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1 - 4 October 2003

by Anthony White


Walker’s Cay is a small (100 acres) private island at the northern end of the Bahama Islands. It has a resort that is world-famous for its big game fishing and scuba diving. The TV program, “The Walker’s Cay Chronicles” is filmed there and appears regularly on outdoors channels. Walker’s Cay Resort and Marina (1-800-925-5377) covers the entire island; it has 68 rooms, a fine dining room, a large marina, and a 2,500 foot airstrip. The rooms are air-conditioned but do not have a TV or telephone; the food is very good. The cay can be reached from Fort Lauderdale or Freeport by regular flights on Chalk’s Ocean Air and Flamingo Air respectively. Walker’s Cay is a comfortable, fairly expensive resort that is full during its high season from February to August but in the fall it is nearly empty.

Birding potential:

Given its location as the northernmost Bahama Island, Walker’s Cay has the potential to be migrant trap, especially in the fall when it would be the first land that birds sighted after a long southbound overwater flight. However, to my knowledge no birder had previously visited Walker’s Cay during fall migration. I went there in early October to see if Walker’s Cay was, in fact, a good place to observe southbound migrants. I was also interested in learning if any “Bahama specialties” could be seen there.

My visit:

I flew to Walker’s Cay from Ft. Lauderdale on October 1, arriving about 1:00 PM. The flight was short and pleasant. We cleared customs and immigration at the Walker’s Cay airstrip, and I was given a quick golf-cart ride to the hotel. It was already apparent that my visit would be successful for there were small birds everywhere and a Peregrine flew by. After checking in, I took out my binoculars and began birding the area around the hotel. American Redstarts, Ovenbirds, and Black-throated Blue Warblers were abundant, and many other species were present in twos and threes. A complete list is at the end of this report. The highlights for the next few days include frequent sightings of a Peregrine (two were present) flying past me only a foot or two off the ground chasing some poor Palm Warbler, a Gray-cheeked Thrush (my first in the Bahamas) bathing in a puddle at the edge of the swimming pool, and a mixed flock of 8 Clay-colored Sparrows and 18 Indigo Buntings feeding on the hotel lawn
A stationary front was positioned over the northern Bahamas September 28 through October 1. This front probably forced down southbound birds and kept them from continuing their migration. On October 2 and 3, the second and third days of my visit, there were strong NE winds. New birds apparently arrived each day, but there were noticeably fewer birds each day. On the fourth day, when the NE wind lessened and there was intermittent rain, there were still many migrants around.

I was also looking for species that may breed on Walker’s Cay. I found multiple individuals of the several species that breed on Abaco and Grand Bahama and therefore may breed on the cay. These species are Bahama Woodstar, Bananaquit, Gray Kingbird, Mourning Dove, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Common Ground-Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Northern Mockingbird, and House Sparrow. I also saw a single Cuban Emerald and Thick-billed Vireo. I believe more than one would have been present if they were local breeders. Curly-tailed Lizards were very common.

There were feral cats on Walker’s Cay making it unlikely that terns or other ground-nesting birds bred there. However, there are several rocks and small cays nearby that would appear to provide excellent breeding habitat for Bridled Terns in summer.


I believe that Walker’s Cay can be an exciting and rewarding place to bird in the fall. However, like all migration traps, a great deal depends on the weather. Although I am not a bird-bander, I was impressed by the patches of thick coppice with cleared edge habitat where mist nests could be placed. I think a weeklong banding expedition to Walker’s Cay in the fall would be very rewarding.

Species seen:

Here is a list of the species that I saw on Walker’s Cay. Each species name is followed by the highest daily count and the number of days seen (max. 4).

Brown Booby 2/1
Great Blue Heron 2/2
Great Egret 2/1
Cattle Egret 1/2
Green Heron 1/2
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 3/4
Peregrine Falcon 2/4
Willet 1/1
Ruddy Turnstone 2/2
Semipalmated Sandpiper 4/2
Least Sandpiper 3/1
Laughing Gull 1/1
Royal Tern 25/1
White-crowned Pigeon 2/4
Eurasian Collared-Dove 6/4
Mourning Dove 2/2
Common Ground-Dove 14/4
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2/1
Cuban Emerald 1/1
Bahama Woodstar 2/3
Belted Kingfisher 2/4
Acadian Flycatcher 1/2
Unidentified Empidonax 1/2
Eastern Kingbird 2/4
Gray Kingbird 4/4
Tree Swallow 1/1
Barn Swallow 4/2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1/2
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1/1
Swainson’s Thrush 1/2
Gray Catbird 2/2
Northern Mockingbird 4/4
White-eyed Vireo 1/1
Thick-billed Vireo 1/1
Red-eyed Vireo 2/2
Northern Parula 3/4
Yellow Warbler 1/3
Magnolia Warbler 4/4
Cape May Warbler 10/4
Black-throated Blue Warbler 45/4
Yellow-throated Warbler 1/4
Pine Warbler 1/1
Prairie Warbler 4/4
Palm Warbler 30/4
Black-and-white Warbler 30/4
American Redstart 50/4
Prothonotary Warbler 1/2
Worm-eating Warbler 1/1
Ovenbird 40/4
Northern Waterthrush 7/4
Louisiana Waterthrush 1/2
Common Yellowthroat 20/4
Hooded Warbler 2/4
Bananaquit 4/4
Summer Tanager 3/4
Scarlet Tanager 1/1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2/2
Blue Grosbeak 4/4
Indigo Bunting 18/4
Chipping Sparrow 1/1
Clay-colored Sparrow 8/4
Bobolink 16/4
Baltimore Oriole 1/2
House Sparrow 25/4

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