Republic of Cuba
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean (110,860 km2) and only slightly smaller in land area (including all the offshore cays) than England. The population is just over 11 million people of which almost a third live in the capital, Havana. The political stability that has marked the years since the revolution in 1959 has not been matched by the economy which has suffered for a variety of reasons. The financial benefits of tourism have been widely embraced in the last 15 years or so which has resulted in improved facilities for visitors and many of these are near to popular birding hotspots. Cubans are a warm and friendly people and visting birders are unlikely to experience any problems. Crime, especially violent crime, is virtually unknown.
Cuba has a wide variety of habitats from coastal mangrove to montain cloud forest and including important man-made habitats such as rice fields. Four main mountain ranges dominate an otherwise lowland landscape of arid scrub, savanna, and forest, with extensive wetlands found on the Zapata peninsula and in the Cauto River delta. Forest can be divided into several different types including lowland and montane rain forest, cloud forest, and drier seasonal (deciduous) forest, which was once very widespread in the lowlands. Coniferous forest is restricted to the eastern and western ends of the island where it is the dominant vegetation type.
Recent survey work has revealed that, as well as being significant for restricted-range birds, Cuban forests are extremely important wintering areas for Nearctic breeding species, equal to the richest sites that have been surveyed elsewhere in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Cuba has developed a system of protected areas in a variety of habitats across the country. These have various designations and levels of protection - some 12% of the total land area falls within the 200 or so conservation units. The most important have international designations including six Ramsar sites and six Biosphere reserves. BirdLife recognises 28 Important Bird Areas (IBA) within the whole territory of Cuba, which is an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) in itself.
However, much of Cuba's native vegetation has been converted to cultivation and pasture for cattle over the past 200 years, with only 15-20% of land remaining in its natural state. Today, expansion of cacao, coffee and tobacco production are serious threats to rain forest, while logging, charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture are destroying dry forest. Tourist facilities have sometimes been located inappropriately and extensions to rice and bean growing areas have impinged on important wetlands, including mangrove fringes.
Birds and birding
Around 370 species have been reported from Cuba with a high level of endemism (28 species) and a number of Caribbean specialties. Six of the endemic species are listed as 'restricted range' by BirdLife whilst a further 14 are designated Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. A further 19 species under these criteria have been recorded from Cuba, such as the Piping Plover, which is a relatively uncommon winter visitor to the archipelago.
Having said that, it is not too difficult to plan a birding trip to see the majority of the endemic birds, the exceptions being Cuban Kite (far to the east, largely inaccessible and almost extinct) and Zapata Rail (Critically Endangered and largely invisible). To find Cuban Martin, which is known to breed only in Cuba, and Antillean Nighthawk, both of which presumably winter somewhere in South America, you need to visit in summer, preferably from mid March or even mid April, respectively. Note that most birders will probably also want to avoid the summer (after May) and the hurricane season, which ends in late November, although the latter month can be excellent for passage migrants. Winter is excellent to see the largest numbers of individual Nearctic migrants, although a visit during either spring or autumn passage has the potential to ‘net’ more species.
There are quite considerable distances to cover just to reach the four main sites starting from Havana – in general, there are more birds in the western half of the country, more of the endemics and more facilities for the tourist. A trip of nine or ten days is the minimum needed to ensure covering the main sites but even in this time you run the risk of missing out on some species, with two weeks being the ideal length of a trip and less taxing!
This is a cay off the north coast of Cuba, now linked to the mainland by a causeway some 17 km long. The island has been developed as an all-inclusive beach tourism destination but large areas are still unspoilt and home to some interesting species. Of the endemics, there is Cuban Gnatcatcher and Oriente Warbler that you must see. In addition there are some interesting species found nowhere else in Cuba such as Bahama Mockingbird and Thick-billed Vireo. There is a race of Cuban Sparrow here as well as Gundlach’s Hawk and its position means that migrant falls are relatively common.
