The island of Cuba supports a rich diversity of birdlife, with a total of 25 bird species endemic to the island. As a result, the island is designated as a BirdLife International Endemic Bird Area (EBA), highlighting the importance of the island’s landscape for bird conservation. However, due to a history of unsustainable activities, such as logging, and encroaching urbanisation, only 15 to 20 percent of the land remains in its natural state. Much of the forest has been converted to coffee and tobacco plantations, while the expansion of agricultural land, using slash-and-burn techniques, has destroyed vast areas of lowland forest. As a direct consequence, many of Cuba’s birds, which were once widespread, are now extremely rare and threatened with extinction (6).
The Dominican Republic also harbours a vast array of bird species. The island of Hispaniola (consisting of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) supports 31 endemic bird species, and is also designated as an EBA. However, only 10 percent of the Dominican Republic remains forested, while tragically, only 1.5 percent of Haiti’s landscape is forested. These saddening figures make Hispaniola one of the most environmentally degraded areas in the world (7) (8).
In the face of such severe habitat loss, the grey-headed quail-dove has undergone a rapid decline, and only a small population, estimated between 2,500 and 10,000 birds, remains. Habitat loss can be attributed as the main cause behind the extirpation of the species from Haiti and the Sierra de Neiba in the Dominican Republic, while it may be near-extinction on Cordillera Central (3). In Cuba, the grey-headed quail-dove is also threatened by hunting with baited traps, while the introduction of domestic cats throughout its range may increase mortality (3) (9). In the Zapata Peninsular, the grey-headed quail-dove is threatened by dry season fires, the drainage of wetland areas, and predation by introduced predators, such as mongooses and rats (6).