Cuba: A Relaxed & Easy Tour Apr 03—13, 2018

Posted by David Ascanio


David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours throughout his native country, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, the Amazon River, ...

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Our Relaxed & Easy Cuba tour wasn’t much different from a regular tour, except that we enjoyed more rest time and saw birds in a very relaxed style. Upon arrival in Santa Clara, we nailed the common and widespread Antillean Palm-Swift, as well as the endemic Cuban Blackbird. This blackbird’s closest relatives are found in Mexico–Central America and the northern Pacific Coast of South America. Besides seeing some endemic and restricted range distribution birds, we noticed that most of the Boreal migrant warblers had left for their breeding grounds, although we still enjoyed a few species (some in breeding plumage!) such as Northern Parula, Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Palm Warbler.

Bare-legged Owl

Bare-legged Owl— Photo: David Ascanio


After Santa Clara we headed south, to the famous Zapata Peninsula and the Bay of Pigs. The Zapata National Park was declared in 1974 and is currently a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is the biggest and most important wetland in the Caribbean. Here, we visited various locations including dry forest, scrubby vegetation, coastal wetlands, and farmland. Among the most important birds, we enjoyed astounding views of the Bee Hummingbird, the world´s smallest bird, and the Red-shouldered Blackbird, one that has a restricted distribution and is threatened due to habitat loss. This area provided views of about 16 Cuban endemic birds. What a milestone!

In the Zapata Peninsula we also observed several other unique species, and two that stand among the endemic birds where one has uncertain affinity (Blue-headed Quail-Dove) and another with its scientific name (genus and specific name) given after a single person’s name, the Ferminia cerverai (after Fermín Cervera), or as we know it, the Zapata Wren. A visit to La Salina allowed us to add waterbirds to our checklist including American Flamingo, several species of egrets, and a few sandpipers and terns.

Read David’s full report in his Field Report.