Cuchillas del Toa - Guantanamo Province
Oriente - The last place that Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Cuban Kite were seen. Mountain and river birds.
An area of open savannah and woodlands to the south-east of Camagüey city which encompasses the reserve at La Belen. There are 15 of the endemics to found here but it is the only place to find the Cuban Palm Crow and much the easiest place to see Giant Kingbird, Cuban Parakeet and the near-threatened Caribbean speciality, Plain Pigeon.
Topes de Collantes - Escambray-Sancti Spiritus Province.
Mountain birds. Endemic birds found here include Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon and Cuban Emerald.
Viñales Valley-La Güira
This area to the west of Havana is largely pine-forested limestone hills interspersed with low-level agriculture. This is the place to find the Cuban Solitaire and now is also the easiest place to find Cuban Grassquit. Many other endemics are here and it is a good starting point for any birding trip to Cuba to get to grips with the commoner species.
Zapata Swamp - Matanzas Province
A huge area (over half a million hectares) this is the largest wetland in the Caribbean. It has extensive cave lake systems with spectacular blue holes, flooded caves and important water resources. There is also critical habitat in the form of forest, flooded palm savannas, open waterand salinas, reefs and mangroves. It is simply the best birding in Cuba and the following endemics can be found there: Gundlach's Hawk, Zapata Rail, Grey-fronted Quail-dove, Blue-headed Quail-dove, Cuban Parakeet, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Pygmy-owl, Cuban Nightjar, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina's Flicker, Giant Kingbird, Cuban Vireo, Cuban Crow, Zapata Wren, Yellow-headed Warbler, Cuban Blackbird, Red-shouldered Blackbird, Cuban Sparrow, Cuban Grassquit.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 384
(As at September 2018)
National Bird: Cuban Trogon Priotelus temnurus
Number of endemics: 25
Gundlachs Hawk Accipiter gundlachi, Cuban Black-Hawk Buteogallus gundlachii, Cuban Green Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus, Fernandina's Flicker Colaptes fernandinae, Cuban Trogon Priotelus temnurus, Cuban Tody Todus multicolor, Cuban Parakeet Aratinga euops, Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae, Bare-legges Owl Otus lawrencii, Cuban Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium siju, Gray-fronted Quail-Dove Geotrygon caniceps, Blue-headed Quail-Dove Starnoenas cyanocephala, Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai, Giant Kingbird Tyrannus cubensis, Cuban Vireo Vireo gundlachii, Cuban Solitaire Myadestes elisabeth, Zapata Wren Ferminia cerverai, Cuban Gnatcatcher Polioptila lembeyei, Zapata Sparrow Torreornis inexpectata, Yellow-headed Warbler Teretistris fernandinae, Oriente Warbler Teretistris fornsi, Cuban Grassquit Tiaris canora, Red-shouldered Blackbird Agelaius assimilis, Cuban Blackbird Dives atroviolacea, Cuban Oriole Icterus melanopsis
(22 other species occur here that are regional endemics such as Cuban Palm Crow Corvus palmarum, Greater Antillean nightjar Antrostomus cubanensis & Cuban Crow Corvus nasicus)
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
A Birdwatchers' Guide to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Caymans
By Guy Kirwan, Arturo Kirkconnell & Mike Flieg | Prion | 2010 | Paperback | 198 pages, Line illustrations, maps |
ISBN: 9781871104127Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Cuba
By Orlando Garrido, Arturo Kirkconnell & Roman Company | Christopher Helm | 2000 | Paperback | 253 pages, 51 colour plates, b/w illustrations, 145 b/w distribution maps |
ISBN: 0713657847Buy this book from NHBS.com
(A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2016 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map |
ISBN: 9781583559819Buy this book from NHBS.com
Endemic Birds of Cuba
by Nils Navarro | Ediciones Nuevos Mundos | 2015 | Paperback | 168 pages | colour photos | colour illustrations | colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9780990941910Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of the West Indies
By Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith & Janis Raffaele | Christopher Helm | 2003 Paperback | 216 pages, 92 colour plates, 181 colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 0713654198Buy this book from NHBS.com
Centro Nacional de Areas Protegidas (Birdlife Cuba)
El Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas de Cuba (SNAP) está constituido por las áreas naturales, terrestres y marinas más importantes del país. Su funcionamiento es supervisado a través de una Junta Coordinadora, integrada por las principales entidades decisoras, de regulación y control y está estructurado en subsistemas provinciales, de forma descentralizada, en el cual las áreas protegidas como unidad básica de gestión, son administradas por diferentes instituciones. - Also see the Facebook page
BS Sierra del Rosario
Sierra del Rosario is mountain range in the Pinar del Río Province of Cuba. It is located in the western part of the Guaniguanico Range, in the north-central part of the province, between the municipalities of La Palma, Los Palacios and Consolación del. Fauna includes five species of bat and, numerous birds (notably the Bee hummingbird).
