More than 200 bird species frequent Martinique, some of which are endemic to the island or the Lesser Antilles. Here are some of the emblematic specimens that can be seen…
The emblematic birds of the world
This is probably Martinique’s best-known bird! In fact, there are 4 species.
The Blue-headed hummingbird(Cyanophaia bicolor), endemic to Martinique and Dominica, is the rarest. It can be found at the summit of Mount Pelée.
The Colibri fal vert(Eulampis holosericeus) with its golden-green plumage is more common. It can be found in dry areas at low and medium altitudes and in flower gardens around houses.
The Colibri madère (Eulampis jugularis) or Colibri fal rouge – for the color of its throat – is the one most easily seen in Martinique. It frequents gardens and comes to drink from the small troughs of sweet water installed for it.
Finally the smallest of all, the Crested Hummingbird or Colibri foufou (Orthorhyncus cristatus), whose vonvon can be heard when it flies, also frequents the gardens and verandas of almost all the island’s natural environments. Only the male has an erectile hoopoe.
All these hummingbirds are the only birds in the world able to fly backwards!
The Yellow warbler
Locally known as “Didine “, it is quite easily found in undergrowth and mangroves. It exists in all Caribbean countries, with variations in color. In Martinique, it has an orange head, olive-green upperparts, yellow underside and gray wings and tail.
The Yellow-bellied Sugarbird
Recognizable by its bright yellow breast and belly, it is very common in all environments on Martinique, in gardens, near houses and even in towns. It utters short, high-pitched calls.
The Oxen-guard heron
Where we live, it’s called Oxen-guard or Oxen-guard egret because it’s found near herds of oxen, sometimes even on their backs to delouse them! This all-white heron is very common in Martinique. It loves to follow farm machinery and even lawnmowers to feed on insects and worms in freshly turned soil. In the evening, it sleeps perched on mangrove trees.
The Green Heron
Here it’s called Kayali because when it takes flight it utters a shrill “kio kio” call. It’s easy to find wherever there’s water, especially in the mangroves, perched on mangrove trees. This little heron can be recognized by its rufous throat and blue-green feathers with a metallic sheen.
The Little Buzzard
Here it’s called the “Malfini” or the “Mangé poulé” because it has a reputation for attacking chicks in chicken coops. This small diurnal raptor nests in all forests at all altitudes, but it’s not uncommon to spot it on roadside electric wires.
The Great frigatebird
It’s true that this frigatebird, also called Macari, is beautiful when you see it soaring above the sea! It’s easy to recognize with its long, narrow, pointed wings, long forked tail, and long, strongly hooked beak. They can be found along coastlines, especially near fishing ports. In the open sea, a swirling group of macaris is a sign of the presence of pelagic fish (tuna, bream, marlin). Superb frigatebirds do not nest in Martinique, but congregate on the Rocher du Diamant and the Rocher de la Caravelle.
The Stilt Sandpiper
Locally named Green-footed Sandpiper for the color of its legs, it is easily found in mangroves, marshes, mudflats and shallow lagoons as it feeds on small aquatic animals. It is a migratory bird, mainly present between late July and December.
The Brown Pelican
This large bird that everyone knows had all but disappeared from the West Indies due to intensive hunting. A protected species since the 90s, it’s making a comeback on our shores, and we’re seeing more and more of it. They can be seen resting on rocks and boats, or swooping down to pick up as many fish as possible with their large beaks and expandable gular pouches. Pelicans can be found all along the Caribbean coast, especially in the north. A few groups have been spotted at Le François marina, on the Atlantic side.