Birding

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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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Many of us living in the United States — especially in the central states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas — are very familiar with a long-tailed bird called a scissor-tailed flycatcher. They are often observed on fences, light posts and other exposed places where they scan the air for flying insects, upon which they feed. In the Southern Hemisphere, there is a counterpart of the scissor-tailed flycatcher called a fork-tailed flycatcher. Amazingly, this species has even longer tail feathers — so long that it is a wonder that these birds can even fly!

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On your next Costa Rica ecotour with International Expeditions keep an eye out for the shining honeycreeper. This diminutive tanager is found throughout Central America and in parts of Colombia, and is easily recognizable due to its prominent royal blue coloration.

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Paradise tanagers are as colorful as parrots and just as plentiful in the Amazon rainforests and throughout northern regions of South America. These small birds are prized by birders, and you can see one of the subspecies on your next Amazon cruise. These creatures travel in mixed-species groups of about five to 20, but rarely remain in one spot for very long.

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The plants and animals found on Galapagos that helped Darwin form his Theory of Evolution are exactly what makes a Galapagos cruise unforgettable. There are many endemic birds on the archipelago, including the Galapagos flycatcher. This small bird is also called the large-billed flycatcher even though its bill is not that big in size compared to the bird itself.

September 04, 2012

The Cuban Emerald Hummingbird

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This poem about the Cuban Emerald Hummingbird was shared by James Blackburn, a guest on our recent People-to-People Cuba trip.

 

The Cuban Emerald Hummingbird
by James Blackburn

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Not far from colonial Trinidad lies the Sierra de Escambray, one of the most mountainous regions in all of Cuba. Housed within this area is the Topes de Collantes National Park, which offers travelers one of the best spots to take in some of Cuba’s endemic wildlife and landscapes. The park offers a little bit of everything, which is perfect when traveling with International Expeditions’ small-groups of both causal nature enthusiasts and avid birders.

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The animals found in Africa are often unlike any other creatures in the world, and this goes for birds as well as mammals. The grey crowned crane is a shining example of distinct African birds, as its unusual features make it stand out in the African wetlands and the minds of travelers who see and hear the bird in action.

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