Cuba has an extensive network of protected areas and there are 274 listed on the website including all 15 national parks.
NP Alejandro de Humboldt
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of terrestrial biological diversity in the entire insular Caribbean. The park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for of its size, altitude range, complex lithology, landform diversity, and wealth of endemic flora and fauna. Fauna present in the park includes various species of parrots, lizards, hummingbirds, the endangered Cuban solenodon (endemic), hutia and snails.
NP Desembarco del Granma
The area, which is situated in and around Cabo Cruz in south-west Cuba, includes spectacular terraces and cliffs, as well as some of the most pristine and impressive coastal cliffs bordering the western Atlantic.
NP Topes de Collantes
Among Topes de Collantes' natural allure are flora and fauna equally as beautiful, including more than 40 species of orchids, 100 species of ferns, and the national flower of Cuba, the mariposa (butterfly lily). Plantain and banana trees grow wild here, as do begonias, ginger, jasmine, eucalyptus, and magnolias. Pine trees as tall as 140 feet provide adequate shade for approximately 40 species of coffee to grow. The trees are also home to various species of bird, including the Cuban ivory-billed woodpecker, the Cartacuba, the tocororo, and an assortment of hummingbirds.
NP Zapata Swamp
Zapata Swamp is located on the Zapata Peninsula in the southern Matanzas province of Cuba. It is located less than 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Havana. It is located on the Zapata Peninsula in the southern Matanzas province of Cuba, less than 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Havana. Within the Zapata Swamp are over 900 autochthonous plant species, 175 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles and over 1000 species of invertebrates. Some of the most notable are local endemics to Cuba; for birds, it includes the Zapata wren, Zapata rail, and the Zapata sparrow. The Zapata Swamp is also a particular habitat of the Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird species on the planet. The Zapata Swamp is also visited by 65 species of birds during their migration pattern from North America through the Caribbean to South America. Zapata is also known for the local endemic Cuban crocodile Crocodylus rhombifer which are restricted to the Zapata Swamp .
Guanaroca Nature Reserve is the region’s sole natural protected area, and it is easy to see why! Within the reserve is Laguna Guanaroca, a shimmering saline lake formed by the River Arimao. An astounding density of wildlife aggregates here, including a resident colony of more than 2,000 flamingos.
Guides & Tour Operators
Twenty years of operating tours in Cuba...
The tour starts in Cuba’s famous Zapata Swamp, one of the richest single sites throughout the West Indies, and continues across much of the western two-thirds of this island – which is widely regarded as the last bastion of communism in the world but is now gradually becoming slightly more liberalized. We will have good chances of finding all of Cuba’s endemics with the exception of the near-mythical Zapata Rail, whose voice is still not definitely known, and the extremely rare Cuban Kite, which is restricted to the extreme east of the island and requires a trip of near-expedition proportions for any chance of seeing it… ..
