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Cuban Tody (Photo: Steve Bird) CUBA!
Zapata Swamp, Cayo Coco,
Western Mountains
and Eastern Endemic Range

 April 2 - 12, 2017
plus Colonial Havana extension

Trip Cost & Travel >   Registration >
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!


Sunrise Birding LLC is pleased to announce a unique, U.S. led birding program to Cuba managed by the Caribbean Conservation Trust, IncOur Cuba Bird Survey will begin and end in Havana, one of the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas. We will arrive in Havana from Miami, and explore Cuba’s rural provinces and magnificent birding areas. Upon our return to Havana at the end of the birding program, you will have the option of taking a 1 day/night extension in Havana, one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities.

We have worked with CCT to develop this itinerary to take you to Cuba’s finest bird habitats, most beautiful national parks, diverse biosphere reserves, and unique natural areas. We will interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation. In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit. Finally, you can expect some degree of indulgence in the richness of Cuban culture, architecture, and history.

 

Cuba's Birds

Our itinerary provides opportunities to see many of Cuba’s endemic species and subspecies, as well as Neotropical migrant species that migrate south to Cuba in the fall.  Below are some possible species for this tour, endemics and endemic subspecies are in italics.           Above, Cuban Tody (Photo: Steve Bird)

  • Bare-legged Owl
  • Cuban Oriole
  • Bee Hummingbird
  • Blue-headed Quail-Dove
  • Gray-fronted Quail-Dove
  • Cuban Black Hawk
  • Cuban Blackbird
  • Cuban Bullfinch
  • Cuban Gnatcatcher
  • Cuban Grassquit
  • Cuban Green Woodpecker
  • Cuban Parakeet
  • Cuban Parrot
  • Cuban Pewee
  • Cuban Pygmy-Owl
  • Cuban Solitaire
  • Cuban Tody
  • Cuban Trogon
  • Cuban Vireo
  • Fernandina’s Flicker
  • Giant Kingbird
  • Gundlach’s Hawk
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Cuban Nightjar
  • Red-shouldered Blackbird
  • Tawny-shouldered Blackbird
  • Oriente Warbler
  • Yellow-headed Warbler
  • Zapata Wren
  • Zapata Sparrow
  • Cuban Crow
  • Palm Crow
  • Cuban Emerald
  • Bahama Mockingbird
  • Thick-billed Vireo
  • Western Spindalis

Cuban Pewee (Photo: Steve Bird)Other species of interest include:  
Great Lizard-Cuckoo, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Loggerhead Kingbird,
Olive-capped Warbler, Key West Quail-Dove, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Zenaida Dove, Stygian Owl, West Indian Whistling Duck, and a great variety of wading birds, and numerous other migratory and resident species.

 

The Bird Survey Areas
Cuba’s Western Mountains include two of the country’s most diverse and dramatic ranges: the Sierra de la Rosario, and Sierra de los Organos. We will explore an area common to both ranges in search of western range endemic species such as the Cuban Solitaire. A highlight of the trip, we will visit the magical, unusually beautiful karstic landscape of mogotes -- the towering, lushly vegetated, flat-top limestone monoliths that dominate the Organos Mountains. This is the only region in which we will likely see the Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Grassquit, Giant Kingbird, and Olive-capped Warbler. Other potential endemic species for western Cuba include Cuban Oriole, Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee (Photo: Steve Bird), Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Vireo,  and Yellow–headed Warbler.

Fernandina’s Flicker (Photo: Steve Bird)We will also explore the diverse wetland region of the Zapata Peninsula, Cuba’s richest and most important birding destination located in the historic Bay of Pigs. This peninsula is a Ramsar Convention ( international conservation treaty) designated site, and is among the most important wetlands in the West Indies. Here, the best local guides will lead us through protected areas in Cienaga de Zapata National Park and other natural sites off the beaten track. The Zapata Peninsula covers more than 2800 square miles and features easily accessible, everglades-like ecology and habitat. Framed by the pristine Caribbean coastal environment of the Bay of Pigs, the peninsula features vast open swamp land, low coastal forests, sparkling white sand beaches, healthy and accessible coral reefs, and refreshing natural limestone pools called cenotes. Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Black Hawk, Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, Fernandina’s Flicker (Photo: Steve Bird), Bare-legged Owl, Tawny- shouldered and Red-shouldered Blackbird are among the many birds we will hope to find (3 nights).

Cayo Coco and Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago provides excellent birding opportunities on Cuba’s Atlantic coast.  These previously uninhabited and relatively unexplored offshore islands were connected to the mainland by an 18+ mile causeway completed in 1989. Cuba’s academy of sciences (CITMA) maintains a research facility here. These barrier islands and keys provide unique opportunities for: Cuban Gnatcatcher, Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, West Indian Whistling Duck, as well as numerous shorebirds and aquatic birds. This region also provides additional opportunities to see rare endemics such as Zapata Sparrow and Gundlach’s Hawk.

