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In addition to close flight views, we had some nice looks at perched Brown Boobies on the cliffs below us at Cabo Rojo. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
This short introduction to the birdlife of Puerto Rico was a smashing success this year. We found all 17 of the island's endemic bird species, saw several regional specialties, enjoyed the beauty of Puerto Rico, ate some tasty food, and had a darned good time doing it all.
The tour started off in San Juan with an introductory dinner, but we retired to bed early to prepare for a predawn start the following day. We headed west to Rio Abajo, where we found Puerto Rican Screech-Owls, enjoyed a picnic breakfast, and then walked a forest road until we came to a good site to wait for Puerto Rican Parrots to arrive. After an hour or so, we heard some parrots yelping as they flew in, and then all of a sudden, there they were! This is one of the rarest birds in the Caribbean, and here we were staring at them at point-blank range -- incredible! This population at Rio Abajo is thriving due to an active reintroduction project at the site. Farther to the west, we found the long-staying American Flamingo tending to its new nest, and also saw some White-tailed Tropicbirds below the mirador at Guajataca before heading to our beachside hotel in Parguera.
Our second full day together found us exploring an agricultural region dotted with productive wetlands near Lajas (including the famous Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge). Masked Duck, Caribbean Coot, Least Bittern, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Antillean Mango, and more showed off nicely for us. After an afternoon break and a walk through Parguera, we headed out in the evening to search for the range-restricted Puerto Rican Nightjar in the hills near Guanica. A short walk up into the dry, scrubby forest put us right in the thick of things, and we were surrounded by calling nightjars as darkness fell. Some repositioning and a good guess with the spotlight allowed us to see this rare bird quite nicely before we headed back to Parguera to get some rest.
Another early start took us to the beautiful, cool highlands of Maricao State Forest. This site is a wonderful cradle of the island's endemic landbirds, and we had a special time watching Elfin-woods Warblers, Green Mangos, Puerto Rican Tanagers, Puerto Rican Orioles, Lesser Antillean ("Puerto Rican") Pewee, and much more. In just a few hours, we saw 11 of the island's 17 endemic birds! After lunch at our hotel, we ventured back out into the hills to Susúa State Forest, where we had a quiet afternoon looking for quail-doves. Puerto Rican Orioles showed off nicely, but we only heard one Key West Quail-Dove this time.
Our last morning on the island's western side took us to the wonderfully scenic Cabo Rojo, a hooklike peninsula at the extreme southwestern corner of the island. The sandflats were loaded with shorebirds including hundreds of Semipalmated and Western sandpipers. We took a lovely walk up to the lighthouse and the bluffs beyond, finding Caribbean Elaenia, Venezuelan Troupial, and a spectacular view of the sea, highlighted by swooping Brown Boobies and White-tailed Tropicbirds just overhead. Then we headed east, stopping in Comerío to see Plain Pigeons at a well-known stakeout before continuing on to our accommodation at a lovely ecolodge on the edge of El Yunque National Forest.
We headed to Humacao and Fajardo on our final full day, spending most of our time exploring the Fajardo area. This was good for Antillean Crested Hummingbird and Green-throated Carib -- we even saw a baby carib being attended by an adult. In the afternoon, we walked in to El Yunque near our hotel, enjoying a reprisal of many of the island's endemic birds and even seeing some new things, like a Louisiana Waterthrush and a funky juvenile plumage of Puerto Rican Oriole that was new for both Pepe and me.
We birded a bit around Casa Cubuy and El Yunque in the morning of our sixth day together, enjoying the Loggerhead Kingbirds and Puerto Rican Spindalis off the porch at the lodge, but before long, we had to pack up and head back to San Juan to drop everyone off at the airport.
Pepe and I want to thank you all for joining us on this great circumnavigation of Puerto Rico. We had some fantastic birding and a really smooth trip overall, thanks in large part to your fun and flexible nature! We hope to see you out in the field again down the road.
