Tampa Audubon Society’s Cuba Bird Survey

Includes Cuba’s Western Mountains, Zapata Peninsula, and Havana
January 14-20/21, 2017


The TAMPA AUDUBON SOCIETY (TAS) in collaboration with Caribbean Conservation Trust (CCT) is promoting an exclusive, U.S. led and managed birding program to Cuba! The program is coordinated under U.S. government authorization by Connecticut based CCT. In early 2016 CCT staff began their 20th year of managing bird conservation and natural history programs in Cuba. Along with TAS President and past Field Trips Chair Mary Keith, 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 3 different birding areas. They will guide you through some of the best birding habitat in Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest and 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 in the forests surrounding Las Terrazas Community, established in 1968 as a re-forestation 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. (2 nights)
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).
Our program concludes in HAVANA, among the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas. Depending on our arrival time on Day 1, we may visit the home and private ornithological collection of Orlando Garrido, Cuba’s most prolific living naturalist and senior author of the Field Guide To the Birds of Cuba. Upon our return to Havana at the end of the birding program, you will have an opportunity to enjoy two evenings in Havana, one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities. Our full day in the city will include all meals, a guided city tour, a spin in 1950s American cars, 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.