated Parakeets 27 Dec (NP) at the Road Town Tortola ferry terminal, BVI and three seen 20 Jan (GZ) at Catherineberg Estate Ruins, Saint John, US Virgin Islands. They are now more widespread on the eastern Puerto Rico Bank. An Eastern Kingbird was found at Comunidad, Nibujón, Guantánamo, Cuba 16 Dec (MCM). A Least Flycatcher was seen 17 Dec (EC, ph.) at Lee Stocking Island IBA, Exuma and Black Point, Bahamas. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found 5 Feb (EG, ph.) at Reef GC, Freeport, Grand Bahama. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was seen at a residence in Smiths, Bermuda Dec 12 (MM). A Red-breasted Nuthatch was seen in the Botanical Gardens, Bermuda 12 Dec (EH, JH, JS). Northern Mockingbirds are very scarce in Bermuda, but there were single sightings at Clearwater 5–6 Feb (MM), St. Georges 13 Feb (EH et al.) and Tudor Hill 27 Feb (MM). A Mountain Bluebird was an extraordinary discovery on Port Royal GC, Bermuda 24–28 Feb+ (AW)—the first known record for Bermuda or the West Indies. Recent multiple observations of Bicknell’s Thrush at Puerto Rico beg the question whether their occurrence there is a recent phenomenon, or whether the species has long been a winter resident, rare or occasional, east of the mountains of Hispaniola. One Bicknell’s per season outside of Hispaniola may be rare, but multiple occurrences in the same general area could be an unexplained trend.

Table 2. Timing and location of Bicknell’s Thrush at Puerto Rico.






Bosque Estatal de Cambalache, Arecibo

26 Dec



Responds to playback

Bosque Estatal de Cambalache, Arecibo

28 Dec



Cerro Jayuya, Ponce

7 Jan




Cerro Jayuya, Ponce

8 Jan




Cerro Jayuya, Ponce

18 Jan



Cerro Punta, Highway 143, Jayuya

24 Jan



Responded to playback, heard

An American Robin was found 2 Jan (EGr, CF, ML, DW, ph.) at Rand Nature Center, Freeport, Grand Bahama. Two Cedar Waxwings were noted 3 Jan (AC) at Casa Ana Birding, Matanzas, Cuba. A male House Finch was seen again 25 Feb (AS) in La Habana, Cuba. Initially reported early in 2019, this individual was the first record in Cuba. The provenance of this species is questionable since House Finches are rather sedentary and many brightly colored migrant songbirds are trapped or imported for caged display in the Cuidad de Havana, pers. obs. (RLN). A Lapland Longspur was a good find at Bermuda Airport 16–26 Feb (PW). One Snow Bunting remained at Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda 15 Jan–22 Feb (RB). Two Grasshopper Sparrows were found 26 Dec (SS) at Piedra Blanca/Mata de Platano, La Vega, Dominican Republic. A first island record Lark Sparrow was seen 19 Jan at El Rosario, Viñales, Pinar del Río, Cuba (photos on eBird at https://ebird.org/checklist/S79719959). Amazingly, three Lincoln’s Sparrows were found 24 Jan that responded to playback, “two were observed, a third was heard” (JAS, AP) at cerro Punta, Highway 143, Jayuya, Puerto Rico. A Yellow-breasted Chat was seen at Cemetery Hill, Bermuda 28 Jan (PW). A Nashville Warbler was seen 4 Feb (MK) at Big Bird Chicken Farm, Central Abaco, Bahamas. Two Kirtland’s Warblers were seen on 22 Jan (AJ, ph.) at Blue Hole in Wemyss Bight, South Eleuthera. Bahamas. A Blackburnian Warbler was reported 25 Jan (GP) at Patillas, Puerto Rico. A Summer Tanager was at Tudor Hill, Bermuda 16 Jan–28 Feb (EH). A Summer Tanager was seen 26 Feb (EG) at Garden of the Groves, Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 9 Apr 2021.

Photos–West Indies & Bermuda: Winter 2020–2021

Click image to view fullscreen with caption.