 

Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc
The U.S. Department of Treasury has provided a license for conducting bird conservation work in Cuba to the Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT), a Connecticut based organization committed to the conservation of endemic and migratory birds and their habitats in the greater Caribbean region. In early 2016 CCT staff will begin their 20th year of managing bird conservation and natural history programs in Cuba. The primary objective of CCT is to enhance the ability of North American and Caribbean ornithologists, naturalists, resource managers, conservation organizations, institutions, and local citizens to conduct research and initiate programs to help Havana, Cuba.  Photo courtesy CCTconserve the birds of the Caribbean and their habitats. CCT is dedicated to bird and habitat conservation through education and relationship building and, is in compliance with U.S. Treasury licensure for travel to Cuba.

For a glimpse of CCT's program in action, go to:
http://video.pbs.org/program/counting-birds/ for a link to the film COUNTING ON BIRDS, a 2013 PBS production that describes the history of the Christmas Bird Count and features a segment on CCT's program in Cuba as an example how birders can contribute to ‘citizen science’ based bird conservation efforts.

 

Havana Extension
Upon our return to Havana at the end of the birding program, you will have the option of taking a 1 day/night extension in Havana, one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities. In Havana you will visit the home and private ornithological collection of Orlando Garrido, Cuba’s most prolific living naturalist and senior author of the Field Guide To the Birds of Cuba. You will also take a guided city tour, including a walking tour of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and the 4 original plazas, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Old Havana is like a living museum, and is currently undergoing rapid, energetic change.   If you are interested in this extension, please advise us upon registration for the tour.

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>      Registration Form>


Cuban Trogon (Photo: Steve Bird)ITINERARY

Day 1 ~ Sunday April 2 , 2017
Arrive Miami, Florida

Arrive Miami, accommodation in a Miami International Airport area hotel (included).

Day 2 ~ April 3 , 2017
Miami to Havana, Cuba

Airport transfer in Miami to Havana, Cuba. We will have a brief orientation and check in to our hotel in Havana for accommodation and dinner. Arrival time in Havana is unknown until flight schedules are released, sometimes just a month before travel!

 

Day 3 ~ April 4 , 2017
Havana to San Diego de los Banos / La Guira National Park

This morning we'll have breakfast, check out and head west (1.5 hours) for birding areas local to La Guira National Park.  We'll spend time in this wonderful area of woodland looking for species such as the endemic Olive-capped Warbler which can only be found among the pine trees. Many other good birds and endemics include such species as Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Bullfinch, Western Spindalis, the gorgeous Cuban Trogon (Photo: Steve Bird), Yellow-headed Warbler, Cuban Oriole and the tricky Cuban Solitaire which often gives itself away with its delightful song. As we check out other areas of forest we could find Cuban Green Woodpecker, West Indian Woodpecker, Red-legged Thrush, Loggerhead Kingbird, Cuban Pewee and possibly Cuban Pygmy-Owl or Black-whiskered Vireo. Many North American warblers winter in this area so if they are not already heading north we should see Palm, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Cape May, Black-throated Green, Cape May, Black-throated Blue and American Redstart.

Red-legged Thrush (Photo courtesy of CCT)We'll also visit Cueva de Portales, a classic ‘through cave’ carved by the San Diego River, which currently meanders through. This was Che Guevara’s military headquarters during the missile crisis of 1962. The endemic Cuban Vireo, Cuban Oriole as well as Giant Kingbird, Cuban Pewee, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Red-legged Thrush (Photo courtesy of CCT), and resident Olive-capped Warblers are possible here. Dinner and accommodation in San Diego de los Banos.

 

Day 4 ~ April 5 , 2017
San Diego de los Banos to Zapata Peninsula / Zapata Swamp

Morning birding nearby in Hacienda Cortina, an interesting former lavish estate surrounded by mixed forest. The endemic Fernandina’s Flicker, has been recorded here, along with Giant Kingbird and Cuban Grassquit (nearby). Lunch followed by departure east to the Zapata Peninsula. Birding stops along the way as opportunity permits. Accommodation and dinner (3 nights) on the picturesque Bay of Pigs.

