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Guadeloupe - BirdForum Opus

Lesser Antilles


Guadeloupe is not just "an" island, but a group of islands. An archipelago that is also an Overseas/Foreign Department of France and Overseas Region of France.

A person flying over this group, in a south to north flight path would see two larger islands, Basse-Terre, in the west, and Grande-Terre, in the east. Together they form a landmass roughly shaped like a butterfly, separated by the Salee River. Forming the rest of the group, they would see Marie-Galante in the southeast, La Desirade in the east, and the Saintes Islands of Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas in the south.

Basse-Terre, being the largest, encompasses over half the archipelago's land area and has a chain of mountains, one volcanic, Soufriere, with elevation in excess of 4,800 ft. /1,467 meters above sea level. Rains, falling on these mountains, flows down a series of rivers to the sea. The other half of "the butterfly is a low-lying area.

Guadeloupe's climate ranges across the spectrum from the lower temperatures in the higher elevations to a more tropical feel in lower areas.

The habitat here is rainforests on Basse-Terre to cactus and palms on some of the smaller islands.

All of this combines to foster a good variety of birds, sea life, and plants. A great place to explore. [4]


Notable Species

Notable is a word usually defined as something remarkable, worthy of notice, or commanding attention. It's a word with a broad definition.

This is especially true when it comes to birds in the Guadeloupe Archipelago and even more so when it comes to endemic species here. Endemic is a term that can be applied to a particular location or region. It can be a small number or higher.

However, in the case of Guadeloupe, it has been noted there is but one species, the Guadeloupe Woodpecker that is truly a strict endemic to this location. This species is found on Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre and is thought to be the only woodpecker to be found in the Lesser Antilles.

But, departing from a description meant to convey the status of a strict endemic to one location, keep in mind there are 8 species here that are endemic to the Lesser Antilles and 9 that are endemic to the Antilles. In addition to the endemics, this area has had 278 species recorded along with 80 breeding species.

Taking all this into account, the Guadeloupe Archipelago comes across as a place with a lot of potentials to offer the inquisitive birder. [5],[6]


Insufficient information to make a determination as of October 2020.


Birds you can see here include:

Western Cattle Egret, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilt, Hudsonian Godwit, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Black Swift, Sooty Tern, Laughing Gull, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Lesser Antillean Swift, Magnificent Frigatebird, Caribbean Elaenia, Spotted Sandpiper, Brown Noddy, Least Tern, Scaly-breasted Munia, Glossy Ibis, Royal Tern, Semipalmated Plover, Black-faced Grassquit, Common Ground Dove, Tropical Mockingbird, Sooty Shearwater, Carib Grackle, Pectoral Sandpiper, White-crowned Pigeon, American Golden-Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Rock Pigeon, Gray Kingbird, Black-rumped Waxbill, Great Egret

Other Wildlife

As could be expected, there is an untold variety of marine life to be encountered among this archipelago as well as that found on the land portion of the islands.

History and Use

This area has a long historical past starting when Columbus landed here in 1493. It has evolved into its present day status as an Overseas Department of France.

Areas of Interest


Basse-Terre, the name, is both the name of the island as well as the name of the capital of the island. It's a volcanic island with the Soufriere Volcano figuring prominently in the range along with 17,000 hectares/42,000 acres of tropical forest encompassing a National Park. Basse-Terre is renowned for its great natural beauty with it's variety of natural habitat.[3]

Birding is great here with this being one of the two homes for Gaudeloupe's one specific endemic species the Gaudeloupe Woodpecker. In addition to this, there are 8 eBird hotspots found here[8] along with 195 recorded species as well as 2 globally threatened species. [9]

In addition to the birding potential on the island, it is also home to the Cousteau Reserve, a protected marine reserve off the western coast of the island. There are notable beaches, coastal areas, and the archaeological remains of the island's first inhabitants. .[3]


Grande-Terre is the island that makes up the eastern portion of "the butterfly" shape associated with Guadeloupe and is the only other island in the archipelago where the endemic Guadeloupe Woodpecker is found.

Birding here, with its differing habitat, has great potential with 250 species reported as having been sighted here along with 4 globally threatened species[10] and 9 eBird hotspots[8] located on the island.

The habitat here is more of a lower, flatter elevation with a large amount of farmable land. It's on a limestone plateau with memorable beaches and beautiful waters.

