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143 species recorded during February bird survey in Cuba

Birders at La Guira National Park, Pinar del Río Province, Cuba, February 2016, by Bruce Schwartz.
Birders at La Guira National Park, Pinar del Río Province, Cuba, February 2016, by Bruce Schwartz.

Earlier this year, BirdWatching Magazine, in partnership with the Caribbean Conservation Trust, presented an exclusive U.S.-led, U.S.-managed birding program in Cuba. Fourteen birders came along, one from as far away as Alaska.

The bird survey took place February 6-16, 2016. The survey started and ended in Havana and included Cuba’s Western Mountains, the diverse wetland region of the Zapata Peninsula, and Cayo Coco and surrounding keys, on Cuba’s Atlantic coast.

Largely because of the excellent chemistry and supportive cohesion of the participants, the tour was a great success. The group spotted 143 bird species (listed below), including 21 of Cuba’s 26 endemic species, 17 of the 22 species that are endemic to the West Indies and inhabit the Cuban archipelago, and three endangered species — Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Zapata Wren, and Zapata Sparrow.

Participants also got to visit with Orlando Garrido, Cuba’s most prolific living naturalist and the senior author of Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba (Comstock Books), and they enjoyed another rare treat — counting 983 American Flamingos, an astonishing total.

Read a detailed description of our February 2016 Cuba bird survey.

Cuban Tody on Cayo Coco, Cuba, by Maureen Breakiron-Evans.
Cuban Tody on Cayo Coco, Cuba, by Maureen Breakiron-Evans.

Cuban endemic species recorded (21)

Cuban Black Hawk
Blue-headed Quail-Dove
Bare-legged Owl
Cuban Pygmy Owl
Bee Hummingbird
Cuban Trogon
Cuban Tody
Cuban Green Woodpecker
Fernandina’s Flicker
Cuban Parakeet
Cuban Vireo
Zapata Wren
Cuban Gnatcatcher
Cuban Solitaire
Yellow-headed Warbler
Oriente Warbler
Cuban Grassquit
Cuban (Zapata) Sparrow
Cuban Oriole
Red-shouldered Blackbird
Cuban Blackbird


West Indian endemic species recorded (17)

West Indian Whistling-Duck
Great Lizard-Cuckoo
Antillean Palm-Swift
Cuban Emerald
West Indian Woodpecker
Cuban Parrot
Cuban Pewee
La Sagra’s Flycatcher
Loggerhead Kingbird
Thick-billed Vireo
Cuban Crow
Red-legged Thrush
Olive-capped Warbler
Western Spindalis
Cuban Bullfinch
Tawny-shouldered Blackbird
Greater Antillean Grackle

Cuban Parrots, photo by Rich Wagner.
Cuban Parrots, photo by Rich Wagner.

All bird species recorded (143)

Below, Cuban endemic species are listed in bold type. West Indian endemic species are in italics. Numerals indicate numbers of individuals counted.

