While traveling to a big city like Havana may give you a chance to sample Cuba’s music and art, journeying outside to the countryside when you travel to Cuba on International Expeditions’ “Complete Cuba” tour gives you a chance to experience the nature of this once-forbidden island. Though there aren't many mammals in Cuba, there are numerous endemic species of birds. One of the most brilliant, both in color and intelligence, is the Cuban parrot, also known as the Cuban Amazon.
The bird's beautiful looks
Though these birds are less common than some others you'll see on your people-to-people Cuba travel program, knowing what they look like will come in handy when pointing your binoculars to the sky. Cuban parrots are large and predominately green, with spots of red around their chin and throat. Their forehead is white, and when their wings are spread, you'll see the feathers on their wing are a vibrant blue. They have a noisy call, so if you heard a loud squeaking, you may want to train your eyes on the treetops nearby.
The bird's lovely lifestyle
Though the bird once flourished on the island of Cuba, it is now restricted to a few areas. The best chance you'll have of seeing them is probably on Zapata Peninsula, where the bird is still common. These colorful birds thrive on berries and fruit, and are known to be quite intelligent. They are excellent imitators, and have even been known to mimic dogs, chickens and other sounds they hear.
The bird's sad story
Unfortunately, several factors have caused this bird to face endangerment. Their beautiful coloring and unique behavior made them popular household pets, and many were trapped and sold illegally. Additionally, housing developments have contributed to a loss of habitat for the Cuban parrot.
The bird's happy ending
Fortunately, Cuban officials and natives treasure the bird, and have thus put protections in place to help the animal thrive once again. Though it's still a work in progress, artificial nests have been put in place in Cuba, and education campaigns about the bird's plight have helped foster respect for these magnificent creatures.