Cuba – The End

Day 8 – Hasta la Victoria Siempre

We assembled early on January 12 to board the bus for the long drive to Havana. As for prior driving days, we enjoyed getting to view a broad swath of the Cuban countryside. First, however, we had to get to the Cuban mainland and getting there required a long drive on the causeway. We stopped on one island to fuel the bus and found a surprising number of warblers in the trees around the fueling station. We also picked up a few new shorebirds along the causeway itself.

Our longest stop en route to Havana was in Santa Clara. Our first stop there was at Hotel Los Caneyes for a buffet lunch, and where we would also see a large roost of Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats. More importantly, Santa Clara was where the Cuban Revolution was won in 1958 in a two-pronged attack led by Ernesto Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. After lunch, we toured the Che Guevara Memorial and Mausoleum (Conjunto Escultórico Memorial Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara). The inside of the mausoleum, with a strict no photography policy, was beautiful and housed a large number of revolutionaries. Also inside was an eternal flame. Adjacent to the mausoleum was a museum, which also forbade photos, that told the story of the Cuban Revolution in artifacts and photos from both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Photos were allowed outdoors of the monument (in one of the images below you can see a Cuban soldier for scale) which faced a large area that in English is called Victory Square.

After leaving Santa Clara was the long push to Havana. We arrived well after dark, with our first stop being for dinner at a beautiful coastal restaurant. Street musicians played local music for us as we ate. I gave them some money, and they unexpectedly started playing classic American rock songs. That wasn’t the intended result.

We arrived late at our accommodations in a beautiful area near the US Embassy. We ended January 12 with 13 total bird species.

Day 9 – Viva La Habana

Our last full day in Cuba was not about birds, except that our first stop was the eclectic home of Orlando Garrido, a great Cuban ornithologist (and former professional tennis player!) and the author of the Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba. We packed tightly into his office where the 92-year-old told stories of early exploration and species discovery, where he is certain Ivory-billed Woodpeckers still exist, and his time playing at Wimbledon. I was happy to have him sign my field guide before we left.

After we left Garrido’s home we spent several hours touring Old Havana. There, we learned much about the history of the place, its deterioration, and its subsequent revival into a world class destination for travelers (except for most Americans, unfortunately!). We originally planned lunch in Old Havana, but a regional gas outage prompted a change in plans and we bussed outside of town to have lunch at a wonderful Hemingway-themed restaurant. It was while we were there that a storm came in, preventing our planned continuation of the tour of Old Havana. We instead visited the offices of the local tour company operating our trip, then returned to our accommodations with instructions on when to meet for dinner.

It was while waiting for the expected bus that four beautiful 1950s-era convertibles pulled up on the street. We went to check them out, and got excited when we were told the cars were there for us. We split ourselves up between vehicles, and then toured Havana for somewhere around an hour. The highlight was easily La Plaza de la Revolución with its massive monuments and building-sized portraits of revolution-era Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The tour ended at a vintage America-themed restaurant where we had a private room and a private Cuban jazz band. While we were there for birds, this night – for me anyway – was the highlight experience of the trip and, perhaps, any trip I have taken anywhere.

The table below summarizes the 159 bird species I observed in Cuba based on output from eBird. Cuban endemics observed are highlighted in green. In eBird outputs, even for longer periods, the count is the number of birds recorded on the first list the species was recorded. Likewise, the location is the location first recorded.

