Comments: Nesting and foraging may occur in two distinctly different habitat types, coastal mangroves and tropical hardwood hammocks.
In Florida, most nests are in colonies typically on small mangrove islets that offer maximum protection from terrestrial predators. However, some colonies nest in remote stretches of coastal mangroves along the Florida Bay.
In the Bahamas, colonies have been described as occurring on open, rocky islets, some birds nesting on top of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) usually a few feet apart (Owre 1978). Maynard (1896) describes over 10,000 unoccupied nests present in cacti on an island less than 0.4 hectares (1 acre) in size.
In Puerto Rico, some birds breed in trees bordering a golf course (Wiley and Wiley 1979). Wiley and Wiley (1979) report that 86% of nests in one Puerto Rico location (Roosevelt Roads) were found in black mangroves, 10% in red mangroves and 4% in white mangroves. At another location (Dorado Beach), royal palm (Roystonea elata) and Australian beefwood were used most often, but Indian almond (Terminalia catappa), mango, maria, ceboruquillo (Thouinia striata), water mampoo, muneco (Cordia borinquensis), mamey (Mammea americana), jacana, mago, ucar (Bucida buceras), and gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba) were also used for nesting. At a third location (Mona Island), over one-third of the birds nested in gumbo limbo, an equal amount in poisonwood, and the remainder in mahogany, beefwood and short-leaf fig.
The nest is usually located at the fork of a horizontal branch, ranging from the canopy to the ground, but usually 1-2 meters high (Wiley and Wiley 1979, Strong et al. 1991). Nest heights may vary with the risk of potential disturbance due to human activities (Wiley and Wiley 1979). The nest consists of a shallow, loosely crossed cup of twigs, lined with grass and rootlets (Ehrlich et al. 1988, Raffaele 1989).