Birding Cuba with Steve Eshbaugh

Birding Cuba with Merlin Birding and Holbrook Travel

Merlin Birding is partnering with Holbrook Travel to offer this once-in-a-lifetime trip.Cuba’s protected natural areas, geographic isolation, and limited development combine to create an ideal destination for birders. The country’s diverse habitats support over 360 avian species, more than two dozen of which are endemic to the island. On this 11 day program, you’ll have the opportunity to observe specialties like the Cuban Tody, Zapata Wren, and Oriente Warbler, and explore dry scrub, mangrove, wetland, and coastal ecosystems. Gain deeper insight during meetings with Cuban conservationists to discuss projects and governmental policies. During your travels, meet Cuba’s friendly people and discover the rich history and culture for which the country is known. 

TO REGISTER FOR THIS TRIP please visit Holbrook Travel

  • Fri 1 MarDay 1

    Arrive in Havana, Cuba

    You will be met at the airport and transported to our first night's accommodations. Overnight at Ambos Mundas hotel.

  • Sat 2 MarDay 2


    After breakfast, meet your guide, driver and Cuban ornithologist, who will accompany us throughout the entire program. Morning visit to the Quinta de los Molinos and learn how this urban park is used to connect residents with nature. If possible meet with students participating in the Birds of the City project. Take a walking tour of Old Havana before dinner. Overnight at Ambos Mundos. (BLD)

  • Sun 3 MarDay 3


    Cuban Trogon (Tocororo)

    Depart for La Guira National Park in San Diego de los Baños. Along the way, stop for birding at Las Terrazas, a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve, guided by Fidel Hernandez from the Ecological Station of Las Terrazas. Target species are Cuban Grassquit and Olive-capped Warbler. Other notable species here are Cuba’s national bird, the Tocororo, and the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. Meet with community residents who helped save this site, now amodel of sustainability and ecotourism. This afternoon arrive at La Guira National Park, 54,000 acres of mountain wilderness, picturesque valleys, and hidden caves, and home to species such as Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, Cuban Bullfinch, and Cuban Pewee. Overnight at Hotel Mirador. (BLD)

  • Mon 4 MarDay 4


    Early breakfast followed by morning birding at Cueva de Los Portales, a limestone cave adjacent to hills covered in lush vegetation. The cave is interesting both geologically and historically, famous for being Che Guevara’s headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The area is renowned for being an excellent place to spot Cuban Solitaire, our target species, and Scaly-naped Pigeon. This afternoon visit the Viñales area, a tobacco farm and the home of Nils Navarro, world-renowned nature artist and author. Overnight at Hotel Mirador. (BLD)

  • Tue 5 MarDay 5


    Cuban Emerald

    Depart early for the long drive to the Zapata Swamp. The Zapata area consists of scrub, mangrove swamp, and coastline. Over 200 species have been recorded here including the endemic Zapata Wren and Zapata Sparrow. We will also look for species such as Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Greater Antillean Oriole, and Cuban Emerald. Late afternoon birding if time permits. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga. (BLD)

  • Wed 6 MarDay 6


    Depart after an early breakfast for the La Turba area, where you may find Zapata Wren and Zapata Sparrow. Lunch in the town of Palpite where a special visit with artists of the Korimacao Project has been arranged. The Korimacao Community Project consists of residents from Cuban communities who are given the opportunity to develop and improve their performing skills such as singing, dancing, and playing instruments. Learn about the program’s development and interact with the talented students. Afternoon birding at Salinas, an area frequented by many species of waterbirds that live in mangrove swamps, coastal lagoons, and woods. Over 165 indigenous and migratory birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates are found here. Expect to see flamingos, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy and White Ibis, herons, pelicans, Snail Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Cuban Black Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, and others. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga. (BLD)

  • Thu 7 MarDay 7


    Blue-headed Quail-dove

    After breakfast leave for the Bermejas site. Target species include the Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Pygmy Owl, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina’s Flicker, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, and Cuban Grassquit. A mosaic of dry forest, swamp, mangrove and mudflats, the Zapata Peninsula is one of the best preserved ecosystems on the island. Other species we might encounter are Bare legged Owl, Blue headed Quail Dove and Gray fronted Quail. Lunch at a local restaurant with Zapata area conservationists who will provide updates on projects underway to preserve Cuba’s largest wetlands. In the late afternoon, bird in the nearby Sopillar region of the reserve. Dine at a paladar and meet the owners who provide insight about their entrepreneurial activities. Overnight at Hotel Playa Larga. (BLD

  • Fri 8 MarDay 8


    Early breakfast, then depart for the long drive to Cayo Coco. Afternoon birding on the hotel’s grounds. Overnight at Tryp Cayo Coco. (BLD)

  • Sat 9 MarDay 9


    Morning visit to Cayo Guillermo, returning to the hotel for lunch. This afternoon visit Cayo Romano. The Cayo Coco area combines an ideal spot for observing Cuba’s bird life with beautiful beach and snorkeling opportunities. Look for Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, and Cuban Gnatcatcher, in addition to a variety of waterbirds including the West Indian Whistling-Duck. Overnight at Tryp Cayo Coco. (BLD)

  • Sun 10 MarDay 10


    This morning visit Cayo Paredon Grande for birding, hopefully catching any species we missed in the cayos. Afternoon free to enjoy the area. Overnight at Tryp Cayo Coco. (BLD)

  • Mon 11 MarDay 11


    Morning at leisure before depart for the Camaguey airport in time for flight home. (BL)