Common NameScientific NameCountLocation
West Indian Whistling-DuckDendrocygna arborea1Laguna flamingos
Blue-winged TealSpatula discors12Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeata10Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
American WigeonMareca americana4Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
White-cheeked PintailAnas bahamensis6Laguna flamingos
Ring-necked DuckAythya collarisEmbalse Nina Bonita
Lesser ScaupAythya affinis10Embalse Nina Bonita
Red-breasted MerganserMergus serrator1Laguna flamingos
American FlamingoPhoenicopterus ruber100Las Salinas de Brito
Least GrebeTachybaptus dominicus8Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Pied-billed GrebePodilymbus podiceps1Embalse Nina Bonita
Rock PigeonColumba livia1Jose Marti International Airport
Scaly-naped PigeonPatagioenas squamosa1Orquideario de Soroa
White-crowned PigeonPatagioenas leucocephala2Orquideario de Soroa
Eurasian Collared-DoveStreptopelia decaocto1Auto selected 22.25515, -80.72435
Common Ground DoveColumbina passerina1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Blue-headed Quail-DoveStarnoenas cyanocephala5Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Gray-fronted Quail-DoveGeotrygon caniceps1Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Key West Quail-DoveGeotrygon chrysia3Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
White-winged DoveZenaida asiatica1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Zenaida DoveZenaida aurita1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Mourning DoveZenaida macroura1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Smooth-billed AniCrotophaga ani4Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Mangrove CuckooCoccyzus minor1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Great Lizard-CuckooCoccyzus merlini3Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban NightjarAntrostomus cubanensis1Soplillar
White-collared SwiftStreptoprocne zonaris3Auto selected 21.87180, -80.23300
Antillean Palm SwiftTachornis phoenicobia2Carretera de la CUJAE, Havana CU-City of Havana 23.04766, -82.41825
Bee HummingbirdMellisuga helenae4Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Cuban EmeraldRiccordia ricordii4Orquideario de Soroa
Clapper RailRallus crepitans1PN Cienaga de Zapata–Las Salinas
SoraPorzana carolina3Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Common GallinuleGallinula galeata2Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
American CootFulica americana1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Purple GallinulePorphyrio martinica1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
LimpkinAramus guarauna1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus20Las Salinas de Brito
American AvocetRecurvirostra americana10Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarola1PN Cienaga de Zapata – Las Salinas – 1st platform
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus13Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Piping PloverCharadrius melodus1Laguna flamingos
KilldeerCharadrius vociferus1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres3Auto selected 22.30652, -78.51729
Red KnotCalidris canutus8Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopus1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
SanderlingCalidris alba1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
DunlinCalidris alpina3PN Cienaga de Zapata – Las Salinas – 1st platform
Least SandpiperCalidris minutilla1Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseus20Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Spotted SandpiperActitis macularius2Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleuca3Babiney Rice Fields
WilletTringa semipalmata4Las Salinas de Brito
Lesser YellowlegsTringa flavipes8Las Salinas de Brito
Bonaparte’s GullChroicocephalus philadelphia2Embalse Nina Bonita
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricilla1Auto selected 22.28230, -81.21033
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon nilotica1Embalse Nina Bonita
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspia4Las Salinas de Brito
Forster’s TernSterna forsteri1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Royal TernThalasseus maximus1Auto selected 22.28230, -81.21033
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensis1Auto selected 22.29335, -78.52741
Wood StorkMycteria americana1Auto selected 22.33028, -81.18326
Magnificent FrigatebirdFregata magnificens1Embalse Nina Bonita
AnhingaAnhinga anhinga1Auto selected 22.28374, -81.20983
Double-crested CormorantNannopterum auritum1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Neotropic CormorantNannopterum brasilianum1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
American White PelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchos20Babiney Rice Fields
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis2Embalse Nina Bonita
Least BitternIxobrychus exilis1Zapata–La Turba
Great Blue HeronArdea herodias1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Great EgretArdea alba1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Snowy EgretEgretta thula1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Little Blue HeronEgretta caerulea2Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Tricolored HeronEgretta tricolor1Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Reddish EgretEgretta rufescens2PN Cienaga de Zapata – Las Salinas – 1st platform
Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis1Auto selected 22.92124, -82.73503
Green HeronButorides virescens1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticorax1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
White IbisEudocimus albus3Hotel Playa Larga
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellus60Babiney Rice Fields
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajaja15PN Cienaga de Zapata–Las Salinas
