RARE BIRD SPOTTED IN NEVIS
New Record for St. Kitts & Nevis –
200th Bird Sighted!
The knowledge of our Heritage received a boost when a new & rare bird was spotted in Nevis.
On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, Professor Robert Ricklefs, Mark Ludlow, and three other ornithologists spotted an Anhinga flying over the rocks at the Car Ferry terminal in Nevis, while waiting to travel to St. Kitts to continue their scientific research on birds. This raises the number of different bird species seen and recorded in the Federation up to an impressive 200!
An Anhinga is a large bird at 34 inches, black, with a long neck, long tail, and pointed bill, with whitish patches on back and upperwing. It is usually found in shallow calm waters, and is very rarely seen anywhere in the Northern Caribbean other than Cuba.
As recently as 2004, research of just about any publication containing a list of birds for St. Kitts & Nevis only indicated around 130 birds. Something did not make sense as the islands have a variety of different ecosystems, from the dry scrub and many freshwater ponds, to the rainforests in the hills. Bird enthusiast Michael Ryan set about updating and recording the list of birds both from personal observations and research. He was significantly aided by Percival Hanley in St. Kitts, and to some extent by the late Jim Johnson of Nevis and more recently, P.H.D. candidate Mark Ludlow, and as a result the number of new sightings steadily increased. In February 2010, bird number 197 was spotted by the sighting of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Nevis by Ludlow, followed in January, 2011 by a Wood Duck sighting in the Golf Course pond at Frigate Bay, by Hanley & his birding group. Later that year in October 2011, a Cinnamon Teal and was observed on the South East Peninsula jointly by Ryan and Hanley, raising the total number of unique birds recorded to 199 and the magic number of 200 was attained by the recent sighting of an Anhinga by Ricklefs, Ludlow et al.
It is believed that the actual number of different bird species that visit or live in St. Kitts & Nevis should be much higher than 200 and over time the number of confirmed sightings is expected to increase. The Caribbean (excluding Trinidad & Tobago) has over 770 species of birds, of which 148 are endemic to the region and at least 105 are found only on a single island.
Bird watching is big business in most parts of the world. In the United States alone, the sale of birdseed sold annually (1996) is in excess of US$3.0 billion dollars a year – well over 15 times the annual income of the Government of St. Kitts & Nevis! Additionally, an estimated US$830 million is spent each year on bird feeding accessories (feeders, bird houses, etc) and over US$630 on binoculars and spotting scopes alone. Interest in birds is equally high in Europe, Asia and many other parts of the world, and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate.
More information about our local bird life right here in the Federation, along with many interesting stories & pictures, can be found at the website www.birdsofstkittsnevis.com