St Lucia has well-established itself as a destination for sun and sea, but the verdant, geographically intriguing island offers so much more to the visitor. St Lucia is part of the Windward Island grouping in the Caribbean Sea which forms part of the archipelago linking North and South America. As such, it is uniquely placed in the migratory route of many birds and is home to at least five endemic species, several subspecies and many Caribbean endemics. Its relatively small size and easy navigability make the island an ideal bird watching destination.
The town of Soufriere, an historical town nestled at the base of quickly rising slopes into the rain-forested interior of the island, has long boasted a dynamic and varied bird life. Relatively undeveloped and naturally protected, Soufriere and its environs are home to a number of fascinating bird species. It is also the easiest access route to the forested interior where many of the endemic species can be found. The St Lucian rainforests undisturbed, fertile landscape supports a diverse tropical plant life, and as a result has become something of a bird sanctuary.
Three species of hummingbird found on the island, including the Purple Throated Carib, a dark bird with a brilliant, iridescent purple throat, the curved beaked Green Throated Carib and the tiny but distinctive Antillian Crested Hummingbird make this part of the island their home, though increasingly, with the end of commercially crop dusting, more and more of the species are being seen in the lower lying areas of the island. The remarkable endemic Amazona Versicolor, a parrot species unique to the island nation also makes its home in the rain forest; it favours the Gwi gwi berry, fruit of a prickly palm that is in abundance on this part of the island. Famously elusive, the Amazona Versicolor, or Jacquot as it is locally known, is an endemic brightly plumaged parrot that is also the islands national bird. Jacquot is more often heard than sighted, its call is unique, but has been known to reward those who are patient.
The St Lucia Oriole, another endemic, is a particularly exciting sighting. It bears distinctive orange-yellow markings on its underside and wings which stand out against its predominantly black plumage. The ubiquitous Lesser Antillean Bullfinch is no stranger to even the most casual bird watcher. The male is black with a bright red throat, the female is dun coloured. They are often found in pairs and quite likely to approach you on your veranda, particularly if there is a bowl of fruit around.
Because of the abundance of fruit trees, the protective mountainous terrain and rainforest canopy, bird watching in St Lucia is both an incidental affair for the arm chair birder, as well as a rewarding excursion for the dedicated enthusiast.