 

Bee Hummingbird (world’s smallest bird)Day 5 ~ April 6 , 2017
Zapata Peninsula

Breakfast and departure for birding within Zapata National Park. This region contains the largest wetland complex in the West Indies, and is Cuba’s most prolific birding region. Here we have access to excellent local guides, as well as to protected areas and birding locations off the beaten track. A morning of birding in a nature preserve adjacent to the small village of Bermejas. Here is our best opportunity to see the endemic Bee Hummingbird,
the world’s smallest bird (Photo: Steve Bird), Fernandina’s Flicker, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Parrot, Blue-headed and Gray-fronted Quail-Doves, as well as Key West and Ruddy Quail Doves. Lunch at Caleta Buena, a beautiful limestone rimmed inlet abundant with fish. The historic Bay of Pigs museum is nearby. Afternoon birding in Bermejas.

 

Day 6 ~ April 7 , 2017
Zapata Peninsula

An early breakfast and a morning walk along a dry roadway in the swamp at La Turba and good opportunity for Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, Red-shouldered Blackbird and Tawny-shouldered Blackbird and a variety of warblers and other migrants. Parts of this area are reminiscent of the Everglades. Lunch followed by a mid-day break. Late afternoon visit to Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge, with numerous shorebirds, Reddish Egrets, Wood Storks, Spoonbills, Flamingos and endemic Cuban Black-Hawk. All walking is on dry, flat terrain (less than 2 miles total). Evening attempts to find Stygian Owl and/or the endemic Cuban Nightjar.


Cuban Parrots, Zapata National Park.
Cuban Parrots, Zapata National Park. Photo courtesy of CCT.

 

Day 7 ~ April 8, 2017
Zapata to Cayo Coco

Zapata Sparrow (Photo: Steve Bird)Breakfast, check out and departure north west to Cayo Coco on Cuba’s Atlantic shore. The Cuban archipelago is the setting for Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. The ‘keys’ offer excellent birding, scenery and accommodation. Birding on site or en route (or both), depending on timing of arrival.

It is here in Cayo Coco that we will be searching for the endemic Zapata Sparrow (Photo: Steve Bird), the exceptionally beautiful Cuban Tody, Cuban Vireo and a few more migrants such as White-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler. We should also see Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Crested Caracara, Caspian and Royal Terns and Clapper Rail alongside possibilities of many shorebirds and gulls.

 

Day 8 ~ April 9, 2017
Cayo Coco
Archipelago
Cuban Gnatcatcher (Photo: Steve Bird)Morning birding on Cayo Paredon Grande, the northeastern-most key in the Cayo Coco archipelago, which is one of Cuba’s most important migratory landfalls. Cuban Gnatcatcher (Photo: Steve Bird), Thick-billed Vireo, Zapata Sparrow, and West Indian Whistling Duck are target birds for the day. Lunch at the hotel followed by afternoon birding on Cayo Guillermo amidst mangrove flats, low coastal scrub, and pristine white sand shoreline (roadside, flat walking).  Here we'll look for Bahama Mockingbird, Oriente Warbler, possibly Mangrove Cuckoo, La Sagra's Flycatcher, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Prairie Warbler and the critically endangered Thick-billed Vireo. On Day 8, we'll have dinner and accommodation in Cayo Coco. On Day 9, we'll have a morning birding session to look for for quail doves and other forest birds. The endangered Bahama Mockingbird is another target in the area. 

 

DHavana.ay 9 ~ April 10 , 2017
Sancti Spiritus Province

Today we drive to Sancti Spiritus (2.5 hours) for accommodation and dinner. Birder stops along the way for interesting species or anything we may need.

 

Day 10 ~ April 11 , 2017
Sancti Spiritus to Havana

Breakfast, departure west towards Havana (5 hours) with birding stops along the way. Lunch is on the road. Dinner and accommodation in Havana, the Caribbean’s most historic colonial city.

 

Day 11 ~ April 12, 2017
Havana to Miami
Breakfast, checkout and transfer to the airport for one hour flight to Miami OR HAVANA EXTENSION *

 

*Day 11 ~ April 12, 2017
HAVANA EXTENSION

After breakfast we will visit the home and private ornithological collection of Orlando Garrido, Cuba’s greatest living naturalist. Sr. Garrido is a retired and venerable former Curator of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History in Havana, and co-author of the Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba as well as hundreds of scientific publications. This visit is always mentioned as a trip highlight. Also included is a guided ½ day orientation to Havana, including a walking tour of Old Havana, one of the jewels of colonial America. Lunch & dinner at a paladare (private Cuban restaurant) are included.

 

*Day 12 ~ April 13, 2017
Havana to Miami

Breakfast, checkout and transfer to the airport for one hour flight to Miami.


Tour Leadership
We will work with a very competent team of professional biologists, museum curators and general naturalists in Cuba. Our full time Cuban biologist and primary Cuban birding guide will be with us throughout the program in the field and will assist in finding and identifying birds, as well as providing a broad overview of Cuban natural history. He may share specific information relative to the flora, fauna, geology and other natural features of the environments we visit. Additionally, we will work with regional naturalists from the national parks and biosphere reserves that we visit around the country.  

