ST. KITTS BULLFINCH
Formerly a sub-specie of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch, now a separate specie (Milopyrrha grandis)
The Caribbean has many endemic Birds. Research indicates that the Caribbean (excluding Trinidad & Tobago) has 770 different species, of which 148 are endemic, with 105 being single island endemic. However, St. Kitts & Nevis were not blessed with many Birds that are endemic to the islands. In fact, until recently, there were no birds that were found uniquely in St. Kitts or Nevis. However, that changed in 2021, when the AOU designated the resident Puerto Rican Bullfinch, a sub-specie resident of St. Kitts, as a separate specie, being split and now officially known as the St. Kitts Bullfinch (Milopyrrha grandis). Interestingly, while that was fantastic news, there was only one problem —- it has been considered extinct for almost 100 years, and has not been officially sighted since 1929.
But is it really extinct?
It is thought that natural disasters may likely have caused its demise. Apparently this Bird was very common in the 1890’s but around the turn of the century two major Hurricanes hit the island, and they appeared to have seriously affected their numbers. Worse was to yet come as in 1924 another large Hurricane affected the islands, and then in 1928, the Mother of all Hurricanes, one of the major Hurricanes of the 20th Century directly struck the islands. There was only one recorded sighting of the St. Kitts Bullfinch after that, in the following year, 1929.
However, in 1993, local naturalist Campbell Evelyn and his wife reported a sighting in the forest high above Stonefort Village, but regretfully they did not have a camera. It appears that this specie of Bird was holding on precariously to life, but its continued existence would have been threatened by another two massive Hurricanes named Louis and Georges, which affected the island in 1995, and 1998 respectively. Notwithstanding, in 2012 there was a very credible report from Father Sanchez that he heard the call of a Puerto Rican Bullfinch on the way hiking to the creator, (see News article). And then in 2021, a scientific research program by the Departure of the Environment recorded a bird call by Sonagram, which may well be a St. Kitts Bulfinch. The scientists are still reviewing the evidence.
If you happen to travel in any of our rainforests, particularly in the area of Mount Liamuiga, keep your eyes open for this particular specie as nothing would give us more satisfaction than if we could prove that this specie still exists, and to initiate relevant steps to preserve and protect this endemic bird.
Any sightings (or pictures!) please notify us at our contact address on the contact link on the top of this page.
For more information and pictures of the St. Kitts Bullfinch can be found on the following: