Fort Amsterdam is a 2.5 kilometre long peninsula of land in the south-east of St. Maarten between Great Bay and Little Bay, near the town of Philipsburg. The peninsula is covered in thorny Acacia shrubland. The protected historical site Fort Amsterdam is located on top of the peninsula and consists of several ruins, including a few walls, a storage building and the remains of 19th century cannons. The fort was built in 1631 and was the first Dutch military outpost in the Caribbean.
Birdlife International has designated Fort Amsterdam as an Important Bird Area for St. Maarten. The area has been denominated as IBA AN004. Fort Amsterdam is significant for its regionally important colony of Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). The breeding population varies greatly between years, but up to 60 pairs of pelican breed on a slope below the fort. The Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) has been conducting regular counts of the pelicans since 2001. The peninsula’s thorny vegetation helps protect the pelican nesting area from visitors, however the waters around the area are heavily used by dive boats, jet skis and parasail boats which causes disturbance to the nesting seabirds.
All five Lesser Antilles Endemic Bird Area (EBA) restricted-range birds occur at Fort Amsterdam, namely: Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus), Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus), Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis), Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus) and Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica).Source: BirdLife International. (2008). Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: Key sites for Conservation. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 15).