Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm baaaack!

Hi Everyone,

I'm now back from CUBA! After just over 3 weeks of birding in the south I arrived back to Ottawa to -20c conditions from a nice +28c in Havana! Both tours went very well and we were able to locate most of the Cuban Endemics and near endemics.

On the first tour Feb.7-17 we recorded 155 species and on the second tour Feb.19-Mar.1, 164 species. All endemics were recorded with the exception of Zapata Rail and Cuban Kite.

The most difficult was the Bee Hummingbird which was recorded on the second trip. The Gundlach's Hawk was another species that was recorded on both tours but not seen by everyone. We had amazing views of Zapata Sparrow, Zapata Wren, Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Parakeet, Giant Kingbird, Blue-headed Quail-Dove and many more!

The Cuban Crab Hawk / Black Hawk was seen frequently on the tours.

Overall the weather was wonderful with
little if any rain and temperatures ranged from +22c to +30c.

We covered an area just west of Havana, La Guira National Park then down to the Zapata region which has the highest concentration of endemics, then eastward to the Sierra Najasa region and finally north to Cayo Coco. This route gave us the a chance at all the main Cuban endemics. Our last afternoon in Cuba was spent in the historic city of Havana.

photography, Cuba is an amazing country for its birds, historical scenery, and people!

Check out a few photos from these tours by clicking here!

Good birding,


Status & Target Bird Information

Target Birds - Cuba’s avifauna features a rich array of species endemic and near endemic to the island. It is also one of the better places to see a variety of birds confined to the larger Caribbean. In the region, as elsewhere, common names and species status are under constant revision. Currently, it appears that: The twenty-eight Cuban Endemics are Cuban Kite, Gundlach´s Hawk, Cuban Crab-Hawk (AOU 2007), Zapata Rail, Gray-fronted Quail-Dove (Clements 6th), Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Cuban (Greater Antillean) Nightjar (Clements 6th), Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Screech Owl, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina´s Flicker, Giant Kingbird, Cuban Martin, Zapata Wren, Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Cuban Palm Crow, Cuban Vireo, Yellow-headed Warbler, Oriente Warbler, Cuban Grassquit, Zapata Sparrow, Red-shouldered Blackbird and Cuban Blackbird. The Cuban forms of Northern Flicker, West Indian Woodpecker and Eastern Meadowlark may someday attain full species status. The eleven Cuban Near Endemics (birds present on Cuba and one or more of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Cayman Islands) are Cuban Parrot, Great Lizard-Cuckoo, Cuban Emerald, West Indian Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee, La Sagra´s Flycatcher, Cuban Crow, Thick-billed Vireo, Olive-capped Warbler, Western Spindalis and Cuban Bullfinch. The twelve Caribbean Endemics on Cuba are West Indian Whistling-Duck, Scaly-naped Pigeon, Plain Pigeon, Key West Quail-Dove, Antillean Nighthawk, Antillean Palm Swift, Loggerhead Kingbird, Bahama Mockingbird, Red-legged Thrush, Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, Greater Antillean Grackle and Greater Antillean Oriole. Visiting birders have a shot at almost all these species. The exceptions are Zapata Rail (which was not located on a major ornithological expedition into the Zapata Swamp in 2005) and Cuban Kite (found only in Humboldt National Park and the Cuchillas de Toa Biosphere Reserve on the northeast side of the island, well off the traditional birding path). Of the remaining birds, the toughest are probably Gundlach’s Hawk, Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Bee Hummingbird, Giant Kingbird and Zapata Wren.

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