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  • Photograph of Great Lizard Cuckoo

    Great Lizard Cuckoo by Dubi Shapiro.

    BAHAMAS

    Best Wildlife in the Bahamas

    Mammals
    (Atlantic) Bottlenose and (Atlantic) Spotted Dolphins.

    Birds

    Endemics
    Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Swallow and Bahama Yellowthroat, and, possibly, Bahama (Brown-headed) Nuthatch (insularis), Bahama (Yellow-throated) Warbler (flavescens) and Bahama (Black-cowled) Oriole (northropi).

    Others
    Kirtland’s Warbler (mostly Sep-Apr), American Flamingo (colony on Great Inagua usually present Mar-Jul), White-tailed Tropicbird (mostly late March to July), Magnificent Frigatebird, and about 20 West Indian specialities including the near-endemic Cuban Parrot (bahamensis), Great Lizard Cuckoo, Antillean Nighthawk (mostly May-Aug), Cuban Emerald, West Indian Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Grey (mostly Apr-Oct) and Loggerhead Kingbirds, Thick-billed Vireo, Red-legged Thrush, Bahama Mockingbird, Olive-capped Warbler, Western Spindalis and Greater Antillean Bullfinch, as well as Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Willet, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, White-crowned Pigeon, Common Ground Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, Belted Kingfisher (winter), Hairy Woodpecker, Black-whiskered Vireo (mostly Apr-Aug), Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Grey Catbird (winter), Pine and Prairie Warblers, Bananaquit, Black-faced Grassquit and Red-winged Blackbird. Also a chance of Reddish Egret, Limpkin, Black-necked Stilt, Key West Quail Dove, Zenaida Dove, Mangrove Cuckoo, Yellow (Golden) Warbler and wintering/passage migrant species such as Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Cape May and Prairie Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting and Baltimore Oriole.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Great Hammerhead (South Bimini Jan-Mar), Lemon, Nurse, Reef, Tiger (Grand Bahama Sep-Mar) and Oceanic White-tip (Cat Island Mar-Jun) Sharks, and Sting Ray.

    Invertebrates
    Butterflies include Polydamas and Schaus’s Swallowtails.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Bahamas

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Bahamas

    Dolphins are usually present from mid-April to mid-November with the peak time to swim with them being May to August. It is possible to see most of the birds at this time too although the best time is arguably mid-March to early April when wintering Kirtland’s Warblers are usually still present and some passage migrants may already be moving through on their way north.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Bahamas

    Collins Field Guide: Birds of the West Indies by N Arlott. Harper Collins, 2010.

    Birds of the West Indies by H Raffaele et al. Helm, 1998.

    Field Guide to the Birds of North America edited by J Dunn and J Alderfer. NGS, 2011 (Sixth Edition).

    Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

    The North American Bird Guide by D Sibley. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. Originally published in 1936 by the Academy of Natural Sciences and reprinted many times since by several publishers including Collins and Houghton Mifflin.

    A Birder's Guide to the Bahama Islands by A W White. ABA, 1998.

    Dive Guide: The Bahamas by L Wood. New Holland Publishers, 2007 (Second Edition).

    National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes by C L Smith. Alfred A Knopf, 1997.

    Butterflies of the Caribbean and Florida by P Stiling. Macmillan Caribbean, 1999.

    Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America by J Brock and K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.


    Apps etc.


    National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America.

    The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America.

    Peterson Birds of North America.

    Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds.

    iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds.

    Trip Reports for the Bahamas

    Many trip reports, some for the Bahamas, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Bahamas. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Bahamas' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Bahamas

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in the Bahamas

    Some Organized Tours to the Bahamas

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Bahamas in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.