Cuban whistling ducks and Cuban emerald hummingbirds


Northern mockingbird, Cuba, 12 March 2017

This photo shows a northern mockingbird which we saw on 12 March 2017 in Cuba.

On 12 March, after we had seen the frigatebirds and Zapata sparrow, we were still at Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo islands off Cuba.

There was also a western spindalis.

And an Oriente warbler.

A bit further, a Cuban black hawk.

And two white ibises.

West Indian whistling ducks

A group of West Indian whistling ducks, resting.

This is a West Indian whistling duck video.

Not far away, a three coloured heron. And a green heron.

Cuban emerald hummingbird, 12 March 2017

Then, we arrived at beautiful flowers. Which attracted beautiful Cuban emerald hummingbirds.

Cuban emerald hummingbird, on 12 March 2017

Cuban emerald hummingbird and palm warbler, 12 March 2017

There was a palm warbler as well.

Cuban emerald hummingbird and palm warbler, on 12 March 2017

Palm warbler, 12 March 2017

Stay tuned!

Cuban mockingbirds, Zapata sparrow and frigatebirds


This 2014 video is called Birds of Cayo Coco.

After 11 March 2017, on 12 March 2017 we were at Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo islands off Cuba.

At 8:51, a northern crested caracara flying.

A Zapata sparrow, a Cuban endemic species, in a bush. And a Cuban gnatcatcher, also endemic.

And an Oriente warbler, the third Cuba endemic species within a few minutes.

In the shallow sea, roseate spoonbills.

We arrive near the lighthouse.

Bahama mockingbird, 12 March 2017

Here is one of few places in Cuba where the Bahama mockingbird lives. See here on this species.

Mockingbird, 12 March 2017

We see one driving a northern mockingbird, a related, more common species in Cuba, away from the top of a bush.

Northern mockingbird, 12 March 2017

The northern mockingbird retreated to the top of a wall.

Northern mockingbird, on 12 March 2017

Greater Antillean grackles were present.

Magnificent frigatebirds, 12 March 2017

Offshore, magnificent frigatebirds flying.

Two American oystercatchers on the shore.

A double-crested cormorant.

Brown pelican, 12 March 2017

A brown pelican on a pole in the sea.

Laughing gull, 12 March 2017

A laughing gull on another pole.

We continued. So, stay tuned!

Cuban caracara and royal terns


Flowers, Camaguey, 11 March 2017

On 11 March 2017, the day after 10 March, we went to Cayo Coco island, from Camaguey in Cuba. In the morning in Camaguey, these flowers. And house sparrows.

8:27: a red-tailed hawk in a tree along the road.

9:25: great egret and cattle egrets.

Later, an eastern meadowlark.

Cattle egrets in a tree.

Greater Caribbean grackle.

A white-winged dove.

11:21: a little blue heron along the road.

11:41: a great lizard cuckoo crosses the road.

This is a great lizard cuckoo video. These birds live only on Cuba and a few other islands.

We are on the causeway to the small islands north of Cuba proper. Sandwich terns flying.

As we arrive on Cayo Coco, a northern mockingbird sings.

A common ground dove in a garden.

A northern flicker nest along the road.

Along the road to Cayo Romano island, Zenaida doves.

We arrive at a bridge linking Cayo Coco to Cayo Romano.

Tricoloured heron.

Cuban black hawk.

Caribbean flamingos.

A flock of royal terns resting.

This is a royal tern video.

A reddish egret.

A flock of 25 grey plovers.

Black-necked stilts.

A yellow-crowned night heron.

A magnificent frigatebird flying.

This is a magnificent frigatebird video from the Galapagos islands.

Cave swallows flying around. They have nests under the bridge.

This video says about itself:

26 January 2016

A Cave Swallow works on its nest in a cave in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. These birds are colonial and place their nests on a vertical wall, usually in the twilight zone of a cave or sinkhole. They make their flattened cup nests of mud pellets, sometimes with sides extending up and enclosing the bowl. Nests may be covered, with a small entrance tunnel on one side, and are lined with grass and plant fibers.

Video recorded by Eric Liner/Macaulay Library

A female red-breasted merganser swims.

As we go back, a northern crested caracara drinking from a puddle at a crossroads.

