There are 23 orders of birds in Haiti representing over 300 species, including those that occasionally visit the island and are considered vagrants. The birds of Haiti can also be classified according to the life zone where you would likely find them. The following is an introduction to the birds of Haiti by life zone.
The beautiful Hispaniolan Trogan (Priotelus rosegaster) is the national bird of Haiti. Its populations are threatened since the undisturbed forests that it prefers are disappearing in Haiti. It is found mostly in the upper elevations of the mountain ranges and always in trees and shrubs. The common name – Caleçon Rouge – refers to the red belly that resembles red shorts
Hispaniolan Trogon Audio
Farm and Urban Birds
These birds have adapted well with humans and are found where people have built their farms and urban areas. We find these birds in the courtyards, gardens, fields, public spaces, on rooftops and along roadsides. Since so much of the Haitian landscape has been modified, these birds are the most common and easily observed.
Mountains cover three quarters of the land area in Haiti, thus these birds are quite numerous. The areas where they are most likely found are in forested areas such as national parks, coffee-growing regions, fruit orchards, home gardens and patches of natural forest. Many of the species are migratory and are found in Haiti only part of the year, either as winter residents or in transit to other islands in the Caribbean.
These birds are found in and around fresh and brackish wetlands, lakes, lagoons and marshes. They are adapted to such environments with specialized feet to move in water and beaks to capture fish, crustaceans, invertebrates and mollusks as well as eating aquatic plants. The wetlands provide shelter and these birds often roost together in rookeries that are important to the health of these aquatic ecosystems.
A diversity of habitats occur where the ocean meets the land, including mangroves, beaches and rocky shorelines. The birds of these areas are uniquely adapted to the marine environment and often much larger than birds found in the interior of the island. The calls and flight patterns commonly distinguish the species.
Dry Zone Birds
These areas of Haiti occur in the lowlands that are leeward of the mountains that block the prevailing winds and rains. The birds often occur in large flocks that are nourished by the abundant reptiles, grasses and herbs that are found in the dry zones. As in other areas, these birds aid in the control of insect pests and disperse the seed of many valuable tree, shrub and herbaceous species.