Cuba Birding Tours
Andy Mitchell, Cuba tours arranged - I can arrange every aspect of your trip including driving instructions and directions to birds. Contact me on email@example.com
Bird Watching Tour in Cuba - 8 days - Cuba`s birds include 22 endemic species to the island as well as several Greater Antillean endemics mixed with some North American and seasonal migration species.
El Chino de Zapata
Chino is a biologist, a naturalist and native of the Zapata Swamp with 40 years of experience as a natural history guide specializing in birds. He has published several articles relating to endangered species in the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology and in Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad de la Habana; a journal of the University of Havana. He has been guiding for more than 40 years for thousands of ornithologists and scientists who have visited Cuba...
If you are a nature and bird enthusiastic, and that taking photographs in our warm and enchanting Cuba sounds like an exciting experience to you, then you have come to the right place…
Kirkconnell Birds - Arturo Kirkconnell
…author of ‘A field Guide to the Birds of Cuba’ and has published 60 scientific papers about Cuban birds, including the forthcoming ‘Check-list of Cuban Birds’. He works at the Cuban National Museum of Natural History and has researched globally endangered Cuban bird species for the last 14 years. He has considerable experience as a tour leader throughout the whole of Cuba and has been guiding for the last 20 years with Sunbird, Birdwatching breaks, Birdfinder, Birdquest, Eagle-eyed Tours etc. Ave 17 # 7618, entre 76 y 78, Playa, La Habana, Cuba.
Cuba Beyond the Beaches Birding in Eastern Cuba takes you to two of the most prolific areas for birds in this part of the island. Our daily outings take you to varied habitat ensuring that you have the chance to add to your life list, see birds which are new to you, or visit with summer friends. Our knowledgeable ornithologist will add to your understanding of the birds of this part of the island…
Rockjumper Birding Tours
What with 28 endemics and a further 23 Caribbean specials, Cuba is an essential addition to any serious twitcher’s agenda, and our comprehensive tour targets every one of these species. With the relaxation of travel restrictions, this fantastic destination will soon be open to everyone.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [07 July] - Ian Hughes - You’re never very far from a Turkey Vulture
…My wife and son are not quite as enthusiastic about birds as myself but we were all pleased to find the layout of our hotel complex was spread around a highly vegetated area sloping down to the sea. By tea time I had already sorted out Red Legged Thrushes, Grey Kingbirds, Northern Mocking Birds and numerous Grackles when I was excited to see a “nightjarry” bird flying over our room. It turned out to be an Antillean Nighthawk which I was to see several more times during our stay…
2010 [02 February] - Mark Easterbrook
My wife and I travelled to Cuba with Boletas birdwatching holidays run by Josele J Sais of Spain. The group members had made their way to Cuba independently via a number of routes and finally met up on the morning of the 2nd Feb to start birding. Some members of the group had already had the chance to familiarise themselves with some of the commoner birds on the previous day and Richard added a Ring-billed Gull; a species that was subsequently not seen again…
2010 [07 July] - Ian Mills & Michael Baker
A brief report of a family holiday at Havana and Hotel Melia Las Antilles near Varadero with one full day’s birding with a guide at Zapata and early mornings round the hotel…
2011 [03 March] - Bob Biggs
…We found some of the birding to be hard work. We missed a few of the endemics but that is to be expected. There was little migration. I thought there would have been more. I presume we were too early. Cuba was something of an “eye opener”, with living conditions much worse than I had expected in some parts of the country. The people seem to make the most of a fairly poor existance. Other than in Havana, we received very little hassle…
2012 [08 August] - Diederik van der Molen
…We flew from Amsterdam to Varadero International Airport. It’s a 1 hour and 75 CUC drive by taxi to Havana. First bird was ‘our’ House sparrow and most numerous were Turkey Vultures – because of them I probably missed several hawks because I didn’t look up anymore. Cuban swallow and Antillean palm-swift were seen from the apartment and Magnificent frigatebird and Brown pelican over the sea…
