ST. JOHN – Thirty-three people took part in the annual Christmas Bird Count on December 19, and while that number is down from 45 volunteers in 2020, citizen scientists have recorded 61 bird species on the island, a increase from last year’s tally of 57. species.
The birds that were hardest hit by the 2017 hurricane season – fruit and seed eaters and nectar eaters – continue to rebound.
Volunteers counted 16 West Indian crested hummingbirds this year, up from just five in 2018. Some species of doves, which struggled before hurricanes due to predation by feral cats and mongooses, appear to be continuing to struggle. Sightings of zenaida doves and common ground doves have both dropped by about half this year. Scaly-naped pigeons essentially maintained their numbers from last year.
“Right away during the count, we saw about 40 scaly-naped pigeons,” said Virgin Islands National Park ranger Laurel Brannick. “This is the first time I have seen a large herd since Irma. I’m really glad they’re back. »
However, the number of brown pelican sightings was down – just 22 were counted this year compared to 332 in 2019 – but this may be because a boat, which is believed to have been assisting with shorebird sightings, was not available for counting. This year.
The population of brown-throated parrots, also known as St. Thomas’ conures, which moved to St. Johns after the 2017 hurricanes, has maintained a stable population. Ten were counted this year.
A few rarities were recorded during the 2021 count, including two Wilson’s snipe and a goldeneye duck, which had never before been recorded at Saint John. Bananaquits, a commonly recognized species on the island, are thriving, perhaps in large part thanks to residents putting out sugar for the birds. Volunteers counted 248 bananaquits this year, up from 127 in 2018.
While some species are struggling to maintain their populations, the overall health of St. John’s birds is good, Brannick said.
“Most are on the rebound,” she said. “I was happy with the number of birds. We are going in the right direction, I think. We just don’t need storms anymore.