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Location Virgin Islands (to USA), St. John
Central coordinates 64o 44.74' West  18o 19.91' North
IBA criteria A2, B4i
Area 2,978 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description St. John is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands with 28 square miles, 53% (7,000 acres) of which is the Virgin Islands National Park. Most of the landscape is second growth with relatively few introduced plant and bird species. Diverse habitats include rocky and sandy coastlines, semi-arid thorn-cactus communities, a comprehensive assortment of tropical dry forest formations from coastal hedge to shrublands and canopied upland forests, moist forests, mangrove wetlands, freshwater and saltwater ponds, small agricultural/pasture lands, and small towns. The island receives an average of 44 inches of rainfall annually, but is highly seasonal, with the heaviest precipitation occurring from August to November, augmented by a late-spring wet period. The winter-spring dry season normally lasts 3 months or more.

Key Biodiversity A total of 120 bird species have been confirmed on St. John. Key waterbird species are itemized in Table 1. Widespread terrestrial species include Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Scaly-naped Pigeon, White-crowned Pigeon, Zenaida Dove, Bridled Quail Dove, Common Ground Dove, Mangrove Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Caribbean Eleania, Gray Kingbird, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Black-whiskered Vireo, Caribbean Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black and White Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Bananaquit, Black-faced Grassquit, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. Among the wood warblers, only the Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) is a nesting resident in the Virgin Islands. The White-crowned Pigeon (Columba leucocephala), listed by Birdlife International as “near threatened” nests in coastal mangroves and forests.

Non-bird biodiversity: Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) have been seen on St. John beaches and may nest. The Virgin Islands tree boa (Epicrates monensis granti) is listed as endangered by the VI Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. A number of endangered plant species have been identified on St. John including Eugenia earhartii (Earhart's eugenia), Solanum conocarpum (Marron baccora), Agave eggersiana (Eggers' agave), Erythrina eggersii (Eggers' cockspur), Machaonia woodburyana (Woodbury's machaonia), Calyptranthes thomasiana (St. Thomas lidflower), Zanthoxylum thomasianum (St. Thomas Prickly ash).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pelecanus occidentalis resident  2006  300 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Not Recognised 
Bridled Quail-dove Geotrygon mystacea resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Green-throated Carib Eulampis holosericeus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica resident  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Puerto Rican Flycatcher Myiarchus antillarum resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Loxigilla noctis resident  2007  unknown  A2  Not Recognised 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Saint John Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary 0 protected area contained by site 0  


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

Land use

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

Protection status The Virgin Islands National Park, including nearshore coral reefs, is legally protected and managed by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has about 9 hectares in its Coral Bay Preserve and Island Resources Foundation (IRF) has the Nancy Spire Nature Preserve consisting of approximately 17 hectares. All mangroves in the U.S. Virgin Islands are legally protected.

Further web sources of information 

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

References Boulon, R.H. and D. M. Griffin (1999); McLaughlin, M.(Eds)(1976);Platenberg et al. (2005); Raffaele et al. (2003);Raffaele, H. (1989).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: St John. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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