2013 [02 February] - Paul Davis
…I had a couple of hours of daylight to kill, so went for a quick stroll. I had close encounters with Cuban Blackbirds, a Greater Antillean Grackle, a Cuban Vireo and several Northern Mockingbirds. The next morning I got up at dawn and wondered down to the bridge that crosses the lagoon. The lagoon appears to be tidal, so at times was just mud, which smelt a bit unsavoury, but attracted a lot of birds…
2013 [03 March] - Chris Kehoe
…We recorded 170 species including all 26 of the practically accessible Cuban endemics including superb views of such stars as Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Grassquit, Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail-dove, Fernandina's Flicker, Cuban Nightjar, Cuban Black Hawk, Zapata Sparrow (of two subspecies), Oriente and Yellow- headed Warblers, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Pygmy Owl and Giant Kingbird…
2013 [04 April] - Mark Graham
The main birds which are in vast numbers are the herons, egrets and waders. There are always some Turkey Vultures hovering around and Common Black Hawk were seen very regulary. The three main Warblers were Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler and Palm Warbler. All are easy to see amongst the vegetation. Cuban Emerald are everywhere. The Grackles are never far away and seldom stop calling out. There were 42 species in the hotel alone and I managed 31 lifers. This wasn't bad considering I've been to the Carribean and North America before…
2013 [12 December] - Petri Hottola
…here is good habitat for Cuban Grassquits right there, but I failed to see any, despite checking the site three times…
2014 [02 February] - Chris Lotz
…we enjoyed our first Antillean Palm Swift and Cuban Emerald hummingbird, both of them up close and personal (the former were flying around their roosts in the thatch above the lunch table, and the latter were all around the hedge in front of us as we enjoyed beers during our lunch-time “siesta”). After our lunch-time break, we checked our Cuban Grassquit spot, finding Gundlach’s Hawk nice and early in the trip – this is one of the toughest Cuban endemics to find and usually needs loads of time and effort (plus a large dose of luck) – finding the bird on the first day of the tour bought us time!…
2014 [03 March] - Erwin Collaerts
...Early morning, we were at the Mirador Trail again to search for quail-doves. The only quaildove species that we found was a Ruddy Quail-dove. A second Yellow-throated Vireo and a couple of Indigo Buntings were the best birds that we added to our list on this morning....
2014 [03 March] - Rob Gordijn & Helen Rijkes
…The site for Zapata wren en Zapata Sparrow. Key-West Quaildove (heard) and Grey-headed Quaildove (seen) occurs in the forest along the acces road and this road is a reliable site for nightjars. On our morning visit it had rained which was probably bad for activity, on our return visit we heard a Cuban Nightjar reasonable soon after dusk, but would not come into tape. The Gundlach’s Hawk nest had been in this areas as well, but had been cut down, appearantly the birds had left the site as well….
2014 [04 April] - David Ascanio
...Continuing with our birding-adapted itinerary, we made a long drive to Soroa, in the west part of the island. In Viñales, the presence of mogotes (rounded hills) provided a different landscape and offered an opportunity to search for the last endemic bird of the tour: the Cuban Solitaire. It didn´t take too long before we were enjoying a male singing loud and clear from an exposed branch near the entrance of a cave. This area also provided what everyone agreed upon as the best lunch for the trip: the ecological lunch at the Finca Ecológica....
2014 [04 April] - Mark Graham
…A Least Bittern was reported one day. Other birds seen around the lagoon were the inevitable Turkey Vulture, White-winged Dove and Mourning Dove. The nearby population of Cuban Martins would often fly over but only in the morning. I recommend a scope for this area as it is a fair sized lagoon…
2014 [10 October] - Iván Mota & Ana Cordero – La Cúa Birding
...Leaving Havana, we made a quick but mandatory stop at Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square) for a taste of Cuban history; afterwards we drove though flats and open fields on our way to Soroa. A roadside stop for coffee offered us some views ofCuba’s most common species such as the Cuban Blackbird, Northern Mockingbird, American kestrel, Loggerhead Kingbird, Yellow-faced Grassquit and Turkey Vulture...
