email a friend
printable version
029
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Country/Territory Puerto Rico (to USA),Virgin Islands (to UK),Virgin Islands (to USA)
Area 9,400 
Altitude 0 - 1,200m  
Priority critical 
Habitat loss major 
Knowledge good 


General characteristics 

The main part of this EBA is formed by Puerto Rico and its offshore islands (e.g. Mona, Vieques, Culebra) which are a self-governing commonwealth in association with the USA. The land is mountainous and was originally almost completely forested. Because of variations in climate, topography and soils, the forests are diverse and include mangroves, wet and dry coastal forest, wet and dry limestone forest in the west, rain forest in the Cordillera Central and Sierra de Luquillo, and elfin forest on a few summits.

The Virgin Islands comprise two dependent territories, of the UK (main islands Anegada, Tortola and Virgin Gorda) and USA (St Thomas, St John and St Croix), and consists of c.100 small islands and cays with dry scrub forest, mostly heavily modified by man.

Restricted-range species 

Nearly all the restricted-range species are forest birds, present in a variety of forest types and man-modified habitats, with the exception of Amazona vittata (now confined to rain forest), Caprimulgus noctitherus (dry limestone forest) and Dendroica angelae (upper montane and elfin forest). All species occur on Puerto Rico apart from Loxigilla noctis, which, in this EBA, is only found on St John in the US Virgin Islands. Three species are confined to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Otus nudipes, Melanerpes portoricensis (now extinct on St Thomas) and Myiarchus antillarum. Five further species occur on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and elsewhere: Geotrygon mystacea, Anthracothorax dominicus, Eulampis holosericeus, Orthorhyncus cristatus and Margarops fuscatus. Many restricted-range species are shared with Hispaniola (EBA 028) to the west and the Lesser Antilles (EBA 030) to the east.

Hispaniolan Parrot Amazona ventralis, a restricted-range species from Hispaniola (EBA 028), and Green-checked Amazon A. viridigenalis, a restricted-range species from Mexico (EBA 011), have been introduced to Puerto Rico, but this is outside their natural historical range so they have not been included as restricted-range species of this EBA.

Species IUCN Category
Bridled Quail-dove (Geotrygon mystacea)  LC 
Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata)  CR 
Hispaniolan Parakeet (Psittacara chloropterus)  VU 
Puerto Rican Lizard-cuckoo (Coccyzus vieilloti)  LC 
Puerto Rican Screech-owl (Megascops nudipes)  LC 
Puerto Rican Nightjar (Antrostomus noctitherus)  EN 
 (Anthracothorax dominicus)  NR 
Green Mango (Anthracothorax viridis)  LC 
Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus)  LC 
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)  LC 
Puerto Rican Emerald (Chlorostilbon maugaeus)  LC 
Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus)  LC 
Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis)  LC 
Lesser Antillean Pewee (Contopus latirostris)  LC 
Puerto Rican Flycatcher (Myiarchus antillarum)  LC 
Puerto Rican Vireo (Vireo latimeri)  LC 
White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus)  VU 
Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus)  LC 
Adelaide's Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae)  LC 
Elfin-woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae)  VU 
Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus)  EN 
Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis)  LC 
 (Loxigilla noctis)  NR 
Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus)  LC 
Antillean Euphonia (Euphonia musica)  LC 

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

IBA Code Site Name Country
  Bosque Estatal de Guajataca  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Bosque Estatal de Rio Abajo  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Bosque Estatal de Susúa  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Cerro Planadas  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Guilarte State Forest  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Punta Ventana, Cerro Toro, Punta Verraco and dry limestne hills  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
  Reserva Natural De La Parguera  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR001  Mona and Monito  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR002  Acantilados del Noroeste  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR003  Karso del Norte  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR004  Caño Tiburones  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR005  Maricao and Susúa  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR006  Guaniquilla and Boquerón  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR007  Sierra Bermeja and Laguna Cartagena  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR008  Suroeste  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR009  Karso del Sur  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR010  Cordillera Central  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR011  Salinas de Punta Cucharas  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR012  Cienaga Las Cucharillas  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR013  Jobos Bay  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR014  Este Central  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR015  Carite  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR016  El Yunque  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR017  Humacao  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR018  Ceiba and Naguabo  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR019  Culebra  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
PR020  Vieques  Puerto Rico (to USA) 
VG001  Great Tobago  Virgin Islands (to UK) 
VG002  Green Cay  Virgin Islands (to UK) 
VG003  Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas  Virgin Islands (to UK) 
VI001  North-west Cays  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI002  Perseverance Bay Lagoons  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI003  John Brewer's Bay  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI004  Saba Island and Cays  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI005  Magens Bay  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI006  Mangrove Lagoon  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI007  St John  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI008  Southgate and Green Cay  Virgin Islands (to USA) 
VI009  Great Pond  Virgin Islands (to USA) 

Threats and conservation 

Natural succession has been slowly reforesting Puerto Rico since industry replaced agriculture as the economic base in the late 1940s (Wadsworth 1950, Birdsey and Weaver 1982). Data from 1978 indicated 37% of the island to be covered in woody vegetation, but this comprised 32% secondary growth, 5% native trees used for shade in coffee plantations and less than 1% virgin forest (Harcourt and Sayer 1996). Secondary forest is used by some restricted-range birds, and coffee plantations in the central mountains provide an important refuge for some species (Brash 1987), but hurricanes are a continual threat to small remnant populations (Wiley 1985).

Storms may, however, have positive long-term effects. Thus, because of deforestation, hunting and nest-robbing, Amazona vittata had a population of just 13 in the early 1970s, confined to the Luquillo mountains; but the mountain forests (which are older, undisturbed and not highly productive) may not be optimal habitat. Hurricane damage in 1989 reduced parrot numbers by half but may have stimulated production of buds, fruit and seeds, resulting in increased clutch sizes and numbers of nests of the survivors, as well as forcing them to disperse to the lowlands, which may have led them to discover new nesting sites (Meyers et al. 1993). These effects - along with a conservation programme, involving artificial nest-sites, control of predators and competitors, and captive breeding - probably helped the parrot's recovery to c.40 birds by 1996.

Two further restricted-range species are judged to be threatened: Caprimulgus noctitherus is at risk from loss of its specialized habitat (c.100 km2) and from introduced predators such as mongooses, rats and cats, while Agelaius xanthomus is under pressure from a range of threats, most notably brood-parasitism by Shiny Cowbirds Molothrus bonariensis, loss of mangroves and introduced predators - although the Mona Island population is reasonably healthy and not threatened by cowbirds (J. M. Wunderle in litt. 1996). A population decline has recently been noted in Vireo latimeri in Gu

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Endemic Bird Area factsheet: Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/09/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife