<< PUERTO RICO BIRDING TOURS
A Birding Tour to Puerto Rico is the best choice for a fantastic introduction to the Caribbean bird fauna. Don't miss our birdwatching trips!
Puerto Rico ("Borinquen") is the smallest of the four large islands of the West Indies. It is located in the easternmost extreme of the Greater Antilles chain. The island is mountainous and the Cordillera Central dominates the topography, with Cerro de Punta (4,390 ft/1,338 m) being the highest point. Puerto Rico has a high degree of plant and animal endemism, the result of evolution on an isolated island. This is reflected in its birdlife: out of about 379 species, 17 are endemic (excluding the Puerto Rican Parakeet which is extinct in historical times), 11 are subspecies only found in this small archipelago, while still others are endemic to the Antillean Subregion. One family, Nesospingidae, represented by the Puerto Rican Tanager (or Llorosa), is endemic to the Puerto Rican archipelago. One hundred twenty species regularly breed in Puerto Rico, and during migration it is visited by additional bird species (see Bird Checklist).
WILLIAM SUAREZ BIRDING TOURS offers ornithological survey programs to this beautiful island, providing magnificent opportunities to explore the unique and varied insular habitats of the West Indies. Our birding itineraries in Puerto Rico (see map) visit localities with the highest biodiversity and therefore richness of avifauna, both in terms of endemism and species numbers in most habitats. We will be birding in montane rainforests, elfin woods, mangrove swamps, dry coastal scrub forests, lakes, and along coastlines. Some early morning starts are necessary and there is a night (or more) birding session as well. Each tour begins and ends in the capital city of San Juan, located in the northeastern part of the main island.
Main Localities: 1) Fajardo, 2) Humacao, 3) Aguas Buenas, 4) Laguna Tortuguero, 5) Río Abajo, 6) Guánica, 7) Susúa, 8) Maricao, 9) La Parguera, 10) Laguna Cartagena, 11) Cambalache
DAY 1: Welcome to our Birding Tours to Puerto Rico
Arrival and transfer from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. We will be waiting for you at the airport for your transportation to the hotel, where members of the group will check into their reserved rooms. At 6:00 p.m. participants will meet the leader in the lobby for a welcome meeting and discussion of trip plans before dinner. Night in San Juan.
DAY 2: The Eastern Region (Fajardo, Humacao, & Aguas Buenas)
This morning we will drive southeast to search the Fajardo area in the easternmost part of the island. Our main objective is to see the two hummingbirds restricted to this region: Green-throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird. After our search for these species at our first stop, we will go to the Humacao wetlands. This is a beautiful site — freshwater, brackish, and saltwater ponds and lagoons — and home to some endangered species such as the West Indian Whistling-Duck.
Our morning explorations at Humacao will provide good views of some species such as Mangrove Cuckoo, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Red-legged Thrush, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, the endemic subspecies of Bananaquit, Yellow-faced Grassquit, and Greater Antillean Grackle, among others.
After lunch we will drive northwest to get our views of the endemic subspecies of Plain Pigeon (Patagioenas inornata wetmorei), which is found west to Aguas Buenas. After finishing the birding session in the late afternoon, we return to the capital city. Night in San Juan.
DAY 3: Laguna Tortuguero & Río Abajo
In the morning we will drive to the northwest and along the north coast road to explore the freshwater lagoon Laguna Tortuguero where several aquatic birds and other species such as Ruddy Quail-Dove, Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo, Antillean Mango, Puerto Rican Vireo, Caribbean Martin, and Adelaide's Warbler, among other West Indian specialties and endemics, can be found.
In the afternoon we will drive to the southwest, to visit Río Abajo State Forest. A visit to this beautiful locality is a must, because located here is the Vivaldi Aviary, home of the captive breeding program for the critically endangered Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata). The probability of seeing free flying released birds is low, but not impossible, as we have had several sightings at this location. Other possible species in this locality are Key West Quail-Dove, Puerto Rican Tody, Lesser Antillean Pewee, Loggerhead Kingbird, Puerto Rican Spindalis, and Puerto Rican Bullfinch, among others. After our birding session in the afternoon we will drive to the southwestern coast of the island. Night near Guánica.
