Secrets to Birdwatching in Cuba
Cuba has truly stunning nature reserves, nearly 12% of the island is protected by UNESCO as they recognised its importance. Some of the wetland areas also have international ecological relevance, as such they have been recognised as a Ramsar site. These unique and beautiful areas give the perfect hiding spot for the brilliant birds of Cuba.
Best sites for birdwatching
There are several places you can go. In Western Cuba there’s Vinales, Las Terrazas, San Diego de los Banos, La Guira, Soroa where you can see the Cuban Solitaire, and the Cuban Grassquit, predominantly.
Whilst Zapata Peninsula, which is an exotic area of nearly 5000 square kilometres of untouched wetlends, thus having several sites to spot amazing birdlife, like Playa Larga, Bremejas, Palpite, La Turba, Las Salinas and Hatiguanico.
We especially like Western Cuba and Zapata Peninsula as they have a large concentration of both endemic and migratory birds to spot. Which is why we chose these to show case in our Birds of Cuba Tour.
At the Cayos, being the areas of Cayo Coco, Cayo Paredon Grande and Cayo Guillermo, you’ll find the Cuban Sparrow, the Cuban Gnatcatcher, the Thick-billed Vireo, and the Bahama mockingbird.
If you keep venturing East to Sierra de Najasa, Sierra de Cubitas, or Rio Maximo in Camaguey, you can admire the Cuban Parakeet, the Giant Kingbird, the Palm Crow, the Plain Pigeon and the largest nesting ground of Flamingos, which is spectacular.
And if you make your way to the most Eastern part of the island, you must visit the Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt to try to find the Cuban Kite. Whilst you here, you may as well take your time and truly discover the natural wonders in the area!
Best time for a birdwatching tour
Let’s face it there are always amazing birds around. Weather wise January to April is absolutely beautiful. If you also wish to see most of the migratory birds, October and November are fantastic months, mind you these months are still quite wet. Just like different seasons will have different birds, different time of the day also has different birds. So it is well worth going with a guide who knows the places and best times to visit to capture sight of more birds. As it is one of our passions to take time out to reconnect with nature, we have created Simply Birds of Cuba, birdwatching tour, running between October and April taking you to the spots where you can discover most of these beauties. Head over to our Tour page to learn more about this enchanting tour.
What to wear and bring
Because you will be venturing out into untouched landscapes, that have lots of water – thus mosquitoes – it is best to wear lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants to keep you from mozzy bites. Also make sure you wear a hat, and waterproof boots, especially in the wetter months. Color wise green/grey/tan are the best to help you blend into the surroundings.
We also recommend to bring a guidebook, our go to is the Endemic Birds of Cuba by Nils Navarro. Definitely bring your binoculars, note book, waterproof pen, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen. And whilst it is not an essential equipment, it is nice to have a camera handy for capturing a moment with these wonderful creatures.
Definitely no birdcalls. We do not want to create any stress for the birds, so we ask you to refrain from the use of these.
Few Guidelines for birdwatching
We keep our birdwatching groups small, and there is a reason for that. We want to ensure that we protect the welfare of the birds and their habitats.
We will ask you not to go too close to the birds’ territory, definitely be extra cautious with nests. To ensure this happens and to not disturb the birds, we ask that you walk slowly and cautiously. Keep your voice down – it is best to observe in silence. No flash or shiny objects are to be used on a birdwatching tour as this can disturb the birds. The birds’ welfare is our highest priority.
If we see anything rare we will report them to the relevant authorities.
Things like no littering, trampling on vegetation or breaking branches go without saying.
Sticking to the rules means we can keep birds protected and enjoyed by others in the future.
When you join us on a birdwatching tour you will have an expert guide on hand in Yoanis who can find and point out all the wonderful species of Cuba for you to admire and may be even capture through your lens, or you can take one of his prints home with you as a keepsake of a great memory.