Turkey VultureCathartes aura1Jose Marti International Airport
OspreyPandion haliaetus1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Snail KiteRostrhamus sociabilis2Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Northern HarrierCircus hudsonius1PN Cienaga de Zapata–Las Salinas
Gundlach’s HawkAccipiter gundlachi1Auto selected 21.80060, -79.73133
Cuban Black HawkButeogallus gundlachii1PN Cienaga de Zapata–Las Salinas
Red-tailed HawkButeo jamaicensis1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Barn OwlTyto alba1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Bare-legged OwlMargarobyas lawrencii2Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Cuban Pygmy-OwlGlaucidium siju1Orquideario de Soroa
Stygian OwlAsio stygius2Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Cuban TrogonPriotelus temnurus2Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban TodyTodus multicolor1Orquideario de Soroa
Belted KingfisherMegaceryle alcyon1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerSphyrapicus varius1Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Cuban Green WoodpeckerXiphidiopicus percussus3Orquideario de Soroa
West Indian WoodpeckerMelanerpes superciliaris1Orquideario de Soroa
Northern FlickerColaptes auratus2Orquideario de Soroa
Fernandina’s FlickerColaptes fernandinae2Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Crested CaracaraCaracara plancus1Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
American KestrelFalco sparverius1Pinar del Rio–Farming Ponds
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus1Carretera de la CUJAE, Havana CU-City of Havana 23.04766, -82.41825
Cuban ParrotAmazona leucocephala4Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Cuban ParakeetPsittacara euops20Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Cuban PeweeContopus caribaeus1Orquideario de Soroa
La Sagra’s FlycatcherMyiarchus sagrae1Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Loggerhead KingbirdTyrannus caudifasciatus1Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban VireoVireo gundlachii1Orquideario de Soroa
Yellow-throated VireoVireo flavifrons1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Blue-headed VireoVireo solitarius1Orquideario de Soroa
Palm CrowCorvus palmarum4Auto selected 21.82021, -79.75679
Cuban CrowCorvus nasicus4Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Tree SwallowTachycineta bicolor2Babiney Rice Fields
Cave SwallowPetrochelidon fulva1Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Cuban GnatcatcherPolioptila lembeyei3Auto selected 21.81701, -80.10265
Blue-gray GnatcatcherPolioptila caerulea1Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Zapata WrenFerminia cerverai2Zapata–La Turba
Gray CatbirdDumetella carolinensis1Orquideario de Soroa
Bahama MockingbirdMimus gundlachii1Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
Northern MockingbirdMimus polyglottos1Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban SolitaireMyadestes elisabeth1Orquideario de Soroa
Red-legged ThrushTurdus plumbeus1Orquideario de Soroa
Cedar WaxwingBombycilla cedrorum2Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata4Embalse Nina Bonita
House SparrowPasser domesticus1Jose Marti International Airport
Zapata SparrowTorreornis inexpectata2Zapata–La Turba
Western SpindalisSpindalis zena8Orquideario de Soroa
Yellow-headed WarblerTeretistris fernandinae1Orquideario de Soroa
Oriente WarblerTeretistris fornsi1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna2Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Cuban OrioleIcterus melanopsis1Orquideario de Soroa
Red-shouldered BlackbirdAgelaius assimilis2Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Tawny-shouldered BlackbirdAgelaius humeralis8Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban BlackbirdPtiloxena atroviolacea1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Greater Antillean GrackleQuiscalus niger1Auto selected 22.93744, -82.72890
OvenbirdSeiurus aurocapilla1Refugio de Fauna Bermeja
Louisiana WaterthrushParkesia motacilla1Zapata–La Turba
Northern WaterthrushParkesia noveboracensis2Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Black-and-white WarblerMniotilta varia1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Tennessee WarblerLeiothlypis peregrina1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Common YellowthroatGeothlypis trichas1Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
American RedstartSetophaga ruticilla1Orquideario de Soroa
Cape May WarblerSetophaga tigrina1Auto selected 22.28230, -81.21033
Northern ParulaSetophaga americana1Orquideario de Soroa
Magnolia WarblerSetophaga magnolia1Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechia1PN Cienaga de Zapata – Las Salinas – 1st platform
Black-throated Blue WarblerSetophaga caerulescens1Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Palm WarblerSetophaga palmarum1Auto selected 22.76491, -82.99434
Olive-capped WarblerSetophaga pityophila2Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas
Yellow-rumped WarblerSetophaga coronata1Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos
Yellow-throated WarblerSetophaga dominica1Orquideario de Soroa
Prairie WarblerSetophaga discolor1Auto selected 22.15320, -80.82571
Black-throated Green WarblerSetophaga virens1Palpite Casa de Bernabe
Summer TanagerPiranga rubra1Orquideario de Soroa
Painted BuntingPasserina ciris1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Red-legged HoneycreeperCyanerpes cyaneus10Orquideario de Soroa
Yellow-faced GrassquitTiaris olivaceus3Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban BullfinchMelopyrrha nigra1Orquideario de Soroa
Cuban GrassquitPhonipara canora35Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario–Las Terrazas

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