DAY 4: The Southwestern Region (Punta Cuchara, Guánica, La Parguera, & Laguna Cartagena)
A pre-breakfast birding session, before sunrise, will be conducted at the locality of Punta Cuchara (near Ponce) where we will be searching for the rare endemic Puerto Rican Nightjar. After our search we return to the hotel for our breakfast. From here, we began our ornithological explorations of the southwestern part of the island, which is drier than the eastern portion with a higher diversity of birds. In this region, we will visit dry forest, wetlands, and coastal habitats.
After breakfast we will drive to Guánica State Forest. In this dry forest, a World Biosphere Reserve consisting of relict subtropical dry coastal forest formerly widespread in Puerto Rico, we will search for Puerto Rican endemic bird species, including Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo, Puerto Rican Owl, Puerto Rican Emerald, Puerto Rican Tody, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Puerto Rican Vireo, Adelaide's Warbler, and Puerto Rican Bullfinch. Also possible are Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, White-winged Dove, Zenaida Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Mangrove Cuckoo, Antillean Mango, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Caribbean Elaenia, Lesser Antillean Pewee, Northern Mockingbird, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Bananaquit, Greater Antillean Grackle, Venezuelan Troupial, and others.
In the afternoon, we will explore a locality covered by mangrove wetlands, La Parguera, home of the endemic, endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. After our search for this species, we will also search Laguna Cartagena, which is a wildlife refuge, with diverse birdlife such as waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds including West Indian Whistling-Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Great Egret, Green Heron, Glossy Ibis, Sora,Yellow-breasted Crake, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, and others. Additional species in the nearby habitats include Mangrove Cuckoo, Bananaquit, Black-faced Grassquit, Greater Antillean Grackle and some introduced and well-established taxa such as the beautiful Venezuelan Troupial and Orange Bishop. Night near Guánica.
DAY 5: The Mountain Ranges (Susúa & Maricao)
Early in the morning we will depart the dry coast for the wet montane and cloud forest habitats in Susúa and Maricao State Forests, reserves in the mountain range of western Puerto Rico. This morning we search Susúa State Forest where the Key West Quail-Dove, Puerto Rican Tody, Caribbean Elaenia, and Pearly-eyed Thrasher occur.
In the afternoon, our birding session will be in Maricao State Forest. This locality is home to endemic and rare species such as the relatively recently discovered and described Elfin-woods Warbler. Also occurring in this locality are Green Mango, Puerto Rican Emerald, Puerto Rican Spindalis, Puerto Rican Tanager, Puerto Rican Oriole, Antillean Euphonia, and other endemics and specialties. A very rare Puerto Rican endemic subspecies of Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus venator) is also possible. We will wait here the sunset for our view of the Puerto Rican Owl. Night near Guánica.
DAY 6: The Northwestern Coastal Region
We will leave early in the morning and move to the northwestern corner of the island to explore the elevated coastal area between Barceloneta and Isabela for seabirds including White-tailed Tropicbird, which is possible at this time of the year. Brown Booby, Magnificent Frigatebird, gulls, and terns are also possible. In the afternoon our itinerary will be flexible depending of the time available. If time permits we can explore additional localities in northern Puerto Rico (e.g., Cambalache). After the birding session, we will drive east to San Juan for our last night. Night in San Juan.
DAY 7: Departure & "Hasta Luego" (Good-bye) to Puerto Rico
Day of transfer from the hotel to the International Airport Luis Muñoz Marín (SJU), for departures of the members of the group.
Alterations in Tour Itineraries: Owing to a variety of circumstances, a planned itinerary as appears on this website, can be changed or modified locally by the leader to accommodate particular weather conditions, bird activity, human disturbances, unexpected situations, or any other reasons considered by the leader. WILLIAM SUAREZ BIRDING TOURS reserves the right to change any itinerary.