West Indian Whistling-Duck 4
Fulvous Whistling-Duck 8
Blue-winged Teal 54
Ring-necked Duck 180
Lesser Scaup 90
Red-breasted Merganser 8
Ruddy Duck 6
Pied-billed Grebe 12
Wood Stork 8
Magnificent Frigatebird 12
Neotropic Cormorant 28
Double-crested Cormorant 19
American White Pelican 76
Brown Pelican 89
Least Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 31
Great Egret 171
Snowy Egret 60
Little Blue Heron 58
Tricolored Heron 37
Reddish Egret 62
Cattle Egret 687
Green Heron 13
Black-crowned Night-Heron 8
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1
White Ibis 58
Glossy Ibis 30
Roseate Spoonbill 8
American Flamingo 983
Turkey Vulture 775
Osprey 6
Snail Kite 1
Cuban Black Hawk 4
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Clapper Rail 2
King Rail 2
Sora 1
Purple Gallinule 4
Common Gallinule 21
American Coot 103
Limpkin 5
Black-bellied Plover 4
Semipalmated Plover 50
Killdeer 25
Black-necked Stilt 62
Northern Jacana 5
Ruddy Turnstone 60
Sanderling 40
Wilson’s Snipe 3
Laughing Gull 11
Gull-billed Tern 5
Caspian Tern 67
Royal Tern 46
Black Skimmer 19
Rock Pigeon 413
White-crowned Pigeon 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 32
Zenaida Dove 16
Mourning Dove 88
Common Ground-Dove 16
Key West Quail-Dove 1
Ruddy Quail-Dove 2
Blue-headed Quail-Dove 5 (Endangered)
White-winged Dove 6
Mangrove Cuckoo 1
Great Lizard-Cuckoo 12
Smooth-billed Ani 27
Bare-legged Owl 1
Cuban Pygmy Owl 1
Stygian Owl 3
Greater Antillean Nightjar 3
Antillean Palm-Swift 23
Bee Hummingbird 3
Cuban Emerald 21
Cuban Trogon 9
Cuban Tody 6
Belted Kingfisher 7
West Indian Woodpecker 16
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Cuban Green Woodpecker 9
Northern Flicker 2
Fernandina’s Flicker 2
Crested Caracara 16
American Kestrel 40
Merlin 1
Cuban Parakeet 13
Cuban Parrot 55
Cuban Pewee 9
La Sagra’s Flycatcher 7
Gray Kingbird 1
Loggerhead Kingbird 12
White-eyed Vireo 1
Thick-billed Vireo 10
Cuban Vireo 11
Cuban Crow 3
Tree Swallow 25
Cave Swallow 70
Zapata Wren 2 (Endangered)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 11
Cuban Gnatcatcher 4
Cuban Solitaire 2
Wood Thrush 2
Red-legged Thrush 32
Gray Catbird 23
Northern Mockingbird 48
Ovenbird 6
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Northern Waterthrush 7
Black-and-white Warbler 4
Tennessee Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 14
Hooded Warbler 1
American Redstart 20
Cape May Warbler 1
Northern Parula 8
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 3
Black-throated Blue Warbler 6
Palm Warbler 35
Olive-capped Warbler 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Yellow-throated Warbler 7
Prairie Warbler 2
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Yellow-headed Warbler 10
Oriente Warbler 4
Summer Tanager 2
Western Spindalis 12
Red-legged Honeycreeper 2
Cuban Grassquit 14
Yellow-faced Grassquit 65
Cuban Bullfinch 15
Zapata Sparrow 5 (Endangered)
Blue Grosbeak 1
Indigo Bunting 2
Red-shouldered Blackbird 10
Tawny-shouldered Blackbird 35
Eastern Meadowlark 3
Cuban Blackbird 59
Greater Antillean Grackle 56
Cuban Oriole 8
House Sparrow 51

Itinerary summary

Day 1: Saturday, February 6
Arrive in Havana. Visit with Orlando Garrido. Overnight at Hotel Habana Libre.


Day 2: Sunday, February 7
Travel west to San Diego de los Banos, birding at La Guira National Park.

Day 3: Monday, February 8
Morning birding at Hacienda Cortina, then travel east to Zapata Peninsula. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga.

Day 4: Tuesday, February 9
Morning birding in Bermejas. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga.

Day 5: Wednesday, February 10
Morning birding in Zapata Swamp National Park, afternoon birding on west coast of Bay of Pigs. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga.

Day 6: Thursday, February 11
Travel northeast to Cayo Coco, off Cuba’s northern coast. Overnight at Sol Cayo Coco.


Day 7: Friday, February 12
Morning birding on Cayo Paredon Grande, afternoon birding on Cayo Guillermo. Overnight at Sol Cayo Coco.

Day 8: Saturday, February 13
Morning birding at Cayo Coco. Travel southwest to Sancti Spiritus.

Day 9: Sunday, February 14
Drive west to Havana. Overnight at Hotel Habana Libre.

Day 10: Monday, February 15
Guided walking tour of Old Havana, lunch in one of the four historic plazas, and a ride in vintage American cars.

I am indebted to trip participants Sher Schwartz and Heidi Ekstrand for their invaluable assistance preparing the bird list. — Chuck Hagner, Editor


Read a detailed description of our February 2016 Cuba bird survey.

Read an article about birding in Cuba.


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