Thursday, August 16, 2018

Updated list of Cuba’s extinct birds

Cuba had a former, richly diverse bird fauna, most of which is today extinct. In recent years, the known species have seen revisions, additions, and deletions that have changed the topography of the species' roster. For the benefit of all those interested, here I provide an actualized list of Cuba’s extinct birds reflecting those changes.

This has been the recent topic of an article I have now submitted to an ornithological journal with the hopes that it may aid my peers in understanding the diversity of long-gone Cuban birds. But most especially, my intent has been to divulge in a single compendium an actualized list that reflects those recent changes.

Update: this paper is now published and available at the journal Ornitologia Neotropical here.

Much work it is jet to be done, and with the interesting new deposits being explored and researched in the Greater Antillean island of Hispaniola and The Bahamas, it would not surprise me to see Cuban species, even some of those we today consider endemics, appear in those contexts.

With that said, here is the list:
Supercohort: Dinosauria

Class: Aves

Order: Pelecaniformes

Family: Ardeidae Leach, 1820

(Herons and egrets)

Tigrisoma mexicanum Swaison 1834, reported by Olson & Suarez (2008). This is a Tiger-heron.


Order: Ciconiiformes

Family: Ciconiidae J. E. Gray, 1840

Ciconia lydekkeri (Ameghino 1891), is considered a senior synonym of C. maltha (L. Miller 1910:440) by Agnolin (2009).
Ciconia sp. This species was mentioned by Suárez & Olson (2003a: 151) .

Mycteria wetmorei Howard 1935: 253. (See Iturralde et al. 2000; Suárez & Olson 2003a).


Order: Incertae Sedis or Accipitriformes

Family: Teratornithidae L. Miller, 1909
(large, near flightless terrestrial raptor birds)

Oscaravis olsoni (Arredondo & Arredondo 1999:16) (=Teratornis olsoni) amended and redescribed by Suárez & Olson (2009:106).

Order: Accipitriformes or Cathartiformes

Family: Cathartidae Lafresnaye, 1839
(vultures and condors)

Gymnogyps varonai (Arredondo 1971:310) (=Antillovultur varonai). Amended by Suárez (2000a).

Cathartes sp. 1 or Cathartidae indet. 2. See Suárez (2001c:110).


Family: Accipitridae Vieillot, 1816
(hawks and falcons)

Amplibuteo woodwardi (L. Miller 1911:312), reported in Suárez (2004).

Buteo lineatus (Gmelin 1788:268), reported in Suárez & Olson (2003b).

Buteogallus borrasi (Arredondo 1970) =Aquila borrasi Arredondo (1970) amended by Suárez & Olson 2007.

Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus Swan, 1922:67. Reported by Alexander Wetmore (1928).

Gigantohierax suarezi Arredondo & Arredondo 1999: 10. Now includes specimens previously identified as Aguila borrasi (=Buteogallus borrasi).

Caracara creightoni Brodkorb 1959:353, reported by Suárez & Olson (2003c:306).

Milvago carbo Suárez & Olson (2003:302).

Milvago sp. from Suárez & Arrendondo (1997).

Falco femoralis Temminck 1922:121. This Aplomado falcon was reported by Suárez & Olson (2003b).
Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) near the town of Tinke, at the foot of the majestic Ausangate Mountain, Peru.

Falco kurochkini Suárez & Olson 2001a:35.


Order: Gruiformes

Family: Gruidae Vigors, 1825

Grus cubensis (Fischer & Stephan 1971a:565).


Family: Rallidae Rafinesque, 1815

Nesotrochis picapicensis (Fischer & Stephan 1971b:595), revised and amended by Olson (1974). This is an endemic near-flightless Cuban rail. Puerto Rico had a similar species.


Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Burhinidae Mathews, 1912

Burhinus sp. reported by Oscar Arredondo (1984). This is another form of water bird called the Double-striped Thick-knee that lives in Central and South America.


Family: Scolopacidae Rafinesque, 1815

Gallinago kakuki by Steadman & Takano (2016: 348). Formerly Capella sp. (Suárez 2004a). This is a type of sandpiper or snipe.

Order: Psittaciformes

Family:  Psittacidae Rafinesque, 1815

Ara tricolor Bechstein 1811:64 (= A. cubensis of Wetherbee, 1985). The Cuban macaw:  see my previous post on this species here.


Family: Tytonidae Ridgway, 1914

Tyto noeli Arredondo 1972a: 416. This species new included Tyto neddi of Steadman & Hilgartner (1999) from Barbuda. This is a large barn owl, like the other species listed below.

Tyto pollens Wetmore 1937:436. This taxon now includes Tyto riveroi Arredondo 1972b: 131. The rarest of all Cuban tytonids, known from a single locality. 

Tyto cravesae Suárez & Olson 2015: 544.

Tyto sp. A small species reported by Suárez & Díaz-Franco (2003: 375).


Family: Strigidae Leach, 1820

Bubo osvaldoi Arredondo & Olson 1994:438.

Pulsatrix arredondoi Brodkorb, 1969: 112.

Ornimegalonyx oteroi Arredondo 1958: 11.

Ornimegalonyx acevedoi Arredondo, 1982: 95.

Ornimegalonyx minor Arredondo, 1982: 46.

Ornimegalonyx gigas Arredondo, 1982: 47.

It is likely that all Ornimegalonyx represent a single species. Their size disparity could be due to sexual dimorphism, chrono-temporal or/and individual variation (Alegre 2002).


Order: Caprimulgiformes

Family: Caprimulgidae Vigors, 1825

Siphonorhis daiquiri Olson, 1985:528. This is the endemic pauraque or Cuban Poorwill, a species of nightjar.


Order: Passeriformes

Family: Rhinocryptidae Wetmore, 1930

Scytalopus sp. reported by Olson and Kurochkin (1987). This is a small passerine bird commonly known as "tapaculo".


Family: Icteridae

Dolichonyx kruegeri Fischer & Stephan (1971: 597). This is likely a misidentified specimen of Bobolink (D. oryzivorus), an uncommon transient species in Cuba (Garrido & Kirkconnell 2000: 218).