2015 [03 March] - David Ascanio
A wait-time in Topes del Collante for checking-in allowed views of three new endemic birds: Cuban Trogon (national bird of the country), Black-cowled (Cuban) Oriole (now seen by everyone on the tour), and Cuban Parrot.
2015 [03 March] - Jim Frost - Cayo Coco
he tourist bus (5 CUC return) goes to the Melia Cayo Coco which has a lagoon with Cuban Martin and West Indian Whistling Duck and White-winged Dove in its grounds. In the other direction, the lagoons after the causeway to Cayo Guillermo hold the whistling duck, flamingo, spoonbill, ibises and a good range of waders.
2015 [04 April] - David Ascanio
Our second Cuba tour of 2015 began with shocking views of Zapata Sparrow, as well as Cuban Tody, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Cuban Vireo, Cuban Martin, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Emerald, Oriente Warbler, and Cuban Blackbird. What a cocktail of Cuban endemics to start the tour!
2015 [04 April] - Hans Matheve
Bare-legged Owl (1 bird seen at 22.287451, -81.137547, another was distantly heard at night in the same area), Antillean Nighthawk (5+ birds heard and seen near Soplillar), Bee Hummingbird (a few birds seen on 2 occasions in a private garden at Palpite, see above), Blue-heaed Quail-Dove (eventually 1 bird heard and taped in the forest near Soplillar at 22.28434, -81.136271), Cuban Black Hawk (a few birds seen near the coast), Cuban Crow (most evenings encountered in Playa Larga, very vocal!), Cuban Parrot (groups seen near Hotel Playa Larga and near Palpite), Cuban Pygmy-Owl (on a few occasions heard and seen), Fernandina's Flicker (1 bird seen near Soplillar), Gray-fronted Quail-Dove (good numbers seen in the forest near Soplillar), (Cuban) Greater Antillean Nightjar (1 bird seen and 1 more heard near Soplillar), Key West Quail-Dove (1 bird encountered in Soplillar), (Cuban) Northern Flicker (1 bird sen near Soplillar), Red-shouldered Blackbird (at least 5 birds encountered in La Turba), Yellow-headed Warbler (a few birds encountered in the entire region), Zapata Sparrow (3 birds seen in La Turba at 22.413195, -81.186551), Zapata Wren (1 bird seen in La Turba at 22.435989, -81.177323).
2016 [02 February] - Brian Gibbons
On our first morning Odey had us quietly walking the dark forest of Cayo Coco, sneaking up to a drip to try to see the Key West Quail-Dove. The dove was there, and we all enjoyed great looks as it walked along a shady trail. Only now we can enjoy the Cuban Tody, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, and Red-legged Thrushes we walked past to spy on the quail-dove...
2016 [02 February] - Pete Aley
This report outlines a two week birding trip which I undertook with my wife, Alison Rowntree, in Cuba. We wanted to combine our birding with some relaxation and a bit of time in Havana, so we did not attempt to try and see every endemic. However, we spent plenty of time at Zapata - Cuba's top birding site, several hours’ south east of Havana. We also did a lot of birding around Cayo Coco, off the central north coast, where a number of endemics and some other good birds can be found.
2016 [03 March] - Chris Kehoe
...On two mornings we had all four of Cuba’s Quail Doves on view simultaneously with Key West, Grey-fronted and the simply stunning Blue-headed all feeding in the open just a few metres away. Gorgeous Cuban Todys and Cuban Trogons were positively common in some wooded areas while the sometimes elusive Zapata Wren was easily seen this year and the often tricky Gundlach’s Hawk was seen unusually well...
