Birding Vieques's East Side

The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is great for birdwatching. Experienced birders use online resources, such as the mobile apps Merlin and eBird, to help identify species and track their personal bird lists, and the book Birds of Vieques Island Puerto Rico by Gemmill (available for purchase at the Ticatove kiosk) provides detailed information on the habitats and historical data of bird sightings on the island. However, for the beginner birdwatcher, simply taking time to notice our co-island, avian residents is enough of an enjoyment. Below we a few share photos of birds we regularly see on the east side of Vieques Island along with observations of their sometimes comical but always captivating behavior. We invite you to take time to enjoy the birds!

Adelaide's Warbler

photo by Daphne Gemmill

This little bird has a sunny yellow belly and sings a sweet trilling song. On the wildlife refuge you may see a male drawn to car windows, polished clear coats, and side-view mirrors. No, its not admiring its lovely colors. Its actually trying to chase away what it thinks is an intruder. Once endemic only to Puerto Rico, Adelaide's Warbler have been found breeding in the Virgin Islands.

Adelaide's Warbler

Bananaquit

photo by Cliff Rader

Another commonly found bird both on the wildlife refuge and throughout the island is the Bananaquit. This little bird with a light grey throat and bright yellow belly loves to eat flower nectar and can often be found fluttering around flowering shrubs. Their population was impacted after Hurricane Maria as plants took many weeks to regrow their leaves and flowering parts.

Bananaquit

Puerto Rican Woodpecker

photo by Cliff Rader

Puerto Rican woodpeckers like to nest in wooden telephone/ electric poles. Although Vieques is switching over to concrete poles, the wildlife refuge has left the wooden poles to provide habitat for these fascinating birds. As you drive along the east refuge's main road, see if you can spot a woodpecker peeking out of its nest hole or climbing up (or hanging upside down on) the wooden poles.

Puerto Rican Woodpecker

American Oystercatcher

photo by Margaret Griffin

A large shorebird, the American Oystercatcher is unmistakable for its black and white body with highly visible red/orange beak. The peeping sound of these shy birds will let you know you've come too close, often without you realizing it. Snorkelers off la Chiva beaches captured this photo of the Oystercatchers flying by.

American Oystercatcher

Brown Pelican

photo by Susan Bromm

Primarily due to the effects of the pesticide DDT, the Brown Pelican was once listed as an endangered species, but due to conservation efforts, it has made a comeback and is now frequently seen from many of the wildlife refuge shorelines. Weighing around 8lbs, but with a 4ft wingspan, this marvel of engineering and amazing fisher dives head first to capture its lunch. Watching the pelicans dive is a favorite activity while enjoying the VNWR beaches.

Brown Pelican

Wilson's Plover

photo by Cliff Rader

These little shore birds can sometimes be found scurrying along sandy or rocky beaches of the wildlife refuge (such as this shore below the Berdiales Lighthouse) searching for food swept along with the sargassum onto the shorelines facing the ocean current.

Wilson's Plover

Birding resources

Learn more about these and other birds seen in Vieques with these books, identification cards, online data sources and apps that you can use from your phone:

​Books:

  • Birds of Vieques Island by Daphne Gemmill

  • Puerto Rico’s Birds in Photographs by Mark W. Oberle

 

Websites, Digital Files & Apps:

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