Tag Archives: Cayman Islands

Icterus leucopteryx ssp. bairdi Cory

Grand Cayman Oriole (Icterus leucopteryx ssp. bairdi)

This bird, as its name implies, was restricted to the island of Grand Cayman while the nominate race is endemic to Jamaica.

The bird is mainly golden yellow colored with a greenish hue; its face and throat are black; the wings are largely white and black and the tail is black as well; the beak and the feet are grey.

The last birds were collected in 1911 by Wilmot W. Brown (at a time when the Governor of the island specifically forbade him to hunt any birds peculiar to the island, by the way), and the collector wrote the following statement.: 

Collection contains 17 specimens of the very rare Icteurs bairdi – the rarest bird I ever hunted!” [1]

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nominate form

Photo: Frode Jacobsen
https://www.inaturalist.org/people/frodejacobsen
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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References: 

[1] Kevin B. Clark: Wilmot W. Brown: one of the most prolific collectors of the vertebrate fauna of the New World. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 126(6): 347-378. 2020

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edited: 05.01.2024

Turdus ravidus (Cory)

Grand Cayman Thrush (Turdus ravidus)

The Grand Cayman Thrush was described in 1886; it was restricted to the island of Grand Cayman where it inhabited mangrove swamps and coral rocks covered with climbing cacti.

The species was quite large, reaching a size of up to 28 cm; it was generally uniformly ash-grey colored, except for the lower abdomen, the undertail coverts and the tips of three of the outer tail feathers which where white; the beak and the eye ring as well as the legs were bright orange red.

The birds were known to feed on the fruits of the highly toxic Manchineel Tree (Hippomane mancinella L.).

The last birds were collected in 1911 by Wilmot W. Brown (without any official permission, by the way), and their collector wrote the following statement about the species’ demise.:

“… this rare thrush which is without question on the verge of extinction due to ravages of domestic cats in a wild state that overrun the island, and to fire ants which kill the young birds in the nest ….” [1]

The last reliable record took place in 1938, when a single bird was spotted by the zoologist C. Bernard Lewis.

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syn. Mimocichla ravida Cory

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References: 

[1] Kevin B. Clark: Wilmot W. Brown: one of the most prolific collectors of the vertebrate fauna of the New World. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 126(6): 347-378. 2020

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edited: 29.12.2023

Gallinago kakuki Steadman & Takano

West Indian Snipe (Gallinago kakuki)

The West Indian Snipe was described in 2016, its fossil or subfossil remains were recovered from late Quaternary depostits on several islands including the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The West Indian Snipe was a volant species, but probably had quite short wings, this can be assumed from the shape of its wingbones. [1]

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The species probably died out for more or less natural reasons, following changing environmental conditions due to changes in the height of the sea level after the beginning of the Holocene. The last remaining populations were then probably extirpated by the first Amerindian settlers.
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References:

[1] David W. Steadman; Oona M. Takano: A new extinct species of Snipe (Aves: Scolopacidae: Gallinago) from the West Indies. Zootaxa 4109(3): 345-358. 2016

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edited: 26.01.2019