Have you ever wanted to explore Cuba?
It’s hard to imagine a country with more biodiversity than Cuba. The island is ornithologically richest in the region, providing unique and amazing birdlife to photograph. The Cuban endemic bird species are some of the most beautiful and unique animals in the world, some of them are highly photogenic!
The best way to ensure that you can capture them on camera is to join a small group tour, specific to birdwatching and photography tours in Cuba. What you should expect when joining such a tour? A local nature tour guide, as they know their area intimately and will know where to find the birds, which ones are nesting when and ensure that they are not disturbed, whilst you still get an amazing photo opportunity.
Have an expert photographer on hand who can provide you tips on positioning yourself, your camera settings and even editing options once you captured ‘the shot’ through your lens. These are just some of the main ingredients of our photo tour.
You also must consider the timing of your bird photography trip to Cuba. Whilst you can take a trip all rear round, there are a few things to consider. The Wet season starts in April, which means it is very hot, humid and often raining. Also the highest numbers of birds are seen from November – April due to winter migration periods, so you get to admire the endemics and our visiting birds at this time.
We will explore some of the most interesting and beautiful birds in Cuba as well as their habitat on the island. So what birds can you expect to see?
The Cuban Tody is an endemic (the cutest, if you ask me!). It’s tiny, no bigger than 2 inches long, with an abnormally big head, long bill and short tail creating its unique look. In fact there are no others like this one! It usually hunts from low-to-middle level branches, and is a stealth ‘killer’ as it sits nearly still before leaping upwards to snatch prey. We can find this beauty in Soroa, Las Terrazas and the Zapata Peninsula on our tour. Giving plenty of opportunity to capture an amazing shot.
The Cuban Parakeet is an endemic, only occurring on mainland Cuba. Unfortunately its population drastically decreased due to the destruction of its habitats and them being captured as pets. You can still find them on the Zapata Peninsula, the mountains of Trinidad, Najasa, Cienaga de Biarma, and La Melba. They like their secondary forests and savannahs with palms, close to marshes. Best seen at the end of March and April.
The Cuban Trogon is another endemic to Cuba that you will see on your Photography tour. This one was shying away from Yoanis’ camera, however imagine the full colors of it: green back underneath those wings, blue crown, red belly and beak with white throat and chest… making it look a little like the Cuban flag, which is why it was named Cuba’s National Bird.
Differently to other trogons, it has a long fluffy tail making him rather unique. They are rather graceless when it comes to flying which makes them a noisy flyer who prefers short distances. They are also well known for being an active singer. Their Spanish name – Tocororo comes from their repeated call. Its natural habitats are forests, so we will likely see them in Soroa and on the Zapata Peninsula.
These are some of the brightest endemics, with 26 species on the island, there are plenty more unique species to see. What other wonderful birds making an appearance on your tour?
There are over 377 bird species that are endemics, residents or transient in Cuba. So plenty of beautiful creatures to see and capture through your lens.
Like the majestic American Pink Flamingo that you will have a chance to see ate the Zapata Peninsula leg of our trip. Cuba has some 70,000 nesting flamingos and countless chicks, the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere. There’ll certainly be a chance to capture a great picture or two of these beauties.
Then there are the miraculous creatures, a species of Hummingbird – the Cuban Emerald. They are common around the island and often tame around humans. The amazing green ones are the boys. They have and almost entirely metallic or iridescent green colour, with a bluish tinge to the chest and a white spot behind the eye and a forked tail. They measure about 10cm fully grown. The ladies look different, with a grey throat, chest and belly with green flanks. In size they are not that much smaller. Yoanis, our founder and nature guide, has a keen eye for spotting these beauties.
While we are on Humming Birds, you will also get a chance to see the Bee Hummingbird in Cuba, which is the smallest bird in the world. Just like bees, these guys also defy the laws of flying. They come in amazing colours, makes them look like a flying jewel. And although they are tiny, they tend to steel the lime light and one of the main reasons why birdwatchers visit Cuba!
Do you want to learn more about these birds? Get our Birding Guide full of information and be the first in line for tour updates.