San Salvador

San Salvador is not connected to any of the other islands by the Great Bahama Bank and, like several islands in this area, is surrounded by deep water. For this reason, some migrant and resident birds do not occur here. However, it is an island where the Yellow Warbler is very common but the summer resident Black-whiskered Vireo has never been reported on this island. The Gray Kingbird is the only breeding flycatcher here. The West Indian Woodpecker of the endemic race is rare and very hard to find.

Gray Kingbird

Gray Kingbird (Photo by Tony Hepburn)

Endemics: Bahama Woodstar

Bahamian specialties: White-cheeked Pintail, Bahama Mockingbird, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Thick-billed Vireo, Bananaquit, West Indian Woodpecker, and Black-faced Grassquit

White-cheeked Pintail

White-cheeked Pintail (Photo by Tony Hepburn)

Breeding Seabirds, however, are a big draw to this island in the nesting season. In spring and summer, seabirds are nesting on the cays surrounding Graham’s Harbour. Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Boobies and occasionally Red-footed Boobies nest on White Cay. Sooty Terns, Bridled Terns and Brown Noddies nest on Gaulin and Cato Cays. White-tailed Tropicbirds and Audubon’s Shearwaters nest in suitable rock crevices, particularly on the northwest side of San Salvador.

Nesting Frigatebirds on San Salvador

Frigatebirds Nesting in Graham’s Harbour (Photo by Carolyn Wardle)

The Gerace Field Station at the north end of the island can provide a boat out to the off-lying islands surrounding Graham’s Harbour. The field station is also the best place to obtain information about trails in that area and generally about the island. Ask permission to bird around the property and along the trails nearby. The large water catchment basin on the property offers good birding in the rainy season. Look for Yellow Warblers and Pearly-eyed Thrashers as well as the local birds and migrants. Be careful, there is Manchioneel along the trails, as well as Poisonwood, so try to avoid contact with the vegetation if you don’t recognize these plants.

San Salvador

Off-lying cays in Graham’s Harbour with Nesting Seabirds (Photo by Carolyn Wardle)

Jake Jones Road at the northwest point of the island is worth a visit where you can look for the West Indian Woodpecker. Park on the main road and walk in. Being more circular than many of the Bahamian islands, a road runs around the perimeter of this island. Stop and bird as you go, but be careful when venturing far off the main highway. Several ponds and Salinas on the east side of the island can offer good birding. The southern end of the island is flat and low-lying. In summer, Roseate and Least Terns nest in areas above high water mark.

Birds of the Bahamas


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