Birds Unique to the Cayman Islands

by Toni Keesee

The Cayman Islands has 17 unique bird sub-species that are endemic to the islands. Meaning these birds can only be found in the Cayman Islands and no where else in the world! While there are no endemic bird species in the Cayman Islands anymore, the islands were once home to the endemic Cayman Islands Thrush species which became extinct by the 1940’s.


Out of the 17 endemic sub-species however, thirteen live on Grand Cayman island, while four others also live on the Sister Islands. Below you’ll find the list of 17 sub-species and which island(s) they reside on in parentheses.

Endemic Sub-Species of Birds Living in the Cayman Islands

  • Caribbean Dove: collaris (Grand Cayman)
  • Cuban Parrot: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)*
  • Cuban Parrot: hesterna (Cayman Brac)
  • West Indian Woodpecker: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  • Northern Flicker: gundlachi (Grand Cayman)
  • Carribbean Elaenia: caymanensis (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  • Loggerhead Kingbird: caymanensis (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  • Red-legged Thrush: coryi (Cayman Brac)
  • Thick-billed Vireo: alleni (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  • Yucatan Vireo: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  • Bananaquit: sharpei (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  • Vitelline Warbler: vitellina (Grand Cayman)**
  • Vitelline Warbler: crawfordi (Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)**
  • Western Spindalis: salvini (Grand Cayman)
  • Cuban Bullfinch: taylori (Grand Cayman)
  • Greater Antillean Grackle: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  • Greater Antillean Grackle: bangsi (Little Cayman)
    * Commonly known as the Grand Cayman Parrot, this parrot is the official national bird of the Cayman Islands.

** The majority of the world’s population of all Vitelline Warblers live on the Cayman Islands with only a few others living on the Swan Islands off of Honduras.

In addition to these unique sub-species, there are over 200 species of birds on the Cayman Islands which has made the islands a popular destination for birding. There are several reserves that are ideal for bird watching, too. Pick out one of the spots below and take a turn at watching the wide array of birds here.

Great Spots for Watching Birds in Grand Cayman

  • Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary in Spotts Newlands area
  • Mastic Reserve
  • Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
  • Salina Reserve in the East End
  • Central Mangrove Wetland
  • Barkers National Park in West Bay
  • Meagre Bay Pond near Bodden Town
  • Colliers Bay Pond north of East End

Resources used in this blog post:

A birds-eye view of bird watching, Compass Cayman Article
Cayman Islands, Fatbirder Webpage
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Cayman Islands, Page 272
Animal Sanctuaries, DOE Webpage
National Trust Website