By Michael Ryan

Date: July 30, 2023

A routine check of the e-bird website showed a recent posting under the St. Kitts -Nevis page This website is where most people from all over the world post their bird sightings. While it was only posted a few days ago, the sighting occurred on February 5, 2023, in Nevis.

Michael Reid who entered the information, wrote that it was “A very cloudy, fairly dark and extremely windy day. The bird was hovering into the wind. I thought it might have been a red-tailed hawk until I saw the rather poor snap I had taken. It hovered for a couple of minutes then was blown inland and I lost sight of it. I had to increase the brightness of the image to show the red neck and base of bill and the underwing markings.”

Turkey Vulture. Photo by Michael Reid — Macaulay Library.

A review of relevant bird field guides proved it was a Turkey Vulture, the first sighting for the Federation! A Turkey Vulture is a large raptor with a bare red head. The underside of the wings are two-toned, with the wings being lighter on the entire trailing edge of the wing. It soars with the wings in a slight V-shape when viewed from the front or back. It glides slowly when riding on the thermals.

Some of the Turkey Vultures from Canada migrate to South America in the fall, and return in the spring, although some are known to start the return journey as early as February. They usually migrate over land through Central America, so spotting one so far east over Nevis is indeed rare!

This sighting in Nevis is the only record of a Turkey Vulture being spotted anywhere between Puerto Rico in the North and Trinidad and Tobago in the South!

This is the first new bird sighting in St. Kitts-Nevis for 2023!