This December 2016 video shows a northern crested caracara drinking in the garden of Iberostar Daiquiri hotel, Cayo Coco.

After nearly two years of planning, a team of scientists from the US and Cuba has explored never-before-studied mesophotic coral reefs during a month-long circumnavigation of the entire coast of Cuba, spanning about 1,500 miles. Except for a few places along the coast, prior to this expedition, there were virtually no data or charts indicating what was beyond the shallow reef zone: here.

Cuban black-throated blue warblers and pygmy owl


Black-throated blue warbler, 10 March 2017

Still 10 March 2017, in a nature reserve not far from Camaguey city in Cuba. After seeing the ovenbird and other birds there, we saw this male black-throated blue warbler, on his way back to North America. Sometimes he was on the ground, sometimes on a fallen log.

Cuban peewee, 10 March 2017

A Cuban peewee.

The bus went back. 13:35: a great egret along the road.

We went to Belen nature reserve, like yesterday.

A palm crow.

Cuban pygmy owl, 10 March 2017

Then, a special bird: a Cuban pygmy owl. Though it was small and hiding on a big tree, we did see it.

An American kestrel on a palm tree top.

A Cuban trogon.

Two plain pigeon feathers on the footpath.

A giant kingbird.

Cuban parakeets flying.

West Indian woodpecker, on 10 March 2017

A West Indian woodpecker on a tree trunk …

West Indian woodpecker in Cuba, on 10 March 2017

and on a small branch.

Another woodpecker species: a yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Cuban trogons and ovenbird


Cuban parrot eating fruit, 10 March 2017

After 9 March 2017, on 10 March 2017, we were in the Camaguey region in Cuba. In a nature reserve we saw this Cuban parrot eating fruit.

Also: Cuban blackbird. Two red-legged thrushes.

A Cuban tody.

West Indian woodpecker, 10 March 2017

A West Indian woodpecker hanging upside down under a branch.

Cuban oriole, 10 March 2017

A Cuban oriole.

A loggerhead kingbird.

Cuban trogon, 10 March 2017

A bit further, a Cuban trogon

Cuban trogons, 10 March 2017

… two Cuban trogons!

After these endemic Cuban birds, several migrant species, on their way to North America, turned out to be present.

Ovenbird, 10 March 2017

One of them was the ovenbird.

Ovenbird, 10 March 2017

They were good at climbing rocky slopes.

Stay tuned, as there will be more Cuban birds on this blog!

Cuban green woodpecker and tody


Pupils in Santa Clara, 9 March 2017

After arriving in Santa Clara city in Cuba on 8 March 2017, we woke up on 9 March. The pupils had woken up as well, and walked to their schools.

Flower shop, 9 March 2017

The flower shop people had woken up was well. And the house sparrows.

We continued to the Che Guevara mausoleum. In December 1958, the dictator of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, had sent an armoured train full of weapons, ammunition and soldiers east to destroy Fidel Castro’s rebel army. However, Che managed to stop the train with a tractor of the local school of Agronomy. The Batista officers asked for a truce; the private soldiers fraternized with the rebels, saying that they were tired of fighting against their own people. Che’s troops captured the armoured train. This was such a blow to Batista that within 12 hours he fled Cuba to fellow dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, taking much of the treasury of the Cuban government with him: worth a billion (1 January 1959, pre-inflation) United States dollars. Batista then moved to another dictatorial country: Portugal. Finally, he died in 1973 in Spain, two years before Francisco Franco, the dictator of that country.

Decades after Che was murdered in Bolivia on the orders of the CIA, his remains were brought to Santa Clara, to be buried in the mausoleum along with fellow fighters of the 1958 decisive battle.

Che Guevara mausoleum, 9 March 2017

At 9:36, our bus crosses the Rio Manacas river.

Turkey vultures. Cattle egrets.

10:20: an osprey flies above a river.

Chickens, 9 March 2017

We lunch at a restaurant, where we see these chickens.

At 13:35, we cross the border of Camaguey province.

At 15:46, we approach the national park, and see a Cuban crow.

At 15:58, we see a palm crow.

Common ground dove, 9 March 2017

As we walk, a common ground dove.