Some of the significant sites include the Basilica in Pointe-a-Pitrre, Gosier Islet Underwater Trail and the Pointe-des-Chateaux with is biodiversity and archaeological significance. [3]

La Desirade

La Desirade, another of the islands in the Gaudeloupe Archipelago, lies east of "the butterfly of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. It's accessible by sea and air. It has a single road that runs the length of this 11 km/6 8/10 mile stretch of peaceful and remote island.

Habitat here includes sandy beaches and coral reefs. Along with La Desirade's other natural habitat, it has been accorded the title of a National Natural Reserve and the first to be classified as a Geological Natural Reserve.

Ecotourism is growing and they are moving toward more sustainable development with the installation of a wind farm in 1993. [3]

The birding potential. on this island is good also. They have had 185 species reported as having been spotted along with 2 globally threatened species. [11] Couple all this with an eBird hotspot[8] on the island, and you can begin to imagine what a visitor has awaiting them if they choose to come.

Petite-Terre Islands

Petite-Terre Islands are a combination of two uninhabited islands, Terre-de-Bas, & Terre-de-Haut and are located southeast of Grande-Terre. But they are incorporated for municipal purposes with Desirade. Due to their habitat and biological diversity they were made a nature reserve in 1998. [3]</sup


Marie-Galante has been described as "untouched by tourism" retaining much of its culture. Ox-drawn carts may still be seen here and cock fights and ox pulling events are still held. It has, at times, been called the Island of a Hundred Windmills. Or the "big cookie" because of it's round shape.

Sugar cane production and rum distilleries hold a significant spot in the life of Marie-Galante. [3]

Natural areas here seem to be predominately coastal and near coastal areas. Birding still has potential on this island with 123 species recorded as having been sighted along with 1 globally threatened species.[3]

Saintes Islands

The Saintes Islands are a group of 9 islands of varying sizes. Two of them, Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas are the only inhabited ones. Fort Napoleon, on the island, is a place for wonderful views and exotic gardens.

Natural areas a birder might avail themselves of, in addition to Fort Napoleon's garden, include hiking trails and nice bays and beaches. [3]

As many as 117 species of birds have been reported as being seen here along with 1 globally threatened species.[13]

Guadeloupe National Park

Created in 1989 as the first French national park in the overseas territories, the Gaudeloupe National Park is an effort to help preserve all things nature of the Antilles.

Located on Basse-Terre, it takes in approximately 22,000 hectares/54,363 acres. This area includes approximately 17,300 hectares/42,749 acres of tropical forest and 3,700 hectares/9,142 acres of humid and marine environment.

Some of the points of interest within the park include the Soufriere volcano, among the highest points in the Lesser Antilles, Carbet Falls, and the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin nature reserve.

With approximately 300 km/186 miles of trails in the park, the opportunity to get literally out in nature is significant.

As the visitor takes all this in, they have the chance to explore a variety of species of birds, wildlife, insects, and plant life.[14]

There have been 109 species reported as having been sighted here with 1 globally threatened species. [15] In addition to that, there are 2 eBird hotspots to be found along the roadway traversing the northern end of the park.[8]

Access and Facilities

Gaining access to these islands will depend largely on where you want to go. It will be best to consult a trusted travel professional for pertinent and up-to-date help and information in achieving this.


  1. Prefect of the Gaudeloupe Region – Official Site – http://www.guadeloupe.gouv.fr/
  2. Nations Online Project – Gaudeloupe - https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/guadeloupe.htm
  3. Gaudeloupe Islands Tourist Board - http://www.visitguadeloupe.co.uk/index.html
  4. Robert Cornevin, Gaudeloupe, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Published March 21, 2018, https://www.britannica.com/place/Guadeloupe, Accessed October 08, 2020
  5. Bird Forum member observations
  6. Ornithological Society of Gaudeloupe - https://www.amazona-guadeloupe.com/index-en.html
  7. Gaudeloupe National Park - http://www.guadeloupe-parcnational.fr/en
  8. eBird
  9. Lepage D. (2020) Basse-Terre Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020
  10. Lepage D. (2020) Grande-Terre Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020
  11. Lepage D. (2020) Desirade Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020
  12. Lepage D. (2020) Marie-Galante Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020
  13. Lepage D. (2020) Iles Santes Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020
  14. France Voyage – Guadeloupe National Park - https://www.france-voyage.com/tourism/guadeloupe-national-park-2356.htm
  15. Lepage D. (2020) Gaudeloupe National Park Bird Checklist - Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Retrieved 13 October 2020

Recommended Citation

External Links

  1. Guadeloupe Tourist Information


  1. Guadeloupe on Google Maps