Fall 2016 Cuba Bird Survey

November 6 – 14, 2016: Cuba’s Wild Western Peninsula, Western Mountains, Zapata Swamp, and Colonial Havana.

November 15 – 17, 2016: optional “Birds of Cayo Coco” extension

The Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT) is promoting an exclusive, U.S. led and managed birding program to Cuba! The program is coordinated under U.S. government authorization by CCT, which is based in Connecticut. CCT staff have a 20 year history of managing bird conservation programs in Cuba. Along with CCT Ornithologist Michael Good, and Dr. Luis Diaz, Curator, National Museum of Natural History, Havana, our team includes a bilingual Cuban tour guide, and 3 additional regionally located Cuban naturalists. They will guide you through a variety of natural areas in Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest, most ecologically diverse island nation.

CCT designed this itinerary to take you to Cuba’s finest bird habitats, most beautiful national parks, diverse biosphere reserves, and unique natural areas. We will interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation. In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit. Finally, and especially given the ongoing changes in U.S. – Cuban relations, we can expect some degree of inquiry into fascinating aspects of Cuban culture, history, and daily living during our visit.


Where We Travel

Our Cuba Bird Survey begins and ends in Havana, with an evening in a comfortable hotel in a quiet residential part of the city. We return to Havana at the end of the birding program, spending an afternoon and evening as described below.

The Guanahacabibes Peninsula

The Guanahacabibes Peninsula

The Guanahacabibes Peninsula, located at the far western tip of the island, is one of the last remaining wild places in the Caribbean. A major migratory corridor, this peninsula lies parallel to the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico, and adjacent to the Palancar Reef, the largest contiguous coral reef in the northern hemisphere, second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef. The peninsula is also home to a number of important aboriginal archaeological sites. The peninsula was Cuba’s first significant protected area following the triumph of the revolution in 1959, and in 1987 declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Crow, Cuban Parrot, as well as numerous other birds are quite likely here (2 nights).

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

to 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 concludes in HAVANA, among the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas. At the end of the birding program, you will have an evening in Havana, one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities. Our last night in Havana will include all meals, a guided city tour, including a walking tour of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and the 4 original plazas, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, Old Havana is like a living museum, and is currently undergoing rapid, energetic change.