Barbados is 13° North of the equator and 59° West. It is part of the Lesser Antilles island chain in the Caribbean. It's closest island neighbours are Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia to the west. Barbados's total land area is about 430 square kilometres (166 square miles), and is primarily low-lying, with some higher regions in the country's interior (up to several hundred feet elevation). Undeveloped areas of the country contain tropical woodland and scrubland. It is the only island in the Lesser Antilles without a volcanic past, the island originated as elevated sea bed.
The only endemic species is Barbados Bullfinch which in the past was considered a local subspecies of Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. Other notable species are a distinctive subspecies of Yellow Warbler which is found around Graeme Hall Swamp. The largest breeding colony of Little Egret in the western hemisphere is found here. A relatively large number of European species have been seen here, such as vagrant Grey Heron or different ducks. Southern Lapwing is a species which recently was breeding in Barbados after arriving as a vagrant species, but the remaining two birds (2013) seem to be females while the male was shot a couple of years earlier.
Greater Shearwater, Black-capped Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel, European Storm Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, Red-footed Booby, Greater Scaup, Common Pochard, White-winged Tern, Arctic Tern, Spotted Redshank, Black Kite, Grey Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Pacific Golden Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Garganey, Brown Pelican, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Short-eared Owl, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Northern Pintail, Yellow-legged Gull, Anhinga, Franklin's Gull, Wilson's Phalarope, Killdeer, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, American Oystercatcher, Red Knot, Common Greenshank, Ruff, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Sooty Tern, Caspian Tern, Least Bittern, Black Tern, American Coot, Whiskered Tern, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Western Reef Heron, Caribbean Flamingo, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Summer Tanager, White-collared Swift, Alpine Swift, Chimney Swift, Dickcissel.
Birds you can see here include:
Pied-billed Grebe, Audubon's Shearwater, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Leach's Storm Petrel, Brown Booby, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-cheeked Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Masked Duck, Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sora, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Wilson's Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Pomarine Jaeger, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Roseate Tern, Common Tern, Least Tern, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Rock Pigeon (feral type), Scaly-naped Pigeon, Common Ground Dove, Eared Dove, Zenaida Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black Swift, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Green-throated Carib, Orange-winged Parrot, Caribbean Elaenia, Gray Kingbird, Black-whiskered Vireo, Caribbean Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Bananaquit, Black-faced Grassquit, Barbados Bullfinch, Shiny Cowbird, Carib Grackle. This list exclude vagrants and recently rare species. Red-tailed Hawk has been extirpated from Barbados.
African Green Monkey and Mongoose are naturalized on the island.
History and Use
Wikipedia says that the island was inhabited by Kalinago indians when the British settled here in 1627. There are still plenty of buildings that show the British ancestry, especially churches. The island was initially settled by plantation managers and an African-Caribbean slave population, until slavery was banned in 1834. The island achieved independence in 1966. It is currently the country with the highest population density in the world, with a continuing influx of especially well off immigrants.
Areas of Interest
NB: The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary closed permanently on Dec. 15th, 2008. See their website for more details. At the beginning of 2011, the Sanctuary Cafe and Lakeside Lawn were opened to the public on a limited basis, but there are no tours of the rest of the facility, and all walkways, aviaries and exhibits remain closed to the public. Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30am - 5:00pm; Sat: 8:00am - 4:30pm; Sun: 9:00am - 4:30pm.
Several shooting swamps exist in Barbados. These are man-made wetlands optimized for shorebird and duck habitat. As the name says, these have been made for hunting, and current local laws allow them to be used for that purpose three months of the year (the fall migration). They are included here because several of them are used for birdwatching at other times of the year. Unfortunately, several of them have a cage with living shorebirds to attract wild birds to the area. Shooting swamps currently (2013) in use include swamps at Congo Rd, Golden Grove, and Alaska (and possibly others).
The Woodbourne Shorebird Reserve (Refuge) mentioned above is a former shooting swamp that is now maintained as a bird sanctuary.
Click on image to see larger version
Photo by HelenB
An animal enclosure at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Photo by HelenB
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve has plenty of wild birds to see around the enclosures
Access and Facilities
Baslen House, Kingston Terrace
St Michael, Barbados, BB11090
- Raffaele et al. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0713649054
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Barbados. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 21 September 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Barbados