Cheers, and good birding,
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Anas clypeata)
Puerto Rican Nightjar is one of the rock star birds of this tour, and we found several singing males in the southwest. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
WHITE-CHEEKED PINTAIL (Anas bahamensis)
MASKED DUCK (Nomonyx dominicus)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber)
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon lepturus)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens)
This Antillean Mango flared its purple tail and showed off its bright metallic gorget. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
This Loggerhead Kingbird defended its palm tree from us on the edge of El Yunque National Forest. Photo by participant Larry Wright.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (CARIBBEAN) (Accipiter striatus venator)
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (CARIBBEAN) (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) [*]
RED-TAILED HAWK (JAMAICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
CLAPPER RAIL (CARIBBEAN) (Rallus crepitans caribaeus)
SORA (Porzana carolina)
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus)
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
CARIBBEAN COOT (Fulica caribaea)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia)
Our experience with Puerto Rican Parrots at Rio Abajo would be hard to top! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla)
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
A stop near the baseball field in Comerío produced some good scope views of these Plain Pigeons. This species isn't endemic to Puerto Rico, but it's tough to see throughout its range in the Caribbean. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SCALY-NAPED PIGEON (Patagioenas squamosa)
WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)
PLAIN PIGEON (Patagioenas inornata wetmorei)
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
AFRICAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia roseogrisea) [I]
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina portoricensis)
KEY WEST QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon chrysia) [*]
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)
Adelaide's Warblers sang for us on both sides of the trail at Laguna Cartagena -- and offered some great views in the sparsely leafed trees. Photo by participant Larry Wright.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor)
PUERTO RICAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus vieilloti) [E]
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)
PUERTO RICAN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops nudipes) [E]
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
PUERTO RICAN NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus noctitherus) [E]
ANTILLEAN MANGO (Anthracothorax dominicus aurulentus)
GREEN MANGO (Anthracothorax viridis) [E]
GREEN-THROATED CARIB (Eulampis holosericeus)
PUERTO RICAN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon maugaeus) [E]
Some richly colored Caribbean Cave Swallows eyed us as they flew by. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
ANTILLEAN CRESTED HUMMINGBIRD (LESSER ANTILLES) (Orthorhyncus cristatus exilis)
PUERTO RICAN TODY (Todus mexicanus) [E]
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
PUERTO RICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes portoricensis) [E]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (EASTERN CARIBBEAN) (Falco sparverius caribaearum)
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [I]
PUERTO RICAN PARROT (Amazona vittata) [E]
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
CARIBBEAN ELAENIA (Elaenia martinica)
LESSER ANTILLEAN PEWEE (PUERTO RICO) (Contopus latirostris blancoi)
This male Antillean Euphonia showed us its blue cap from below eye level in the Maricao highlands. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
PUERTO RICAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus antillarum) [E]
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)
LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (PUERTO RICAN) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus taylori)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
PUERTO RICAN VIREO (Vireo latimeri) [E]
BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus)
CARIBBEAN MARTIN (Progne dominicensis)
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CAVE SWALLOW (CARIBBEAN) (Petrochelidon fulva puertoricensis)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
RED-LEGGED THRUSH (ARDOSIACEUS/ALBIVENTRIS) (Turdus plumbeus ardosiaceus)
We heard Puerto Rican Bullfinches at many of our forest stops, but it was a challenge to find one sitting out on an open song perch. That didn't stop participant Larry Wright from nailing a great photo of one.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
PEARLY-EYED THRASHER (Margarops fuscatus)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
ELFIN-WOODS WARBLER (Setophaga angelae) [E]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)
ADELAIDE'S WARBLER (Setophaga adelaidae) [E]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
BANANAQUIT (CARIBBEAN) (Coereba flaveola portoricensis)
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus bryanti)
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor omissus)
PUERTO RICAN BULLFINCH (Loxigilla portoricensis) [E]
PUERTO RICAN TANAGER (Nesospingus speculiferus) [E]
PUERTO RICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis portoricensis) [E]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
YELLOW-SHOULDERED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius xanthomus) [E]
GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger brachypterus)
A male Puerto Rican Spindalis sang from a close perch just off the porch at Casa Cubuy, the ecolodge where we stay near El Yunque. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)
PUERTO RICAN ORIOLE (Icterus portoricensis) [E]
VENEZUELAN TROUPIAL (Icterus icterus) [I]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
ANTILLEAN EUPHONIA (Euphonia musica sclateri)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
NORTHERN RED BISHOP (Euplectes franciscanus) [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
ORANGE-CHEEKED WAXBILL (Estrilda melpoda) [I]
BRONZE MANNIKIN (Spermestes cucullata) [I]
PIN-TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua macroura) [I]
Totals for the tour: 110 bird taxa and 0 mammal taxa