Birding

The diminutive Cuban pygmy owl lives exclusively on Cuba, but they make their homes in a variety of forest habitats across the Caribbean island. The IUCN Red List classifies this species as one of Least Concern, which means there is a healthy number of these endemic  winged creatures living all over the island of Cuba. So there's a good chance you'll spot at least one of these tiny birds when you join IE’s people-to-people Cuba tour.

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The Northern horned screamer is a large bird that doesn’t quite fit in with other species…in fact; there are only three species in their family Anhimidae. Northern horned screamers live in aquatic areas with lots of emergent vegetation and when walking on water lettuce or hyacinth, look like a very large goose.  Their feet, however are not webbed, but they have fairly heavy long toes that support their weight on the floating mats of vegetation. 

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In January, Jim Smith joined IE to travel to Cuba. Jim commemorated his experience with a series of poems, which he has graciously agreed to share. Read other entries here.

flitting branch to branch
sipping nectar ceaselessly
rare “bee hummingbird”

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An amazing fact in regards to the great egret, also known as the common egret: Not only is this a common bird in the Peruvian Amazon, but it is also a common resident over much of the United States.  Often, however, on ecotours, guests seem to be quite enamored by the 3 ½ foot tall birds not realizing that it’s the same bird they may have seen in their own home state!

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The harpy eagle is one of the most powerful predators in the Amazon and one of the largest eagle species in the world. This winged hunter preys on monkeys, sloths, reptiles, rodents and other birds, and the sight of a harpy eagle snatching a monkey from a tree branch with ease is one you won't soon forget if you're lucky enough to witness it on International Expeditions’ Amazon river cruises.

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Bird lovers planning to join International Expeditions’ Costa Rica ecotours will relish their time in Sarapiquí. The Sarapiquí region of Costa Rica's Heredia province is one of the few remaining locations where travelers can see the great green macaw. Keep your eyes on the trees to catch a glimpse of a macaw's nest, and listen for their crow-like call.

December 10, 2012

Cuba's Bee Hummingbird

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Who said birds had to be big to be spectacular? There is a wide variety of flying creatures in Cuba, but one of the best is so small that you might mistake it for an insect. The bee hummingbird is only slightly heavier than a paperclip, and at just over two inches in length, could perch comfortably on your thumb. The male claims the title of the smallest bird in the world.

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Cuba has two endemic species of woodpecker, but the one you're most likely to see on International Expeditions’ people-to-people Cuba travel program has a rather royal look. The Cuban green woodpecker dons a crown of red feathers atop its head, and its eyes are striped with white. The rest of its body is cloaked in green feathers, with bright, vibrant yellow coloring underneath. It's smaller than most species of woodpecker, and has a shorter bill, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in its gorgeous coloring.

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A guest on People-to-People Cuba program wrote some poems about his experience and graciously agreed to share them—all are accounts of Cuba seen through the eyes of birds. James Blackburn's poetry includes stars of Cuba's endemic bird species: the Cuban emerald hummingbird, the limkin, the Cuban tody and the red legged thrush.

 

The Cuban Trogon
by James Blackburn

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The hamerkop (scopus umbretta) is a small bird standing about two feet tall that is often thought to belong to the stork or heron family, but is distinctly different than both of these species. These unique birds can be found in sub-Saharan Africa, so you may spot them on your next East Africa safari.

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