Birdwatching Magazine’s Cuba Bird Survey with David Sibley
March 2 – 11/12, 2019
Havana, Cuba’s Western Mountains, Zapata Peninsula, Cayo Coco, Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago, Sancti Spiritus and the Escambray Valley.
You Are Invited
For the fifth time, BirdWatching magazine, in collaboration with the Caribbean Conservation Trust (CCT), is promoting a birding program to Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest and most ecologically diverse island nation. (Our four previous trips were huge successes. Here are summaries and trip lists of the first two: February 2016 and December 2016.)
The program is coordinated under U.S. government authorization by Connecticut-based CCT. In early 2018, CCT staff began their 23rd year of managing bird-conservation and natural-history programs in Cuba. Along with noted author and BirdWatching Contributing Editor David Allen Sibley, our team will include acclaimed Cuban scientist Dr. Luis Diaz, Curator, National Museum of Natural History in Havana, a bilingual Cuban tour leader, and local naturalists in three different birding regions.
Where We Will Travel
Las Terrazas Community
Our Cuba Bird Survey begins in the forests surrounding Las Terrazas Community, established in 1968 as a reforestation and community integrated development project. In Cuba’s post-revolutionary history, the community has blossomed as a model of sustainability, and is currently a prime destination for ecologically based tourism.
Cuba’s Western Mountains
Cuba’s Western Mountains include two of the country’s most diverse and dramatic ranges: the Sierra de la Rosario, and Sierra de los Organos. We will explore an area common to both ranges in search of western range endemic species such as the Cuban Solitaire. A highlight of the trip, we will visit the magical, unusually beautiful karstic landscape of mogotes– the towering, lushly vegetated, flat-top limestone monoliths that dominate the Organos Mountains. This is the only region in which we will likely see the Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Grassquit, Giant Kingbird, & Olive-capped Warbler. Other potential endemic species for western Cuba include Cuban Oriole, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Vireo, & Yellow–headed Warbler.
Zapata Peninsula - Bay of Pigs
We will also explore the diverse wetland region of the Zapata Peninsula, Cuba’s richest and most importantbirding destination located in the historic Bay of Pigs. This peninsula is a Ramsar Convention (international conservation treaty) designated site, and is among the most important wetlands in the West Indies. Here, the best local guides will lead us through protected areas in Cienaga de Zapata National Park and other natural sites off the beaten track. The Zapata Peninsula covers more than 2800 square miles and features easily accessible, everglades-like ecology and habitat.
Framed by the pristine Caribbean coastal environment of the Bay of Pigs, the peninsula features vast open swamp land, low coastal forests, sparkling white sand beaches, healthy and accessible coral reefs, and refreshing natural limestone pools called cenotes. Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Black Hawk, Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, Fernandina’s Flicker, Bare-legged Owl, Tawny- shouldered and Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail Doves, Red-shouldered Blackbird are among the many birds we will hope to find (3 nights).
Cayo Coco and Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago
Cayo Coco and Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago provide excellent birding opportunities on Cuba’s Atlantic coast. These previously uninhabited and relatively unexplored islands were connected to the mainland by an 18+ mile causeway completed in 1989. Cuba’s academy of sciences (CITMA) maintains a research facility here. These barrier islands and keys provide unique opportunities for: Cuban Gnatcatcher, Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, West Indian Whistling Duck, as well as numerous shorebirds and aquatic birds. This region also provides additional opportunities to see rare endemics such as Zapata Sparrow & Gundlach’s Hawk. Accommodations are in a modern beachfront resort (2 nights).
Our program begins in Havana and concludes in Camaguey, among the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas. Havana is one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities. Camaguey is a close second. Our time in each city will include all meals, accommodation, transportation, and a guided tour of each city’s more interesting elements. Visiting Colonial Cuba is like walking through a living museum. Currently, both cities are undergoing rapid, energetic change. Just east of Camaguey, we will visit a wildlife reserve in search of Palm Crow, Plain Pigeon, Cuban Parakeet, and Gundlach’s Hawk.
Registration, Trip Costs, Terms, and Conditions
Land costs for the ten-day program are $ 4,875.00 per person for shared accommodations. (Add $ 525.00 for a single room). The one-day HAVANA EXTENSION option is $ 285.00 per person sharing, with a $ 75 single supplement and includes all meals, guide services, ground transportation, and a guided exploration of Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most unique destinations in the Caribbean. Trip costs are based on 12 fully paying participants. A lower number of participants may result in a modest small group supplement.