Endemic Birds of Cuba

A comprehensive field guide – including West Indian endemics residing in Cuba – by Nils Navarro.

168 pages (8.5″ x 5.5″) with original full color illustrations and photos by the author.

Separate Spanish and English editions.

Prologue by Dr. James W. Wiley.

Cover GUIA
 

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Important Birds of Cuba

(Courtesy of Nils Navarro)

Includes 25 endemic species as well as several other species of interest.

* indicates endemic to Cuba

1. *Gundlach’s Hawk (Gavilán Colilargo) Accipiter gundlachi Accipitridae

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Status IUCN: Endangered; CRL: Endangered.
A species of bird of prey. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened as a result of habitat loss in combination with its
very small and severely fragmented population.

2. *Cuban Black-Hawk (Gavilán Batista o Gangrejero) Buteogallus gundlachii Accipitridae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened; CRL: endangered.
Bird of prey which also includes the eagles, hawks and Old World vultures. It was formerly considered conspecific with Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus), but now is recognized as a distinct species by most authorities.

3. *Zapata Rail (Gallinuela de Santo Tomás) Cyanolimnas cerverai Rallidae

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Status IUCN: Critically Endangered; CRL: Critically Endangered. A medium-sized, plain, dark colored rail. It is the only member of monotypic genus Cyanolimnas and exists only in the Zapata region of Cuba. The Zapata Rail is confined and endemic to swamp and wetlands of Zapata in southern Cuba. Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size, limited range and predation by introduced species, the Zapata Rail is in danger of extinction.

4. *Gray-fronted Quail-Dove (Camao) Geotrygon caniceps Columbidae

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Status IUCN: Vulnerable.
Close cousin in Hispaniola of the White-fronted Quail-dove (Geotrygon leucometopia). Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, forest swamps, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and plantations. It is threatened by habitat loss.

5. *Blue-headed Quail-Dove (Paloma Perdiz) Starnoenas cyanocephala Columbidae

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Status IUCN: Endangered; CRL: Endangered.
Natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical swamps, and subtropical or tropical moist montanes. It is threatened by habitat loss.

6. *Cuban Parakeet (Catey) Aratinga euops Psittacidae

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Status IUCN: Vulnerable.
The Cuban Parakeet, Conure De Cuba, or Aratinga Cubana is is commonly known as Catey. It is now extinct on the Isle of Youth. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical wet forests (especially for the Eastern mountain populations), dry forests, dry savanna, and arable land. It is threatened by habitat loss.

7. Cuban Parrot (Cotorra) Amazona leucocephala Psittacidae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened; CRL: Vulnerable.
A subspecies of the Rose-throated Parrot that exists in the Bahamas and Grand Cayman Islands. It is found in woodlands, swamps, and dry forests of Cuba. It suffers from ongoing habitat loss, occasional natural disasters and capture.

8. Great Lizard-Cuckoo (Arriero) Coccyzus merlinii Cuculidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Distributed in a variety of forested and wooded areas in Cuba and the Bahamas. It’s olive-brown upper plumage and light grey breast changes to buff and rufous on the belly. The tail is very long and patterned black and white below. There are three subspecies in
Cuba. They feed on lizards, insects, frogs, snakes and birds eggs and nestlings.

9.*Cuban Screech-Owl or Bare-legged Owl (Sijú Cotunto) Gymnoglaux lawrencii Strigidae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened.
The only species in genus Gymnoglaux. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and heavily degraded former forests.

10. *Cuban Pygmy-Owl (Sijú Platanero) Glaucidium siju Strigidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.

The mature owl is about the size of a robin. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montanes, and heavily degraded former forests.

11. Greater Antillean Nightjar (Guabairo) Caprimulgus cubanensis Caprimulgidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Similar to the one found in Hispaniola. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montanes. This species was believed to be conspecific with Hispaniola’s Caprimulgus ekmani. Before the split, the species was named Greater Antillean Nightjar.

 

12. *Bee Hummingbird (Zunzuncito) Mellisuga helenae Trochilidae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened; Cuba Red List (CRL): Vulnerable. The smallest of all warm blooded animals. It weighs 1.8 grams (less than a dime). Its wings beat 80 times per second, and up to 200
times per second during courtship displays. Its heart rate is the second fastest of all animals. Bee hummingbirds also have the
fewest feathers of all birds. Their body temperature is 40°C (104°F), the highest of all birds.

13. Cuban Emerald (Hummingbird) (Zunzún) Chlorostilbon ricordii Trochilidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Distributed in the Bahamas as well as in Cuba. It is found in a variety of habitats from forests to gardens. It feeds on nectar and insects. Both sexes have a whitish spot behind the eye. The only other hummingbird in Cuba, apart from the occasional Ruby- throated Hummingbird in transit, is the tiny Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae).

