Despite the time shift I had just encountered from traveling to Cuba I was up well before dawn. My unexpected first bird calling from somewhere in the darkness was a Killdeer. The second was more expected as a Barn Owl screeched while flying somewhere nearby. I saw a strange light behind the trees and thought it unusual that there was a light so bright in such a rural area, until it became obvious that it was a setting full moon. Soon others awoke and we poked around the edge of the forest and the banana plantation looking for birds as the run rose. After a great homemade breakfast we boarded the bus for our first birding stop of the day.
That first stop was to where we saw so many things the previous afternoon at Orquideario de Soroa. As you might expect arriving just after sunrise there was much more activity than the day before. We recorded 16 species in the hour or so that we were there, and I got decent (but not marketable) shots of Cuban Solitaire, Western Spindalis, and Cuban Oriole among others. The money shots came from a Cuban Tody with an attitude (as, I guess, all todies do) who chattered at us at close range with its feathers fluffed out, showing both its front and back sides.
Much of the remainder of the day would be spent at Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario at Las Terrazas (hereafter, Las Terrazas). The area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984. Birding was centered around the mostly reforested areas surrounding a lagoon and the community of Las Terrazas itself with the assistance of a resident guide.
As the guide introduced himself and began to talk about the area under the shade of Caribbean Pines he was interrupted by the calls of our first Cuban endemic of the area: several Olive-capped Warblers. They reminded me of Grace’s Warbler, including their apparent preference for pine woodlands. An endemic Yellow-headed Warbler also made an appearance at close range. While this was a species we had already seen on the trip, I was able to get a better photo this time. After the guide finished our initial introduction to the area we poked around on an adjacent hillside where we found several Stygian Owls waiting out the daylight in the tops of several Caribbean Pines.
I was excited when we ventured down a trail, and was even more excited that it had some fairly rough terrain. Birding on the trail was decent, though it was difficult on the trail (as it often is) to get everyone good looks at foliage-obscured birds when they are spread out on a narrow ribbon of dirt. Our best location was a clearing where the trail widened and we had close-up views of another Cuban Trogon, and I was able to get pretty good photos of Loggerhead Kingbird and a fly-by Red-tailed Hawk.
For lunch we drove to a nearby hilltop to eat at Cafetal Buenavista, a beautiful stone building with stunning views for miles in all directions. The restaurant was clearly popular with the monied people of Cuba, as well as senior officers in the Cuban military, including a chauffeured general who looked like what you might expect a Cuban general to look like.
After lunch we returned to Las Terrazas where we visited the studio of renowned Cuban artist Lester Campa. I was not aware we were stopping here, or even that he lived there, until we showed up on his doorstep at his studio on the water. I immediately recognized his image combining John Lennon and Che Guevara, which I assume is his most famous painting. His most common theme was a combination of music and nature, and I was awestruck by many of his works despite not considering myself much of an art aficionado.
We ended birding along the lagoon where we saw Limpkins and Purple Gallinules, among other things, then to a nearby farm where we got close looks at large numbers of Cuban Grassquits. We ended the day where we started, in Soroa, with another group dinner at a different house. This one had internet, which allowed me to call my wife for the first time and reassert that there were limited opportunities to contact the world outside of Cuba. That was alright, though, as it was nice to disconnect.
The table below summarizes the 49 bird species observed on our second day in Cuba based on output from eBird. The 13 Cuban endemics observed that day are highlighted in green.
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Count||Location|
|Scaly-naped Pigeon||Patagioenas squamosa||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Common Ground Dove||Columbina passerina||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|White-winged Dove||Zenaida asiatica||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Zenaida Dove||Zenaida aurita||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Mourning Dove||Zenaida macroura||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Smooth-billed Ani||Crotophaga ani||4||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Great Lizard-Cuckoo||Coccyzus merlini||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Cuban Emerald||Riccordia ricordii||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Common Gallinule||Gallinula galeata||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|American Coot||Fulica americana||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Purple Gallinule||Porphyrio martinica||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Limpkin||Aramus guarauna||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Killdeer||Charadrius vociferus||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Red-tailed Hawk||Buteo jamaicensis||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Barn Owl||Tyto alba||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Cuban Pygmy-Owl||Glaucidium siju||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Stygian Owl||Asio stygius||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Cuban Trogon||Priotelus temnurus||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Cuban Tody||Todus multicolor||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Belted Kingfisher||Megaceryle alcyon||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Cuban Green Woodpecker||Xiphidiopicus percussus||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|West Indian Woodpecker||Melanerpes superciliaris||2||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Loggerhead Kingbird||Tyrannus caudifasciatus||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Yellow-throated Vireo||Vireo flavifrons||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Gray Catbird||Dumetella carolinensis||2||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Northern Mockingbird||Mimus polyglottos||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Cuban Solitaire||Myadestes elisabeth||2||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Red-legged Thrush||Turdus plumbeus||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Western Spindalis||Spindalis zena||8||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Yellow-headed Warbler||Teretistris fernandinae||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Eastern Meadowlark||Sturnella magna||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Cuban Oriole||Icterus melanopsis||3||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Tawny-shouldered Blackbird||Agelaius humeralis||8||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Cuban Blackbird||Ptiloxena atroviolacea||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Greater Antillean Grackle||Quiscalus niger||4||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Black-and-white Warbler||Mniotilta varia||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Tennessee Warbler||Leiothlypis peregrina||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Northern Parula||Setophaga americana||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Black-throated Blue Warbler||Setophaga caerulescens||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Palm Warbler||Setophaga palmarum||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Olive-capped Warbler||Setophaga pityophila||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Yellow-throated Warbler||Setophaga dominica||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Summer Tanager||Piranga rubra||1||Orquideario de Soroa|
|Red-legged Honeycreeper||Cyanerpes cyaneus||1||Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434|
|Yellow-faced Grassquit||Tiaris olivaceus||1||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Cuban Bullfinch||Melopyrrha nigra||2||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|
|Cuban Grassquit||Phonipara canora||35||Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas|