The conservation of Neotropical migrants — birds that breed in North America and winter in the tropics — has come into focus in recent years. Long-term population declines have been detected in many species, but their complex annual cycle makes determining causes and cures difficult. Clear understanding of the distribution, ecology, and status of these species is essential, yet there is a 44,000-square-mile gap in our knowledge — a hole the size and shape of our largest Caribbean neighbor, Cuba.

Julie Craves is supervisor of avian research at the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Dearborn, Michigan, and a contributing editor of BirdWatching magazine (formerly Birder’s World). She visited Cuba at the end of February 2002 on a trip licensed by the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of surveying birds. This article appeared in the December 2002 issue of Birder’s World.