2016 [03 March] - David Ascanio
...Continuing south we headed to the Zapata Peninsula. Once there, the welcome parties were two Red-shouldered Blackbirds and a nesting Fernandina's Flicker. At the Zapata Peninsula we enjoyed views of the largest number of endemic bird species. One early morning allowed us to see the astonishingly beautiful Blue-headed QuailDove and the Key West Quail-Dove. Later in the same morning most of us enjoyed views of Gray-fronted Quail-Dove through the scope...
2016 [04 April] - Steve Baines
... I wanted to crack 2,000 this year. To do this I had to go birding somewhere that I’d not been before that would give me 18 lifers plus a nice holiday, within budget, for my non-birding, but ever tolerant, wife Claire. Cuba sounded ideal because if I could connect with most of the endemics that the island has to offer then I should easily reach my target. However, being fair to Claire, I couldn’t drag her around Cuba chasing birds, so we decided that an all inclusive beach holiday to Cayo Coco would suit us both...
2017 [02 February] - Chris Sharpe
...We were immediately assaulted by Cuban endemics: Cuban Trogon, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Tawny-shouldered Blackbird and Cuban Tody. However, we had to focus on our target birds, and went straight to a pig farm to look for Cuban Grassquit....
2017 [03 March] - Birding Ecotours
This was another fantastic Cuban birding tour with a wonderful group of participants. We found all the Cuban and regional endemics we were targeting, except for Gundlach’s Hawk, and we also saw a truly excellent number of North American migrants, such as a plethora of colorful wood warblers. The smallest bird in the world, Bee Hummingbird, numerous Cuban Trogon and Cuban Tody sightings, and brilliant views of Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Grey-fronted Quail-Dove and Key West Quail-Dove were some of the many avian highlights.
2017 [03 March] - Forrest Rowland
...we stepped off the bus to our first of many Cuban Trogons, Cuban Green Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Kingbird, LaSagre’s Flycatchers, Red-legged Honeycreepers, and Greater Antillean Grackles...
2017 [03 March] - Remco Hofland
...Early morning we walked though the old centre of Trinidad. We found sev breeding Cave Swallows, as well as Cuban Martins perched on a construction crane. While James spent the rest of the morning wandering around town Vincent and I went out birding in Parque El Cubano just northwest of town. We saw our first Cuban Pygmy-Owl here, along with a good selection of other Cuban birds...
2017 [04 April] - Daniele Mitchell
A comprehensive introduction to Cuban birds can be done in just seven days covering four sites: The western foothills near San Diego de Los Banos, the northern cays around Cayo Coco, the eastern savannahs near La Belen and finally the swamps and forests of Zapata.
2017 [04 April] - David Ascanio
The tour started in the famed Rancho La Belén, an active cattle ranch where a population of the little-known Giant Kingbird remains. As we enjoyed a picnic breakfast we perceived the cacophony given by the voices of Cuban Palm Crow, Cuban Crow, Cuban Parrots and Cuban Parakeets. There were also Greater Antillean Grackle, Cuban Blackbird, a Cuban Green Woodpecker and the widespread West Indian Woodpecker.
2017 [12 December] - Christopher J Sharpe
...After a short rest, our afternoon visit to Soplillar began with a stroll between flooded fields, where we had lovely views of three Fernandina's Flickers, another Northern Flicker (atop a utility pole) and a further four Great Lizard Cuckoos. Cuban Parrots and Parakeets showed extremely well, both flying over and perched up obligingly in the saturated colours produced by the low sun. A distant Northern Jacana was spotted across the wet pastureland...
2018 [01 January] - Dodie Logue
2018 [02 February] - David Ascanio
...A full hour and a half gave us several photo opportunities including views of a male Blue-headed Quail-Dove displaying. Later, a short drive took us to La Cuchilla where we saw four Red-shouldered Blackbirds perched and two other individuals in flight....
