Tag Archives: St. Kitts

Pyrrhulagra grandis (Lawrence)

St. Kitts Bullfinch (Pyrrhulagra grandis)

The St. Kitts Bullfinch was described in 1882, originally as a subspecies of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Pyrrhulagra portoricensis (Daudin)) (see photo).

… a short description: 

Similar to P. portoricensis but much larger and with the rufous markings darker (intermediate between ferruginous and vinaceous-rufous); that of the throat more restricted, scarcely extending to the chest, and that of the under tail-coverts mixed with black.” [1]

The species was endemic to the island of St. Kitts, where it was restricted to the higher slopes of Mt. Misery, the highest part of the island, it may very likely once have been found all over the island and very likely also on the neighboring islands of Nevis and St. Eustatius, which were connected with St. Kitts during the last glacial period. 

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The St. Kitts Bullfinch was originally known from nine specimens all of which had been collected in 1880 by Frederick A. Ober, an American naturalist, and the species was considered extinct since that date, however, a specimen that previously had been overlooked, was found in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., USA; this specimen was collected in 1929 or 1937. [2][3]

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References:

[1] Robert Ridgeway: The birds of North and Middle America: A descriptive catalogue of the higher groups, genera, species, and subspecies of birds known to occur in North America, from the arctic lands to the isthmus of Panama, the West Indies and other islands of the Caribbean sea, and the Galapagos Archipelago: Part I. family Fringillidae – the finches. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 1901
[2] Storrs L. Olson: The last St. Kitts Bullfinch Loxigilla portoricensis grandis (Emberizinae) and the extinction of its race. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 104(4): 121-123. 1984
[3] Orlando H. Garrido; James W. Wiley: The taxonomic status of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis) (Emberizidae) in Puerto Rico and St. Kitts. Ornithologia Neotropical 14: 91-98. 2003

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Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis)
Photo: Carlos Davi Hernández

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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edited: 10.11.2020

Pennatomys nivalis Turvey, Weksler, Morris & Nokkert

Nevis Rice Rat (Pennatomys nivalis)  

The Nevis Rice Rat was described in 2010 based on subfossil remains found in Amerindian archaeological sites that date from about 790 B.C. to 1200 A.D..  

The rat inhabited the islands of Nevis and St. Kitts, Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as the nearby Sint Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands, which together formed a single larger island during Quaternary low sea-level stands. [2]  

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The Nevis Rat may in fact have survived until the 20th century because there are several reports from the early 18th up to the early 20th century of rats being eaten on Nevis and St. Kitts, some of the rats recorded as unusual-looking, so that they may well represent this species, yet this can possibly never be proved.  

In a report by Reverend William Smith from 1720 it can be read.:  

… others will wrap up Cane Rats, in Banano-Leaves, and roast them in Wood Embers.” [1]  

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Nevis Island is now overrun by introduced predatory mongooses and rats. [2]  

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References:  

[1] William Smith, Revd. Mr.: A natural history of Nevis and the rest of the English Leeward Charibee Islands in America: with many other observations on nature and art, particularly an introduction to the art of decyphering. Cambridge: printed by J. Bentham 1745 
[2] S. T. Turvey; M. Weksler; E. L. Morris; M. Nokkert: Taxonomy, phylogeny and diversity of the extinct Lesser Antillean rice rats (Sigmodontinae: Oryzomyini), with description of a new genus and species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 160(4): 784-772. 2010

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edited: 17.02.2020