14. *Cuban Trogon (Tocororo) Priotelus temnurus Trogonidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
The Cuban Trogon, in the Trogonidae family, is Cuba’s national bird
– its coloring representing the red, blue and white of the national flag. It is found in forests, especially near streams. It is shiny dark green above with a violet crown and nape. The wings are marked with blue, green, black and white. The “flared” shape of the tail is unique among trogons. It feeds by hovering. Its diet consists of nectar, fruit and insects.

15. *Cuban Tody (Cartacuba) Todus multicolor Todidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Of all todies, the Cuban Tody is the most colorful. It can only fly short distances with its rounded wings. They are often seen in pairs and mate in the spring. When nesting they dig a one inch tunnel with a chamber at the end in a clay embankment. The dwelling is covered in a thick glue-like substance mixed with grass, lichen, algae, small feathers and other materials that act as a sealant.

16. *Cuban Green Woodpecker (Carpintero Verde) Xiphidiopicus percussus Picidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
The Cuban Green Woodpecker is a species in the Picidae family. It
is monotypic within the genus Xiphidiopicus. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and heavily degraded former forests.

17. West Indian Woodpecker (Carpintero Jabado) Melanerpes superciliaris Picidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Distributed in Cuba, the Bahamas and Grand Cayman. It is found in forests, palm groves and mangroves. Both sexes have red nasal tufts but the male has a red crown and nape while the female only has red on the nape. It nests in holes that it excavates in dead trees and in live or dead palms. It feeds on insects, larvae, lizards and frogs as well as fruit.

18. *Fernandina’s Flicker (Carpintero Churroso o de Tierra) Colaptes fernandinae Picidae

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Status IUCN: Vulnerable; CRL: Vulnerable.
Rare and vulnerable. It prefers open forests with abundant palms; edges of savannas, and usually feeds on the ground, which is rare among members of this family.

19. Northern (Cuban) Flicker (Carpintero Escapulario) Colaptes auratus Picidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
The Cuban Flicker is a subspecies of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). The Cuban Flicker (Colaptes auratus chrysocaulosus) occurs in Cuba and Grand Cayman Island. Traits that distinguish the Cuban subspecies are the presence of a bright red nuchal (nape) patch (absent in others) and the color of the throat, ear-coverts, crown, and malar stripe. It occasionally feeds on the ground.

20. Cuban Pewee or Crescent-eyed Pewee (Bobito Chico) Contopus caribaeus Tyrannidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Found in Cuba and the northern Bahamas. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical montanes, and heavily degraded former forests.

21. La Sagra’s Flycatcher (Bobito Grande) Myiarchus sagrae Tyrannidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
A passerine in the tyrant flycatcher family. It breeds in Cuba, the Bahamas and Grand Cayman in the West Indies. It is normally a year round resident, however has been known as an occasional vagrant to southern Florida. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, mangrove forests, subtropical or tropical moist montanes, and heavily degraded former forests.

22. *Giant Kingbird (Pitirre Real) Tyrannus cubensis Tyrannidae

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Status IUCN: Endangered; CRL: Endangered.
Now restricted to Cuba having disappeared from the Bahamas. There are fewer than 1,000 individuals left. It is threatened by habitat loss. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical swamps, and open areas with scattered tall trees.

23. Thick-billed Vireo (Vireo de las Bahamas) Vireo crassirostris Vireonidae

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Status IUCN: Endangered; CRL: Vulnerable.
A small songbird. It breeds in Cuba and the Bahamas. It occasionally can be found as a vagrant in south Florida. This vireo frequents bushes and shrubs in tropical thickets. The grass-lined nest is a neat cup shape, attached to a fork in a tree or bush branch, usually with two to three dark-spotted white eggs. Both the male
and female incubate the eggs. The diet of this species consists almost exclusively of insects.

24. *Cuban Vireo (Juan Chivi) Vireo gundlachii Vireonidae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened.
Reasonably common in forests and woodland. Upperparts are dark olive-grey while underparts are pale yellow. There is a large creamy white crescent behind the pale brown eye. It shows one or two faint wing-bars.

25. Palm Crow (Cao Pinalero) Corvus palmarum minutus Corvidae

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Status IUCN: Vulnerable; CRT: Near threatened.
A relatively small black bird in the crow family. Formerly it was considered a close cousin to the Hispaniolan Palm Crow (Corvus palmarum), but now belongs to the same species. Its habitat is mainly open areas with scattered large trees commonly found in swamps or flooded areas of grass with palm trees.