A Bilingual Cuban Guide will be at our service throughout the program. Along with a professional driver, he or she will be with the group each day to tell us about Cuban history, culture, arts and lifestyle. He/she will also deal with logistics, meals, translation, and other nuts-and-bolts aspects of the travel experience.

Accommodations
Accommodations will be in hotels or private homes in Havana and 4 additional provinces. Our Cuban hotels are staffed by friendly hosts and represent the best Cuba has to offer in the regions we visit, and may include refurbished vintage 4 star hotels, modest 3 star facilities, and simple beach-front bungalows. All hotels and homes are safe and clean and most have air conditioned tourist facilities. It should be noted that standards in Cuba differ from those in the U.S. and other developed countries.  As tourism increases in Cuba, we are investigating all of the options for providing reliable accommodation and will make changes as warranted. 

Additional Details
Confirmed registrants will receive a bird list as well as details with regard to travel to Cuba, including all of the basics you need to know about travel documents, customs, facts about Cuba, currency, health and safety, food, flights, and what to bring. U.S. Government authorization documents and bird checklist will be provided following receipt of your final balance.

Physical Demands and Expectations
This program offers opportunities for several days of ambitious birding, with early departure times on birding days, and occasional evening sessions. Birding days may provide leisure time after lunch and before our afternoon birding sessions. Physical exertion will be light to moderate on most days, with the longest walks approximately 3 miles. Terrain is mostly flat and dry, with some hills present in western Cuba. All participants should be in reasonably good physical condition. Be prepared for strong sun, with temperatures in the mid-70s – 90s. Mosquitoes can be bothersome in Cayo Coco and the Zapata Region. Although unlikely, rain may occur as well, so bring adequate rain gear. Those with medical concerns should check with their physician before taking part in the program. Your health and well-being are very important to us!



Cuban Pygmy Owl Photo by Steve Bird.CUBA!
 April 2 - 12, 2017
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!   
Registration Form>

TOUR PRICE: Main tour price to be confirmed, Approximately $4995.00 per person/double occupancy based on 12 passengers from Miami, Florida (Airport code: MIA). Reservations are accepted on a first come, first served basis, and must be accompanied by a deposit. Enrollment is limited to 14 participants.  Havana extension price and single supplement TBA. 
Deposit: $500 per person.  Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise gina@sunrisebirding.com when you have made payment. 

Single Supplement: To be confirmed, Approximately$650.00 per person (subject to availability)

Photo: Cuban Pygmy Owl by Steve Bird.

What is included: Accommodations and meals in Cuba beginning with dinner on Day 1, ending with breakfast on the last day of the program. Guide services, most tips (guides, drivers, naturalists and restaurant and bell staff), airport/hotel transfers, ground transportation, bottled water, some drinks, admission fees (itinerary only), U.S. Department of Treasury authorization documents.  Program management services which include the provision of all pre- and post-program materials, a full-time Cuban bilingual guide, bilingual Cuban naturalists, and a full time driver. Program fees include a donation to programs that help support Caribbean Conservation Trust’s bird conservation efforts in Cuba.

Not Included:  Travel to and from Miami and Havana, Cuba (estimated at $ 500-$600); items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, additional beverages, bar and housekeeping tips, etc., airport departure taxes (currently $30 departing Cuba), U.S. passport fees, meals or accommodations in Miami, or other fees not listed in the program. Cost estimates are as of October 2015 and are subject to change.

Flights: You will be responsible for making your travel plans to Miami, Florida (Airport code: MIA). There will be a charter flight to Havana and the group will fly from Miami to Havana on flights arranged by an authorized Cuba Travel Service provider. Flight schedules are approved by the U.S. government several weeks prior to departure, and were not available at the time this description was compiled. We will provide all of the information necessary to make booking these flights simple & secure. For your travel from home to and from Miami, we have a flight agent that can help if needed. Information will be forthcoming about timings for arrivals and departures.  Please do not book any flights until specifically instructed to do so by us. 

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of $500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   >Download & print the Registration Form 

Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place.  Final payment is due December 2, 2016. 

Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators, estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets and the changes in access to Cuba make it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:  All cancellations must be made in writing.  In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.  There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance to cover any eventuality is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

 

Travelex

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at gina@sunrisebirding.com 
Phone: 203.453.6724

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More Cuban specialties!

Giant Kingbird

Cuban Bullfinch

Cuban Emerald

Cuban Green Woodpecker

Cuban Parrot

Great Lizard Cuckoo

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