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Dominica is a country (full name: Commonwealth of Dominica) consisting of a single island situated in the Lesser Antilles. This should not be confused with the Dominican Republic, a country situated on the island Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles. Both countries are of course parts of the Caribbean = West Indies.
Dominica is a tropical island with a young geological history. It was produced as a result of volcanic activity, and there are still seven active volcanic centers on the island. For this reason, it has a very steep, rugged terrain, with peaks that reach about 4700 feet (1500 meters). The result is that it has still not been possible to build an airport that can take long distance flights, so for access to Dominica, you will need to fly in from e.g., Puerto Rico or Antigua.
Endemism in Dominica
The description of Lesser Antilles lists a number of bird species that are endemic to that area, including two parrots, Imperial Parrot (Sisserou) and Red-necked Parrot (Jaco), that are endemic to Dominica. Additionally, Dominica has two species that are found there and on one more island each: Plumbeous Warbler in Dominica and Guadeloupe and Blue-headed Hummingbird found in Dominica and Martinique. In all, eleven birds listed as endemic to Lesser Antilles are found in Dominica. At least three species have populations in Dominica and surrounding islands that may warrant further study, because they are strongly isolated from other populations of the same species. The Barn Owl in Dominica, St. Vincent and Grenada is equally often listed as Ashy-faced Owl, but might warrant specific status. Red-legged Thrush in Dominica is far from the remainder of the population in the Greater Antilles and warrants further study. Antillean Euphonia in the Lesser Antilles has much less if any sexual dimorphism as opposed to the Antillean Euphonia in the Greater Antilles. The Brown Thrasher in Dominica and St. Vincent seems to be a different species when compared to the Guadeloupe birds, but populations north of Guadeloupe should be studied.
In addition, there are endemic reptiles, insects, and plants in Dominica.
Birding in Dominica
Most target species for a traveling birder can be seen with one-two full days of birding. The Imperial Parrot and the Ruddy Quail Dove are not so easy and cannot be guaranteed during a short visit. In one week, an active birder should collect a species list around 50-55. Living in Dominica a full year, working but being active when given a chance, produced 80 species including a couple of surprise visits.
Habitats in Dominica
The top of the mountains have elfin forest, and below them, one will find rainforest which in places receive more than 8 meters of annual rainfall. Coastal Scrub Forest is found below that, with the west coast being somewhat drier than the east coast; along the west coast, the areas are dry enough to support succulents (cactus). Swamps, mangrove, etc are quite rare in Dominica, and the only real lakes are manmade. Rivers and streams are numerous, with Layou River the largest.
Rainfall is stronger in the period from June to November, sometimes continuing to January, but even the driest period still have rain showers every few days.