26. Cuban Crow (Cao Montero o Cao) Corvus nasicus Corvidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
One of four species of crow that occur on a few key islands in the Caribbean. The White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalis), and the Jamaican Crow (Corvus jamaicensis) share similar features to the Cuban Crow and are very closely related to the Palm Crow. The Cuban Crow is sociable and is found in areas that have been cleared for agriculture. Its nest is built in tall trees, though little information about breeding is recorded as yet.

27. Cuban Martin (Golondrina Azul Cubana) Progne cryptoleuca Hirundinidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
A large swallow and a subspecies of the Caribbean Martin (Progne dominicensis). Cuban Martins are gregarious communal birds that hunt for insects in flight. Their call is a gurgly chew-chew. Migratory, common summer resident.

28. *Zapata Wren (Fermina o Ferminia) Ferminia cerverai Troglodytidae

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Status IUCN: Near threatened; CRL: Endangered.
Medium sized, grayish-brown, the Zapata Wren lives only in dense shrubs of the Zapata Swamp. It feeds on insects, spiders, small snails, lizards and berries. The wren typically makes its nest in sawgrass tussocks. It is thought to breed between January and July. Like most wrens, it is a skulker, which added to its preferred habitat, makes it quite difficult to see.

29. *Cuban Gnatcatcher (Sinsontillo) Polioptila lembeyei Polioptilidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry shrub land.

30. *Cuban Solitaire (Ruiseñor) Myadestes elisabeth Turdidae

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Status IUCN: Near-threatened; CRL: Vulnerable.
The Cuban Solitaire, is also known as the Cuban nightingale. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montanes. It is threatened by habitat loss.

31. Olive-capped Warbler (Bijirita del Pinar) Setophaga pityophila Parulidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Found in Cuba, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Its natural habitat is pine forests.

32. * Yellow-headed Warbler (Chillina) Teretistris fernandinae Incertae sedis

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
A species of the Teretistridae family (?), which is an endemic family. It exists only in western Cuba’s subtropical and tropical dry forests and subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests.

33. *Oriente Warbler (Pechero) Teretistris fornsi Incertae sedis

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montanes, and subtropical or tropical dry shrub land.

34. Western Spindalis (Cabrero) Spindalis zena Thraupidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Found only in Cuba, Bahamas, Grand Caymen and Cozumel. Each has its own subspecies. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, moist montanes, and heavily degraded former forests.

35. *Zapata Sparrow (Cabrerito de la Ciénaga) Torreornis inexpectata Emberizidae

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Status IUCN: Endangered; CRL: Endangered.
Three sub-species are found in different parts of the island only one of which, Torreornis inexpectata, is found in the Zapata Swamp. All three subspecies are similar but are found in very different habitats with the nominate found in the flooded saw-grass of the Zapata Swamp, Torreornis sigmani found in the thorn scrub and cacti of Guantánamo province and Torreornis varonai found in the dry forest and coastal vegetation of Cayo Coco.

36. *Cuban Grassquit (Tomeguín del Pinar) Tiaris canorus Emberizidae

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Status IUCN: Near threatened.
A finch common across Cuba and the Isle of Youth. Pugnacious, especially hostile while breeding, and especially so towards birds of the same species or with black and/or yellow plumage. The wild population is quickly declining due to capture.

37. Cuban Bullfinch (Negrito) Melopyrrha nigra Emberizidae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened; CRL: Near threatened.
Monotypic within the genus Melopyrrha. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, moist montane forests, and heavily degraded former forest. It is sometimes seen in the Cayman Islands near Cuba.

38. *Red-shouldered Blackbird (Mayito de Cíenaga) Agelaius assimilisi Icteridae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened; CRL: Vulnerable.
Distinct from continental forms in a number of important morphological and behavioral traits. It has been recognized as a separate species.

39. Eastern Meadowlark (Sabanero) Sturnella magna hippocrepis Icteridae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
This bird requires closer study, especially in light of the imminent splits among the Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) in North America. Cuba has the only population of Eastern Meadowlark in the Caribbean, and it is a resident, non-migratory subspecies, Sturnella magna hippocrepis. Its song is unlike any Eastern Meadowlark outside Cuba.

40. *Cuban Blackbird (Totí) Dives atroviolaceus Icteridae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, heavily degraded former forests, and other entropic and urban areas.

41. *Cuban Oriole (Solibio or Guainuba) Icterus melanopsis Icteridae

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Status IUCN: Not threatened.
Until recently the Cuban Oriole was considered part of the Greater Antillian Oriole. Its natural habitats are wooded areas, parks, farms, and populated areas.