Bird Watching

Bird Watching in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are world-renowned for bird watching, particularly on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Joanna Boxall image
Last updated 19 December, 2023

Over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the Cayman Islands, around 50 of which are resident species, the remainder being breeding migrants.

Across the three islands there are also five seabird colonies and there are seven bird sanctuaries on Grand Cayman. Birdwatchers will find opportunities to observe many species of birds on all three islands, particularly around any fresh water or brackish ponds. The best times for bird watching are early morning and late afternoon. Some species to look out for include the Grand Cayman Parrot, the Cayman Brac Parrot, the West Indian Whistling Duck, the Magnificent Frigate bird, Brown Boobies and Red Footed Boobies.

Grand Cayman

Particularly good areas for sighting indigenous and migratory birds are the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, the Mastic Trail. Tours of the Mastic Trail and Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary, all located in Grand Cayman. The National Trust provides tours of the Mastic Trail, and Ann Stafford of CaymANNature who is a fully licensed and knowledgeable Nature Tour Guide provides excellent tours covering the flora and fauna of the Cayman Islands. 

Cayman Brac

Bird watching is particularly good from October to April when migrating birds pass through in search of fresh water and warmer weather. With some 200 species of full and part time resident birds, the Island is an ornithologist’s paradise. Land birds you may see include the rare Cayman Brac Parrot, the red–legged thrush and the West Indian whistling duck. There are also five seabird colonies. The 310 acre Brac Parrot Reserve was established in 1990 to protect the Brac’s endemic Parrot and various other species of bird. A two mile trail through the reserve offers the chance to see some rare species. Visit for more information.

Little Cayman

Thousands of migratory birds pass over Little Cayman and many make this Island their home, due to the many ponds and numerous wetland areas. The National Trust’s Booby Pond Nature Reserve, home to the largest breeding colony of Red-footed Boobies in the Western Hemisphere, is a 200-acre site of international importance. 20,000 Boobies breed here, as does a large colony of magnificent frigates. Take advantage of the Trust’s viewing deck that is equipped with telescopes, to watch the herons, ducks, warblers, plovers, sandpipers and other birds dip and dive. Call the National Trust on (345) 948 1077 for more information or visit

The Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park in Grand Cayman is a great place to see local and visiting birds. Stroll the Woodland Trail which is a one-mile loop through mostly intact dry forest, read the signs explaining the geology, hydrography and botany of Grand Cayman, and learn about the various microhabitats that exist side-by-side along the trail.

Predominant species along the Woodland Trail include the Grand Cayman Woodpecker, the Cayman Parrot, the Caribbean Elaenia, the La Sagra’s Flycatcher, the Loggerhead Kingbird, the Thick-billed and Yucatán Vireos, the Vitelline Warbler, the Cayman Bananaquit, and Grand Cayman Bullfinch.

When you return to the landscaped gardens, there is a large pond beside the pavilion where you can often find waterbirds, including West Indian Whistling-Duck.

All thirteen woodland birds that are unique to Grand Cayman can be found in the Mastic Reserve. Of these, the Cuban Parrot, Vitelline Warbler, Cuban Bullfinch, and Thick-billed Vireo are also restricted-range species. Non-endemic forest birds that are commonly seen include the White-crowned Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Common Ground Dove, Zenaida Dove, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, and Smooth-billed Ani.

Between early autumn and late spring, the Mastic Trail is also a great location to spot migratory birds. Warbler species that frequently over-winter here include the Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, Black and White Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and American Redstart. Other migratory forest birds recorded along the trail include Grey Catbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and we now know that the more secretive Swainson’s Warbler overwinters here as well.

Over 60 species – a quarter of all the bird species native to the Cayman Islands – have been observed here at one time or another. Some of the types of birds that can often be seen are Moorhens, Herons, Egrets, Grebes, Ducks, Rails, Plovers, Sandpipers, Terns, Pigeons, Doves, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, Kingbirds, Flycatchers, Vireos, Warblers and Grassquits. It is also quite possible to see a few of the rarer species, like the diminutive Least Bittern, or the beautiful Purple Gallinule.

The pond’s popularity with the birds is seasonal, with the greatest activity during the dry season when this may be the only substantial body of fresh water for some distance.

For something aimed more at children, although very interesting for adults as well, there is the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary. It is a wonderful sanctuary where hurt, distressed and mishandled Cayman Parrots, which are our national bird of the Cayman Islands, go to be healed, loved and rehabilitated. They have released over 30 parrots back into the wild since opening in June 2020. It is also home to a number of other animals including agoutis, rabbits, guinea pigs, cockatiels and various reptiles. Families can enjoy feeding the frigate birds which swoop down from the coast. Children can run wild in the two playgrounds, relax in plenty of shaded areas and experience the thrill of zip lining! 


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