Birds of Cuba

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The largest Caribbean island offers a wide variety of diversions and places of interest for the traveler. The island nation offers the peace and tranquility of azure waters and sugar sand beaches. In the cities, the passionate pulse of Cuban society resonates off the buildings. After taking in the beaches, cities, and historical landmarks of the island, some visitors do not know what to do. A good activity to pass the time is to get interested in the diverse selection of birds that either call Cuba home or just pass through on their way southward

A Birdwatchers Paradise

There are records of the birds recorded throughout the Cuban archipelago, which is the main island, plus the more than 1,000 smaller islands surrounding it. There are a total of 368 recorded species on the island. Of these, 25 are endemic to Cuba. This specialized term refers to a species that is only found in a particular geographic area. Out of the total population, 17 are threatened on a global scale. Additionally, 8 species were introduced by humans and are not native to the island.

Habitats of Cuban Birds

Typically, birdwatchers get the chance to see more than 100 species of birds, including most of the endemic species. The Indiana Audubon Society recently took a trip down to Cuba to experience the birding opportunities up close. The habitats that they will be visiting include the Western Mountains, Northern Archipelago, Zapata Peninsula, and Eastern Endemic Ranges of Cuba. Visiting these places will ensure spotting many bird species Specific Birds of Interest

Cuban Bee Hummingbird

The Cuban Bee Hummingbird is a species of hummingbird that is endemic to the country, with a lenght of five centimetres it's the smallest bird in the world. The bird is found in forests and woodland and feeds on insects and nectar.
Hummingbird's nest in Varadero Cuba

The Cuban Parrot

There are several birds on the island, which have gained worldwide notoriety. For example, the Cuban Amazon, which is also known as the Cuban parrot, is heavily sought after. It is a medium sized parrot with mostly green plumage, featuring blue feathers on its wings and pink feathers on its chin, neck, and face. The rings around its eyes are white. The bird's length is around 30 centimeters. This bird lives in different habitats on each of the islands it finds a home upon. In the past, the Cuban Amazon used to live all around the country, but now it is confined to living in the forests on the main island and on the nearby Isla de la Juventud. On the main island of Cuba, there are approximately 10,000 Amazons. On the aforementioned Isla de la Juventud, there are around 1,200. The diet of this attractive bird consists of fruits, nuts, and seeds. From March to September, the Cuban Amazons breed, often making nests in the cavities of trees.

Cuban Amazon Parrots

The Cuban Red Macaw

This bird became extinct in the mid to late 1800s due to the massive influx of humans as part of the increased sugar and slave trade. Previously bountiful on the island, this bird was medium sized with a red forehead, an orange neck, and blue wings. It was a truly magnificent animal. The male and the female birds were identical in appearance. This macaw became extinct due to increased destruction of its forest habitat. The habitat was converted for use in farming sugarcane, tobacco, and coffee. This helped the Cuban economy grow but greatly hurt its natural environment. The last known macaw was shot in 1864 close to the Zapata Swamp. This same area was supposedly the site of future spotting of the bird, lasting up until the 1880s, when even these ceased to exist. The Zapata wetland area is well known for its highly preserved natural areas and is still the home to a wide variety of other bird species. Currently, the wetlands area boasts over 900 plant species, 175 bird species, 31 reptile species, and over 1,000 invertebrate species. Had this area been treated with the care that it does now; visitors still might be able to catch a glimpse of this Cuban macaw.

More Information:

In order to get a more complete idea of the ornithology of Cuba, a few websites, books, and organizations provide quality information. The Indiana Audubon Society will have updated information in the near future on its excursions to Cuba. BirdLife International provides excellent and current information about parrots and countless other species of birds. Rafael Sanchez compiled a great source for birds in Cuba in his Checklist of Birds. Additionally, Denis Lepage put together the Cuba Checklist as part of the Bird Checklists of the World book.

Related Article: More about wildlife in Cuba and and the animals

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