Puerto Rico Birding Tours
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Taino people and discovered by the European nation of Spain in 1493, Puerto Rico has an incredible and rich history full of struggles and beauty. Today the island is an unincorporated territory of the United States, granting natives US citizenship but not the ability to vote in presidential elections and other privileges a typical US state might have. Perhaps we will see some changes in the coming years, however, as a US territory, travel here for folks from the mainland is a simple and short journey. The road system, infrastructure, and ease of travel makes Puerto Rico an ideal birding location for a week’s worth of birding adventures. Although Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles islands, it is still larger than both Rhode Island and Delaware at 3,515 square miles (9,104 square kilometers). With a population of 3.2 million people, Puerto Rico ranks 31st in the list of most populous states and territories in the US and welcomes more than 3 million tourists annually. Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment, certainly earns its name and is well worth the visit.
Puerto Rico boasts an impressive bird list with 388 species recorded, second only to Cuba in the Greater Antilles. Out of these 388 species, 17 of them are Puerto Rican endemic with many others considered highly desirable Caribbean specials. Some of the top highlights and targets of the region include Puerto Rican Tanager, the sole member of the monotypic Nesospingidae family, making it highly desirable for all birders and listers, the Critically Endangered (IUCN) endemic Puerto Rican Amazon, and the Endangered (IUCN) endemics of Puerto Rican Nightjar, Elfin Woods Warbler, and Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. Of course, there are many other beautiful Caribbean species to see on this enchanted paradise. We will circle the entire island on this seven-day tour searching for all 17 endemics and other specials including Plain Pigeon, Puerto Rican Tody, and Adelaide’s Warbler.
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Our Puerto Rico birding tour will begin in San Juan, the capital and by far the largest city in Puerto Rico. Some people may be interested in arriving a day or two early to really get a chance to explore the rich history of this impressive city, the oldest European-settled city in the United States. From San Juan we will head west across the northern coastline and then south to the town of La Parguera where we will call home for a few nights. From here we will explore amazing parks and preserves including Rio Abajo State Forest, Cambalache State Forest, Maricao Forest Reserve and Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. Top targets here include Puerto Rican Amazon, Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Yellow-shouldered Blackbird, Elfin Woods Warbler, Puerto Rican Tanager and Puerto Rican Tody. In the evenings we will of course make special efforts in pursuit of the endemic Puerto Rican Nightjar and Puerto Rican Owl. From here we will head back east along the southern coastline this time with special stops to search for more great species including Plain Pigeon, Puerto Rican Spindalis, Puerto Rican Oriole, and more. The last two nights will be spent near El Yunque National Forest in a local ecolodge. Here we will get the chance to search the eastern portions of the island in hopes of Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Adelaide’s Warbler and more!
All along our journey we will be close to the ocean and have the chance for many amazing waterbirds such as Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby, West Indian Whistling Duck, White-cheeked Pintail, and several shorebird species. In addition to the amazing resident species, in the winter months Puerto Rico plays host to many neotropical migrants, especially warblers like American Redstart, Palm, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white and Cape May Warblers, and Ovenbird.
We would love to have you join us on our comprehensive seven-day itinerary of Puerto Rico. While the Island of Enchantment is amazing, do not forget about the other island nations in this region! This tour can be combined with , Dominican Republic, and Jamaica for a complete Caribbean birding experience!
Birding Ecotours can also customize birding trips to any of these islands depending on your exact targets and needs. The best months to visit this region is November through March. Please reach out to us anytime and we’d be happy to arrange a Caribbean adventure perfectly suited to you and your goals!