Cuba Mar 14—25, 2017

Posted by David Ascanio


David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours throughout his native country, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, the Amazon River, ...

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Once the plane touched the tarmac of the Camaguey airport, we experienced an eloquent hand-clapping that followed the scratching of the plane tires (part of the Cuban culture), and soon after the plane stopped in front of the terminal, we were descending the stairway to feel the iconic Caribbean breeze with warm air blowing in our faces. Welcome to Cuba!

From the first day we submerged ourselves into a country so different from any other that each day turned out to be better or radically different from the previous one. And to that we added great camaraderie, lots of fun, and great music with dancing opportunities combined with field trips that helped everyone to absorb much of Cuba’s culture and—at the same time—enjoy superb views of all the possible Cuban endemic birds and several regional specialties (except for the Goundlach´s Hawk that was seen only briefly in flight).

Cuban Grassquit

Cuban Grassquit— Photo: David Ascanio


The first morning we took a drive from the picturesque city of Camaguey to Najasa and further east to Rancho La Belen. Both locations gave us the opportunity to see our first Cuban Parrot (near-threatened) and Cuban Parakeet (vulnerable). We also saw Cuban Palm Crow (near-threatened) and the unmistakable Giant Kingbird (endangered).  As we enjoyed these birds, we learned about the research conducted by Camilo, the local expert who’s preparing a manuscript highlighting unknown ecological aspects of the breeding behavior of the Giant Kingbird. Another target species was the Plain Pigeon (near-threatened), one that we saw at close distance.

Read David’s full report in his Field List.