By most measures, Haiti is in dire ecological straits. As the poorest country in the world it is perhaps unsurprising that only 1% of its natural forest cover remains. Birding is generally focussed on the Macaya Biosphere Reserve, which supports Haiti's largest remnant of intact forest. Its diverse forested habitats range from wet limestone forest at lower elevations to a complex mosaic of pine and cloud forest at upper elevations. The reserve is rugged and remote, features that have so far proved its saving grace. Avian specialities include breeding Black-capped Petrels and many of Haiti's rare montane forest endemics: including White-winged Warbler, Western Chat-tanager, Gray-crowned Palm Warbler and Hispaniolan Crossbill. Over-wintering migrants include such site faithful species as Bicknell's Thrush and Swainson's Warbler. Haiti's conservation track record is anything but strong. International action is desperately needed if the situation for migrant and resident birds alike is to improve.
Text adapted from Chris Rimmer's article in Winging It July/August 2007
Swainson's Warbler © Sam Woods