Cuba for the Bird(er)s

With more than 350 bird species, Cuba is an ornithologist’s paradise. Birders flock to spy the isle’s 21 endemic species found nowhere else, among them the world’s smallest bird—the thimble-sized zunzuncito hummingbird. The following venues cover sufficiently diverse terrain to check off a vast list of avian fauna. If needed, you can arrange an experienced guide through Cuba’s EcoTur tour agency.

Bird-watching in Western Cuba

  • Las Terrazas: This eco-resort lies within Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario, Cuba’s first biosphere reserve. The trill of Cuban green woodpeckers and the haunting song of the endemic Cuban solitaire accompany you on the trails, and the Cuban trogon, or tocororó, is commonly seen near the Cafetal Buenavista.
  • Parque Nacional de Viñales: Exploring the Sierra de los Órganos and the world-famous Viñales valley grants a chance to spot the Cuban parrot, the yellow-headed warbler, and the minuscule bee hummingbird.

Bird-watching in Central Cuba

  • Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata: The largest swamp in the Caribbean is a perfect place to search for the Zapata wren, the Zapata rail, and other endemic species. Endangered Fernandina’s flickers are often seen in the deciduous forests near Bermejas. The tidal flats at Laguna de las Salinas are a major site for waders and water fowl, including flamingos. With luck you might spot such endemics as the Cuban martin and Gundlach’s hawk.
  • Finca La Belén: Denizens of the semideciduous woodland and tropical montane forest include Cuban parrots, the endangered giant kingbird, and tocororós, or Cuban trogons.
  • Cayo Coco: Time your arrival at this offshore cay to coincide with the flamingo flyover at dusk. Roseate spoonbills, egrets, piping plovers, and Oriente warblers are among the birds to look for as you explore Parque Nacional El Bagá.

Bird-watching in Eastern Cuba

  • Parque Nacional de Alejandro Humboldt: The Holy Grail is the ivory-billed woodpecker, last seen here in 1987. One-fifth of birds here are Cuban endemics, including the Cuban Amazon, Cuban parakeet, and critically endangered Cuban kite.

By Christopher P. Baker, Moon Travel Guides

March 4, 2015

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