• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Caribbean Elaenia - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies caymanensis
Photo by noddingdogbob
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, March 2006
Elaenia martinica


15.5 - 18 cm (6-7 inches) mainly olive-gray flycatcher.
Upperside is olive-gray with two whitish wing-bars, seemingly variable in strength geographically.
Throat and lower belly is lighter, and some places seems to have a yellow belly, sometimes more noticeable on photos than during observation.

Juvenile, Subspecies martinica
Photo by njlarsen
Dominica, September 2004

In Dominica, the cheek below the eye seems to be as dark as the area above the eye, another variable feature, it seems.
When these birds are excited, they can pull the crown feathers to the side and show a white to yellowish white stripe in the middle. Otherwise show very minimal crest.
Upper mandible is black, lower mandible has pink base two-thirds out.
Legs are dark.

Similar Species

Yellow-bellied Elaenia has a more yellow underside, and a stronger crest (Range overlap in St. Vincent and Grenada).


The seven subspecies are distributed across the southern parts of the Caribbean, both along the western side (off Eastern Mexico) and the Lesser Antilles to Barbados. In addition found in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.



Subspecies martinica
Photo by njlarsen
Savane Paille, Dominica, June 2017

There are 7 subspecies[1]:

  • E. m. riisii:
  • E. m. martinica:
  • E. m. barbadensis:
  • E. m. remota:
  • Islands off eastern Mexico (Cozumel, Meco, Mujeres, Holbox)
  • E. m. chinchorrensis:
  • Great Cay Island off Quintana Roo (eastern Mexico)
  • E. m. cinerascens:
  • San Andrés, Providéncia, Santa Catalina Islands (off Honduras)
  • E. m. caymanensis:


Forests, scrubs, gardens and woodlands; mostly in lowlands, but where the Yellow-bellied Elaenia is also found, Caribbean Elaenia normally is displaced to the higher ground.


Often sits on branches a little below the the top of the bush/tree so that they are not visible to the Gray Kingbird, a very agressive species to other birds that catch insects.


Their diet consists of both insects and fruit.


They construct a flimsy cup-shaped nest from twigs. It is placed about 9 m above the ground in a tree or shrub. The clutch consists of 2-3 eggs.


People from North America sometimes think they hear an Eastern Phoebe when this species is around.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2017)

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.