News

Barbuda’s Remarkable Birds

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - February 3, 2016

A one-of-a-kind sanctuary

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

It’s a couple of weeks after the holidays and at first sight, the mangrove appears to be festooned with scarlet Christmas tree balls. But as our boat inches closer, I realize that what I’m seeing is the red throat pouch of male frigate birds, proudly inflated to entice the females with whom they hope to mate.

Vere, a fisherman, is our guide here on Barbuda as we explore the Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Codrington Lagoon on the island’s northwest coast. As he expertly navigates the saltwater (punctuated with green islets that look like clumps of moss you’d see in a terrarium) Vere gives us the lowdown on Fregata Magnificens, the majestic birds that roost here in the only such sanctuary in the Caribbean, also one of the largest in the world.

barbuda 2

He explains how, during the August-to-February mating season, the bushes are ablaze with more than 5,000 of the birds locals call Man-o-War, their crimson throat pouches adding pops of contrast to the lush green mangroves in which they roost. While the female frigates live here year-round, the males only return at breeding time. Once they’ve mated, it’s the males who then stay with nest and protect the white-headed juveniles while the females fly off to find food.

barbuda birds 2

Vere tells us that you can’t distinguish male from female frigates until they’re about two years old, and how they can live for up to 50 years. “They can fly for a as long as a month without landing,” Vere says, explaining how they feed by swooping down into the water to snag the flying fish and jack that swim near its surface. “But it’s trouble if they fall in; their heavy wings make it hard to get back up into the air.”

They certainly don’t seem to be having any flight issues now, as they soar and dip above our heads, swooping in and out of the foliage like fighter pilots. But here on Barbuda, the wide-winged wonders are making love, not war. And I feel like the luckiest voyeur.

Popular Posts cape santa maria

From Anguilla to Aruba, the Best Caribbean Beaches to Visit This Summer

Forget the Hamptons, forget Santorini. And Florida? There’s a reason snowbirds go home in the summer. If you’re looking for a summertime beach getaway, the Caribbean is it. The water is deliciously warm, the trade winds keep you cool and […]


From Belize to Grenada, 10 Little Caribbean Beach Resorts to Visit Right Now 

karibuni

There are different resorts for different vacations, different tastes, different moods. For some, there’s something delicious about a pint-sized, tiny Caribbean resort, where the emphasis is on the intimate, the serene. Where the soundtrack isn’t a piped-in DJ set, but […]


Southwest Airlines Is Starting New Flights to Turks and Caicos, Cayman and The Bahamas 

beach at palms resort with umbrellas

Orlando has become an increasingly important source market for Caribbean travel in recent years, with carriers like Spirit and JetBlue adding new routes to the region to destinations like Cancun, Punta Cana and Puerto Rico.  Now, another carrier has is […]


Related Posts negril jamaica caribbean photo

Caribbean Photo of the Week: Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

The latest Caribbean Photo comes from Caribbean Journal reader Jennifer Vaandering, who sent in this beautiful shot of Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica. Have you taken a great photo in the Caribbean? Send it to news@caribjournal.com with CPOTW in […]


JetBlue Is Adding a New Nonstop Route From Westchester to Puerto Rico 

caribe hilton puerto rico

If you’ve been following the Caribbean lately, you know just how many new routes have been coming to Puerto Rico since the pandemic. Seemingly every week there’s a new nonstop route from somewhere in the mainland United States.  It’s a […]


Rum Journal: From Jamaica, a Legendary Brand Grows Up

man opening barrel with rum

“We have Myers’s.” If you were a rum enthusiast a few decades ago, you’d know this common refrain.  You’d walk into a decent-looking bar in the United States, scour the back shelf, ask for an aged rum, and get that […]


SUBSCRIBE!

Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.


No. Thank You