The Thrill of the Thaw – Cuba, birds, and us.

Birders are excited about the opportunity to return to Cuba.  With over 370 species and 24 endemic species Cuba is top of the list for many birders.  Cuba is home to the world’s smallest Hummingbird, the Bee Hummingbird (about 2 inches long and weighing in at about .06 oz.). One of the last confirmed reports of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker comes from Cuba.

The following information is excerpted, with permission, from the Great Birding Projects newsletter.

“There isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t witness some changes in U.S.-Cuban relations. Indeed, in the last two weeks relating to Havana alone, we have seen the first high-end Miami-based cruise initiated, movie and TV filming, and even an elite fashion-design event (Channel). But there is a lot underway apart from Havana, and these are taking place in parts of Cuba where visitors can get a better understanding of the real Cuba. Increased U.S.-Cuban bird-connections through people-to-people and research-based bird activities have been underway and have actually been increasing. This is all very healthy.

Cuban Trogon

The Cuban Trogon is Cuba’s national bird. In Cuba it is known as the Tocororo or Tocoloro because of the call it makes. Image credit: Laura Gooch. CC BY 2.0

Not only have there been regular mutual visits between ornithologists and conservationists, there have been creative exchanges dealing with raptor and songbird monitoring, youth education, feeder-interest, and much-needed field-equipment transfer. In fact, the next BirdCaribbean meeting – to be held in the summer of 2017 – is scheduled to take place in Cuba, at Topes in the Sierra del Escambray. This could represent another real breakthrough in dialogue and cooperation.

Cuban Green Woodpecker

Cuban Green Woodpecker.
By Charlesjsharp (Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Cuba is instrumental for inter-American bird populations. Over 370 species of birds have been recorded on the island, including over two dozen species which are endemic to Cuba. Due to its large land area and geographical position within the Caribbean, Cuba is a real stand-out. More than 160 species will pass through the island during migration or spend the winter on the island.

If you are interested in a bird-study trip to Cuba later this year (3-15 November), a trip designed for 14 people and led by excellent leaders, check out an itinerary developed by the Caribbean Conservation Trust. (If you want more specific details, including hints on alternate trips, e-mail Paul Baicich.)

At the same time, the wonderful book by Nils Navarro, Endemic Birds of Cuba: A Comprehensive Field Guide, was published last year and is available through Ediciones Nuevos Mundos.

Great Birding Projects is a vehicle to promote a creative approach to bird-related editing, education, tourism, and marketing. GBP functions as a bridge to an innovative engagement between people and birds. You can access all previous issues of the GBP bulletin on the GBP website here.

Paul J. Baicich
Great Birding Projects,
P.O. Box 404
Oxon Hill, MD 20750

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