Cuban parrot, 9 March 2017

Two noisy Cuban parrots feeding on fruit.

A palm warbler.

Cuban tody, 9 March 2017

A Cuban tody with food in its bill.

Smooth-billed anis, 9 March 2017

Two smooth-billed anis.

A female black-and white warbler.

A limpkin.

Plain pigeon, 9 March 2017

Then, a plain pigeon on a tree.

Cuban green woodpecker, 9 March 2017

And a Cuban green woodpecker and a West Indian woodpecker together on another tree.

A giant kingbird.

A Cuban parakeet.

Stay tuned for more Cuban birds on this blog!

Cuban kestrels and blackbirds


This video is called Birding in the San Diego, Cuba area. Delaware Nature Society Bird Survey Trip, 2010.

After 7 March 2017, on 8 March 2017, we went from Viñales to Santa Clara in Cuba.

As we woke up, four Cuban martins sitting on a TV antenna.

After our journey began, an eastern meadowlark, a North American migrant bird, on a meadow.

Two American kestrels drove a much bigger turkey vulture away.

A cattle egret. A peregrine falcon flying.

We went to the La Güira National Park, near San Diego.

La Güira National Park, 8 March 2017

At the entrance, trees with orange flowers, attracting several blackish bird species.

Tawny-shouldered blackbird, 8 March 2017

Greater Antillean grackles; tawny-shouldered blackbirds (see photos); and shiny cowbirds.

Tawny-shouldered blackbirds, 8 March 2017

We continue to the Cuevas de los Portales; caves near a river valley. A Cuban solitaire sings. In 1962, Che Guevara lived in these caves. The Cuban government feared that after the 1961 Playa Giron invasion, there would come another United States military incursion: not this time of a relatively small force of CIA mercenaries as in 1961, but of ten thousands of regular United States soldiers in that Cuban missile crisis year. If that would happen, Che intended to wage guerilla against the invasion forces from the Cuevas de los Portales.

Two great lizard cuckoos in a tree.

Cuban trogon, 8 March 2017

In another tree, the Cuban national bird: a Cuban trogon.

A Cuban emerald hummingbird.

At 14:40 we leave Pinar del Rio province for Artemisa province to its east.

Cattle egrets near cattle.

At 15:46, the lake where we had also been on the first day. Brown pelicans. Great egrets.

16:23: we are in Havana province; then, Mayabeque province. 17:30: Matanzas province.

Finally, we arrive in Santa Clara city.

Cuban parrots, cigars, and anhinga


Cuban parrot, 6 March 2017

Our earlier blog post mentioned our arrival in Viñales town. There, still on 6 March 2017, we saw this Cuban parrot. A pet, not a wild bird. This species lives only in Cuba, the Bahamas and Cayman islands. The pet trade did much damage to Cuban parrots; but recently, conservation measures seem to work and the numbers of wild parrots are increasing again.

Cuban martins, endemic to Cuba, flying around. A northern mockingbird on a wire.

The next day, 7 March, we went up a mountain trail in Viñales National Park. 7 March 2017 was our second full day in Cuba. And our second day in the Viñales region.

We heard a Cuban solitaire sing.

This is a video of a Cuban solitaire singing.

A Cuban trogon in a tree. Like the solitaire, an endemic species.

A termite nest.

This video is called A singing male Cuban Bullfinch (Melopyrrha nigra) at Cayo Coco, Cuba, on 13 April 2013.

This species lives around Viñales as well. We saw it this 7 March near the mountain trail.

Then, a yellow-headed warbler. And a white-crowned pigeon.

And a western spindalis, aka stripe-headed tanager.

Then, we continued to Pinar del Rio city. To a building which in the 1950s used to be a torture prison of dictator Batista. After the 1959 revolution, all political prisoners were freed. The building became a cigar factory which it still is today. It is open to the public.

Pinar del Rio cigar factory, 7 March 2017

In the factory hangs a poster of the late President Fidel Castro smoking a cigar. As he did. Later, he stopped smoking, as tobacco is not healthy, even though Cuban cigars do not cause as much damage as cigarettes.

Fidel Castro on why he stopped smoking: here.

Fidel Castro quote, 7 March 2017

In the factory courtyard, a quote by Fidel Castro.