2018 [02 February] - Yeray Seminario
On our second tour to Cuba we were fortunate to have a fantastic group of people join us, which helped create a very easy-going, friendly atmosphere. On this trip, thanks to a recent collaboration with prominent artist and ornithologist Nils Navarro, we counted with his presence during the whole trip, as part of his preparation for his next book covering all the birds of Cuba...
2018 [03 March] - Bob Behrstock
Our permits to visit Cuba were predicated upon us censusing birds and sharing the data with the scientific community, deemed a type of humanitarian project by the U.S. government. This is happening — largely through eBird, which has the power to instantly reach biologists (and birders) throughout the Americas...
2018 [03 March] - Byron Palacios
In the afternoon, we drove back to Hacienda Cortina where we took a good birding walk around its gorgeous grounds and gardens, finding very interesting birds such as West Indian Woodpecker, Red-legged Thrush, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Purple and Common Gallinules, Palm Warbler, and had great views of the endemic Cuban Emerald, literally everywhere. At the end of the afternoon, a flowering tree (Malvasia spp.) was a great source of food for many birds such as Red-legged Honeycreeper, Cuban Orioles, Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, Cuban Emerald and Cuban Blackbirds, amongst others.
2018 [03 March] - Woody Wheeler
Customs went relatively smoothly and we soon met Gustavo, a friendly engaging man who was our main guide for the Cuban journey - Mostly an Annotated list
2018 [04 April] - Chris Kehoe
All of the regularly encountered endemics were found, most of which were common and widespread, with the exception of the rare and increasingly elusive Gundlach’s Hawk. Particular highlights included outstanding views of Zapata Wren, numerous Cuban Todys and Cuban Trogons, easy Cuban Grassquits at a new site, and fabulous Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail Doves. Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird, is always a top target and we had marvellous views of multiple birds at two sites in the legendary Zapata National Park.
2019 [01 January] - Dodie Logue
We had very good luck with endemics, seeing Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Trogon and Cuban Tody. We also saw some West Indian endemics, such as Palm Crow, Plain Pigeon, Giant Kingbird and a wonderfully active Great lizard-Cuckoo. We spent the morning walking on park roads of the area, surrounded by mature trees and Mango Orchards. There were numerous migrant warblers in the trees, including Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, and Yellow-throated. We were hot and tired when we loaded up the bus to head back around noon.
Places to Stay
The alternative to staying in hotels is private guest houses or casa particulares…
Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca Resort - Holguin Province
Only a few meters from one of the most beautiful beaches of fine and white sand to the eastern part of the island, stands Club Amigo Atlantico - Guardalavaca Complex surrounded by impressive cliffs and exotic vegetation…
Hotel Playa Giron - Zapata
The 3 stars Hotel Cubanacan Playa Giron has 282 rooms and 197 houses with air conditioning, private bathroom, satellite TV and telephone...
National Museum of Natural History of Cuba
It contains unique pieces, such as fish preserved personally by Poey in the first half of the 19th century, the smallest bird in the world, a stuffed specimen of an extinct species of pigeon, and 18 endemic Cuban birds that are part of the country's largest collection.
Notes, pictures, etc…
Birdwatching in Western Cuba
Travelling through National Parks, Wildlife Refuge`s and the famous Sierra del Rosario Biosphere brings the experienced birdwatcher in touch with bird species of all types…
Cuba - A Safe Haven for Birds
The Cuban fauna is very diverse, with more than 350 species of birds on the islands and keys that make up the Cuban archipelago, where there exists a large degree of endemism among marine and forest birds…
Photographers & Artists
Aves de Cuba
Fotografias de Aves - Bird Photographs from Cuba
Photographer - Dan McIntosh
Excellent gallery of shots taken in Cuba…
Photographer - David Cahlander
Mixed quality gallery
Photographer - Ernesto Reyes
If you are a nature and bird enthusiastic, and that taking photographs in our warm and enchanting Cuba sounds like an exciting experience to you, then you have come to the right place…
Photographer - Tyler Hicks
All pictures were taken on the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay…