This is a categorized list of the bird species recorded in the archipelago of Puerto Rico which consists of the main island of Puerto Rico, two island municipalities off the east coast (Vieques and Culebra), three uninhabited islands off the west coast (Mona, Monito, and Desecheo) and more than 125 smaller cays and islands. The avifauna of Puerto Rico includes a total of 349 species, of which 166 (47.56%) are accidental, 42 (12.03%) are introduced by humans and 16 (4.58%) are endemic. Around 120 of these species breed in Puerto Rico while the majority of the others overwinter in the archipelago. This list does not include extinct species.
This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced, accidental and extirpated species are included in the total species counts for Puerto Rico.
The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories, but not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are common occurring, native species.
(A) Accidental A species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
(E) Endemic A species endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
(Ex) Extirpated A species that no longer occurs in the archipelago Puerto Rico although populations exist elsewhere.
(I) Introduced A species introduced to the archipelago of Puerto Rico as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions.
Pied-billed Grebe, commonly known as Zaramago in Spanish.
Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.
The Storm petrels are the smallest of seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage coloration is varied with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being quite colourful.
Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.
Cattle Egret (Garza in Spanish), a common bird in Puerto Rico's rural areas, usually found on top of cows.
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and Egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Unlike other long necked birds suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted.
The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and, rather surprisingly, given their size and weight, very capable soarers.
Flamingos (genus Phoenicopterus monotypic in family Phoenicopteridae) are gregarious wading birds, usually 3–5 feet in height, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down.
White-cheeked Pintail, a species which can be found on the salt flats of Vieques.
Blue-winged Teal, this non-breeding species may be found in both the north and south regions of the main island.
Ruddy Duck, this breeding species is typically found in Puerto Rico's northern coastal areas.
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils.
The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they located carcasses.
Red-tailed Hawk, commonly known as Guaraguao in Puerto Rico.
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight.
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers.
The Jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.
The oystercatchers are large, obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Puerto Rico.
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.
Killdeer, this species breeds in the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions.
Greater Yellowlegs, a common occurrence, except in summer, at the island of Culebra.
Ruddy Turnstone, a non-breeding species commonly found near coastal waters.
Sanderling, a non-breeding species commonly found near bodies of water.
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.
Laughing Gull, the most common gull (gaviota) in the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
Sooty Tern, this species nests in the Culebra National Reserve.
Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls, kittiwakes, terns, and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally general medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects of the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25–30 years. Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.
A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, a species introduced through the pet industry.
Cockatoos share many features with true parrots (Psittacidae family) including the characteristic curved beak shape and a zygodactyl foot, with two forward toes and two backwards toes. They differ, however in a number of characteristics, including the movable headcrest, and their lack of the Dyck texture feather composition, which gives many parrots their iridescent colours. Cockatoos are also, on average, larger than the true parrots.
Puerto Rican Amazon, an endemic species and one of the 10 most endangered birds in the world.
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back.
Smooth-billed Ani, a species which can be found in urban areas.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites.
Short-eared Owl, a species found in the southwestern municipality of Cabo Rojo.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically coloured to resemble bark or leaves.
Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang.
Puerto Rican Tody, an endemic bird known as San Pedrito (Little Saint Peter).
Todies are a group of small near passerine forest species of endemic to the Caribbean. These birds have colourful plumage and resembles kingfishers, but with flattened bills with serrated edges. They eat small prey such as insects and lizards.
Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.
Gray Kingbird, known as Pitirre, an onomatopoeic name which describes the species's call.
Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous.
Barn Swallow, species from this family are known as Golondrinas in Puerto Rico.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.
Northern Mockingbird, commonly known as Ruiseñor in Puerto Rico.
The Mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance.
The Thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs.
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.
Weavers are a group of small passerine birds related to the finches. These are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills, most of which breed in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer species in tropical Asia. Weavers get their name from the large woven nests many species make. They are gregarious birds which often breed colonially.
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have a wide variation in plumage colours and pattern.
The Viduidae is a family of small passerine birds native to Africa that includes indigobirds and whydahs. All species are brood parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of estrildid finch species. Species usually have black or indigo predominating in their plumage.
Elfin-woods Warbler, an endemic warbler and the most recent New World warbler discovered.
The New World warblers are a group of small often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.
Bananaquit, commonly known as Reinita, a species found throughout the archipelago except in dry or high altitude areas.
The Bananaquit is a small passerine bird. It has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers and is the only member of the genus Coereba (Vieillot, 1809) and is normally placed within the family Coerebidae, although there is uncertainty whether that placement is correct (hence the assignment Genus: CoerebaIncertae sedis).
The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar.
Grasshopper Sparrow, a species that commonly occurs in rice fields and pastures.
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.
The Icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.
House Sparrow, a common occurring species in Puerto Rico's urban areas.
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects.
^Roselaar, C.S.; J.P. Michels. ". Systematic notes on Asian birds. 48. Nomenclatural chaos untangled, resulting in the naming of the formally undescribed Cacatua species from the Tanimbar Islands, Indonesia (Psittaciformes: Cacatuidae)". Zool. Verh. Leiden350: 183–196.