Cuban Birds: A photo tour of Cuba’s Birdlife
Have you ever wanted to explore Cuba?
It’s hard to imagine a country with more biodiversity than Cuba. The island is ornithologically richest in the region, providing unique and amazing birdlife to photograph. The Cuban endemic bird species are some of the most beautiful and unique animals in the world, with so many of them being highly photogenic!
The best way to ensure that you can capture them on camera is to join a small group tour, specific to birdwatching and photography tours in Cuba. A local nature tour guide, as they know their area intimately and will know where to find the birds, which ones are nesting when and ensure that they are not disturbed, whilst you still get an amazing photo opportunity.
Have an expert photographer on hand who can provide you tips on positioning yourself, your camera settings and even editing options once you captured ‘the shot’ through your lens. These are just some of the main ingredients of a photo tour.
You also must consider the timing of your bird photography trip to Cuba. Whilst you can take a trip all year round, there are a few things to consider. The Wet season starts in April, which means it is very hot, humid and often raining. Also, the highest numbers of birds are seen from November through to April, due to winter migration periods. During this time, you get to admire the endemics and our visiting birds.
You must explore some of the most interesting and beautiful birds in Cuba as well as their habitat on the island.
So, what birds can you expect to see?
The Cuban Tody is an endemic (the cutest if you ask me). It’s tiny, no bigger than two inches long, with an abnormally big head, long bill and short tail creating its unique look. There are no others like this one! It usually hunts from low-to-middle level branches and is a stealth ‘killer’ as it sits still before leaping upwards to snatch prey. We can find this beauty in Soroa, Las Terrazas and the Zapata Peninsula.
The Cuban Parakeet is an endemic, only occurring on mainland Cuba. Unfortunately, its population drastically decreased due to the destruction of its habitats and them being captured as pets. You can still find them on the Zapata Peninsula, the mountains of Trinidad, Najasa, Cienaga de Biarma, and La Melba. They like their secondary forests and savannahs with palms, close to marshes. Best seen at the end of March and April.
The Cuban Trogon is another endemic to Cuba that you will see on your Photography tour. This one was shying away from my camera. However, imagine the full colors of it: green underneath those wings, blue crown, red belly and beak with white throat and chest, making it look a little like the Cuban flag, which is why it was named Cuba’s National Bird. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In contrast to trogons, it has a long fluffy tail making him rather unique. They are relatively graceless when it comes to flying which makes them a noisy flyer who prefers short distances. They are also well known for being an active singer. Their Spanish name – Tocororo comes from their repeated call. Its natural habitats are forests, so we will likely see them in Soroa and on the Zapata Peninsula.
These are some of the brightest endemics, with 26 species on the island, there are lots more unique species to see. There are over 377 bird species that are endemics, residents or transient in Cuba. Plenty of beautiful creatures to capture through your lens.
Like the majestic American Pink Flamingo. Cuba has some 70,000 nesting flamingos and countless chicks, the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere. There’ll certainly be a chance to capture a great picture or two of these beauties.
Then there are the miraculous species of Hummingbird – the Cuban Emerald. They are common around the island and often tame around humans. The pretty green ones are the boys. They have an almost entirely metallic or iridescent green colour, with a bluish tinge to the chest and a white spot behind the eye and a forked tail. They measure about 10cm fully grown. The ladies look different, with a grey throat, chest and belly with green flanks. In size, they are not that much smaller. I have a keen eye for spotting these beauties.
While we are talking about Hummingbirds, you will also get a chance to see the Bee Hummingbird in Cuba, which is the smallest bird in the world. Just like bees, these guys also defy the laws of flying. They come in amazing colours, which makes them look like flying jewels. They are tiny and tend to steal the limelight. Bee Hummingbirds are one of the main reasons why birdwatchers visit Cuba!
Do you want to learn more about these birds? We share the information on our tour page, you can get our Birding Guide full of information through there!