email a friend
printable version
Location Cayman Islands (to UK), Little Cayman
Central coordinates 80o 1.00' West  19o 41.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B4i
Area 516 ha
Altitude 0 - 14m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description The pristine wetlands of Little Cayman comprise 1,100 (40%) of the island' s area. The Crown Wetlands cover ha and occur as four types:1. On the north and south coasts, the 'mangrove' wetlands, each associated with a hypersaline lagoon, are Easterly Pond (3 ha), Rosetta Flats Pond (2 ha), Sandy Point Pond (3.5 ha), Tarpon Lake Complex (236 ha), Spot Bay Pond (5 ha), Jackson's Pond (9 ha) and Grape Tree Pond (10 ha). The fringe vegetation is of differing combinations of the four mangrove species mixed with Cordia sebestena, Thespesia populnea and Rhabdadenia biflora.2. In the south-west, Preston Bay westerly ponds (8.4 are brackish herbaceous wetlands on pavement ironshore; the vegetation is Conocarpus, Laguncularia, Acrostichum aureum and herbaceous species Sesuvium portulacastrum, Salicornia bigelovii, Ruppia maritima and Rhachiallis americana.3. An inland wetland on the eastern bluff, Charles Bight Pond (8.5 ha) with monospecific Conocarpus sp.4. A temporary freshwater wetland, Coot Pond (0.1 ha), on the south-east coast; the vegetation is Conocarpus grassland.All wetlands dry out seasonally, except Tarpon Lake.

Key Biodiversity The site has up to 135 pairs of the globally threatened West Indian Whistling-duck, which is more than 1% of the global population, with the largest sub-populations at Jackson's Pond, Grape Tree Pond and Charles Bight Pond. A total of 16 taxa breed: White-crowned Pigeon, Zenaida Dove, Yellow Warbler and biome species Greater Antillean Grackle bangsi. This race is confined to Little Cayman, having become extirpated on Cayman Brac (around 1945) in the mangrove and migrant on pond edges. There is a mixed heronry of max 250 pairs of Snowy Egrets Egretta thula and Tricoloured Herons on Jackson's Pond; Yellowcrowned Night-herons (in small colonies or singly, with the highest numbers at Tarpon Lake, Jackson's Pond and Charles Bight Pond) and Green Herons (singly) breed throughout. Max counts are 16 pairs Pied-billed Grebes, 60 pairs Least Terns, 10 pairs Willets, 16 pairs American Coots,Common Moorhens, and 250 pairs of Black-necked Stilts. A major wintering site for up to 1,500 Blue-winged Teals, 60 Northern Shovelers, 32 American Wigeons and 64 Lesser Scaups, 300 American Coots, 83 Great Blue Herons, 160 Great Egrets, 360 Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs, and 250 Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers. Purple Gallinules Porphyrio martinica, Soras and Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata occur on Coot Pond and the Preston Bay westerly ponds. Migrant raptor species include Osprey, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. Regular migrant landbirds, mainly warblers, include most commonly Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Palm Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird andNorthern Waterthrush.

Non-bird biodiversity: Endemic reptiles as KY001. Other important species are Cardisoma guanhami and Barbouria caymanensis.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea resident  2005  135 breeding pairs  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Least Tern Sternula antillarum breeding  2005  60 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala resident  2007  unknown  A1  Near Threatened 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   major
Forest Mangrove  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
urban/industrial/transport minor
tourism/recreation -

Further web sources of information 

Site profile from Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008)

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Crown Wetlands. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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