Cuban cigars have the reputation of being the best in the world. We saw the workers make them by hand from three parts: filler, binder, and wrapper. 60% of this skilled work is done by women. At the factory entrance, a sign wished women well for International Women’s Day which would come next day, on 8 March.

House sparrows on the building.

In the afternoon, we went from the place where tobacco leaves turn into cigars to a place where tobacco leaves have their earlier stages.

First, we arrived at a lake. Smooth-billed anis. Great egret. Snowy egret. A little blue heron. And a belted kingfisher flying. And seven muscovy ducks: farm birds, not wild birds.

Tobacco growing, 7 March 2017

Then, we arrived at a tobacco farm. Like elsewhere in Pinar del Rio province, much tobacco grew there.

Tobacco leaves, 7 March 2017

Under palm leaf roofs, harvested tobacco leaves fermented.

Tobacco leaves, on 7 March 2017

We were in La Jutia valley, named after the endemic mammal, the Cuban hutia.

Cuba, 7 March 2017

A palm warbler on a wire near the farm.

As we walked on, mourning doves. A Cuban peewee.

We arrived at a lake. An artificial lake, made for firefighters to have water against wildfires. It attracted birds: brown pelicans. A little blue heron. An anhinga flying.

As we walked back, a female red-legged honeycreeper; and a northern parula.

Stay tuned for more on Cuban birds!

Cuban green heron and gallinule


Northern waterthrush, 6 March 2017

Still, after our earlier blog post about that day, 6 March 2017 at Las Terrazas nature reserve in Cuba. We went to a stream; where we saw this northern waterthrush; a North American species wintering here.

Rowing boats, 6 March 2017

We continued to a lake; rowing boats there.

Common gallinule, 6 March 2017

And this common gallinule.

A red-tailed hawk flying.

An Antillean palm swift flying over the water. This species lives only in Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica.

Green heron, 6 March 2017

Near the bank, in shallow water, a green heron looks for food.

Green heron, Cuba, 6 March 2017

I remember this species from Costa Rica.

A double-crested cormorant swims.

A spotted sandpiper on the bank.

The bus continues to Viñales.

Along the motorway, another lake. Cuban black hawk (an endemic species), snail kite and little blue heron are present.

So are brown pelicans.

Farm buildings, 6 March 2017

We pass colourful farm buildings.

Farm buildings, on 6 March 2017

Palm leaf roof buildings are especially for processing tobacco for the famous Cuban cigars.

Mountains, 6 March 2017

We pass mountains, with typically west Cuban shapes.

Shop, 6 March 2017

At a viewpoint, a small shop with, eg, Che Guevara t-shirts.

We arrived in Viñales. Stay tuned!

This video says about itself:

Viñales is a beautiful valley with limestone (karst) landscape. It is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to UNESCO: “The Viñales Valley is an outstanding karst landscape in which traditional methods of agriculture (notably tobacco growing) have survived unchanged for several centuries.”

In the video: Viñales town, views to the valley from Los Jasmines & La Ermita, Mural de la Prehistoria, Los Aquaticos, Gruta de Viñales (or de Silencio?), Cueva del Indio, Cueva de San Miguel (and Palenque de los Cimarrones), and more …

Recorded April 2015 in 4K (Ultra HD) with Sony AX100.

Cuban oriole and red-legged honeycreepers, 6 March


This video from Cuba says about itself:

9 September 2011

Waterfall and Orchidarium (botanical garden) in the province of Pinar del Rio.

Still after our first blog post about 6 March 2017, on that day in western Cuba.

The earlier blog post ended about an indigo bunting at Las Terrazas.

Indigo bunting 6 March 2017

And we will continue now with that indigo bunting’s photo. It is a young bird, much less blue than adults.

Red-legged honeycreeper male, 6 March 2017

Our bus continued to trees with many red-legged honeycreepers; like this male.

Red-legged honeycreeper female, 6 March 2017

And this female.

Red-legged thrush, 6 March 2017

Not far away, a red-legged thrush.

Red-legged thrush, on 6 March 2017

Red-legged thrushes live not only in Cuba, but also in the Bahamas.

Cuban oriole, 6 March 2017

And another endemic species: a Cuban oriole.

Stay tuned!