November bird watching on Curacao

November bird watching on Curaçao – always a surprise

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Wilson’s Snipe feeding in a grassy area. Photo’s by Michelle Pors-da Costa Gomez

Bird watching on Curaçao is a surprise throughout the year. The island may be small (444 square kilometers or +/- 171.4 square miles), but has many small habitats spread out from the east to the west. Even in the inner city of Unesco World Heritage Willemstad, there are many areas where a bird can hide, eat, nest or just rest. Which makes every corner of the island potentially interesting for birders.

Of course the migratory season, both during spring and autumn, are especially great as we (re)discover rare migrants, lifers, and species which are completely unexpected, every single year. But experience has taught us that even outside these migratory periods, the finds can be exceptionally interesting. Especially as we are discovering that some species tend to stick around during the winter months, in stead of flying off to South America.

Discovering birds in November

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo looking for insects in grassland.

November is more or less the end of the fall migration season, in which North American birds migrate to South America to spend the winter months. Most species have come and gone, but recent discoveries have illustrated that this doesn’t mean we should stop being alert, and ‘undress’ every bird we observe. The total opposite is the case as the recent discovery of the lifer species Blue Grosbeak illustrates very clearly. November is a good month to spot Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, but Blue Grosbeaks have never been seen on Curaçao before, only once on sister island Bonaire.
Besides this remarkable new species, observations of the Indigo bunting and Dickcissel also make sure that November is not the month to let our guards down.

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Prothonotary warbler in mangrove area.

In November it’s also a good thing to constantly check the skies for migratory birds of prey such as Peregrine falcons and Merlins (of which some stick around till the month of May). The difference of behaviour of certain breeding birds on the island are a clear indication that these magnificent birds of prey are around. Saffron finches, which during the summer months tend to sit out in grassy patches to look for seeds, are now well hidden in the vegetation and almost don’t come out to sit freely. They have learned their lesson well.

Besides Peregrines and Merlins, Ospreys are now seen everywhere along the coast and we are constantly on the lookout for other rare birds of prey such as the Swallow-tailed Kite, Aplomado falcon and Harriers.

Other migratory birds which still show themselves are Rose-breasted grosbeaks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Wilson’s Snipes, Prothonotary warblers, Blackpoll warblers and Northern watertrush. These watertrush are remarkable territorial where we find them, a know fact of these small passerines.

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Blue Grosbeak, a LIFER for the island.

Besides the migratory bird species, the native breeding birds are now also in turmoil as the few rain showers we have had, are pushing them into breeding overdrive. Brown-throated parakeets are flirting, Tropical mockingbirds and Yellow warblers are on their 2nd or 3rd brood for the year, Crested Caracara’s are mating and the invasive Shiny cowbird has actively laid its eggs in the nests of Yellow orioles. All in all, there is a lot of activity around, which makes bird watching in this month a very diverse adventure of seeing new species and observing very interesting behaviour of resident birds.

Plan your bird watching trip

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Tropical Mockingbird feeding its hungry chick.

If you are planning a trip to Curaçao and want to go birdwatching, be sure to take a look at the scheduled group bird watching cross island tours, which take place once or twice a month (Click here for up to date information), or book a private guided tour with us through this form.

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