Cuba Bird Survey January 2018


January 8 to 18, 2018
Optional 4-day extension to January 22 for Havana International Jazz Festival      

Click here for a report from this survey.

Note: A valid passport with expiration date at least 6 months beyond travel dates is required.
 This trip is not affected by recent US-Cuba travel restrictions.

You are invited to join Dr. David La Puma, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory on an exclusive, US led and managed birding program to Cuba!  The program is managed by the Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT), wihich is based in Connecticut.  In early 2017, CCT began their 21st year of managing bird conservation and natural history programs in Cuba.  Along with David, our team will include Cuban biologist and museum curator Dr. Giraldo Alayon, a bilingual Cuban tour leader and local naturalists, visiting 4 different birding regions.  They will guide you through some of the best bird habitat in Cuba, the Caribbean's largest ad most ecologically diverse island nation.

CCT designed this itinerary to take you to Cuba’s finest bird habitats, most beautiful national parks, diverse biosphere reserves, and unique natural areas. We will interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation. In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit. Finally, and especially given the ongoing changes in U.S. – Cuban relations, we can expect some degree of inquiry into fascinating aspects of Cuban culture, history, and daily living during our visit.

Cuba’s Birds
According to BirdLife International, which has designated 28 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Cuba, “Over 370 bird species have been recorded in Cuba, including 27 which are endemic to the island and 29 considered globally threatened. Due to its large land area and geographical position within the Caribbean, Cuba represents one of the most important countries for Neotropical migratory birds – both birds passing through on their way south (75 species) and those spending the winter on the island (86 species).“

Our itinerary provides opportunities to see many of Cuba’s endemic species and subspecies, as listed below. This trip will also focus on the many neotropical migrant species that migrate south to Cuba in the fall (endemic species and endemic subspecies in italics):

Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Oriole, Bee Hummingbird, Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Gray-fronted Quail-Dove, Cuban Black Hawk, Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Bullfinch, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Parrot, Cuban Pewee, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Vireo, Fernandina’s Flicker, Giant Kingbird, Gundlach’s Hawk, Eastern Meadowlark, Cuban Nightjar, Redshouldered Blackbird, Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, Oriente Warbler, Yellow-headed Warbler, Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, Cuban Crow, Palm Crow, Cuban Emerald, Bahama Mockingbird, Thick-billed Vireo, & Western Spindalis.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has provided a license for conducting bird conservation work in Cuba to the Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT), a U.S. based organization committed to the conservation of endemic and migratory birds and their habitats in the greater Caribbean region. The primary objective of CCT is to enhance the ability of North American and Caribbean ornithologists, naturalists, resource managers, conservation organizations, institutions, and local citizens to conduct research and initiate programs to help conserve the birds of the Caribbean and their habitats. CCT is dedicated to bird and habitat conservation through education and relationship building and, is in compliance with U.S. Treasury licensure for travel to Cuba.


PACE, WEATHER AND TRAVEL CONDITIONS: This program offers opportunities for several days of ambitious birding, early departure times on birding days, and occasional evening sessions.  Birding days may provide leisure time after lunch and before our afternoon birding sessions.  Physical exertion will be light to moderate most days, with the longest walks approximately 3 miles.  Terrain is mostly flat and dry, with some hills present in western Cuba.  Participants should be in reasonably good physical condition and prepared for strong sun, with temperatures in the mid 70s to 90s.  Mosquitoes can be bothersome in Cavo Coco and the Zapata Region.  Although unlikely, rain may occur as well, so bring adequate rain gear.  Those with medical concerns should check with their physician before taking part in the program.

Tour size is limited to 14 participants.

Additional details:  Following registration, we will provide all participants with a bird list as well as details with regard to travel to Cuba, including all of the basics you need to know about travel documents, Cuba visa, customs, facts about Cuba, currency, health and safety, food, flights, and what to bring.  U.S. Government authorization documents and bird checklist will be provided following receipt of your final balance.

Additional information about the tour, with specific meeting times, a list of participants, addresses of motels, lists of things to bring, a reading list, a list of probable/possible birds, further information about weather, dress, etc., will be mailed to all participants well in advance of the tour.  This tour is being offered in partnership with Caribbean Conservation Trust.

DATES: Monday, January 08 to Thursday, January 18, 2018 (optional extension to Monday, January 22, 2018 - with flights home on January 22)

PRICE: Cost for this tour is $5,895 per person based on double occupancy; single supplement (if you request single occupancy, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you) is $575. A deposit of $700 will hold your place until October 7, 2017 when full payment becomes due.
Extension option Cost (4 nights accommodation and breakfast) is $ 650.00 per person sharing , with an additional $175.00 single supplement.

Not Included:
 Travel to Havana, Cuba; Cuban Visa ($100) and Cuban health insurance (required by law and $3 per day); items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, additional beverages, bar and housekeeping tips, etc., airport departure taxes ($30 departing Cuba); US passport fees, meals or accommodations outside of Cuba, and other fees not listed in the program.  Cost estimates are as of December, 2016 and are subject to change.

Download Tour Registration Form here


NJ Audubon Eco-Travel
c/o Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 400-3852
Please make checks payable to New Jersey Audubon


by email to travel@njaudubon.org


Dr. David La Puma: David La Puma is the director of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory, and an avid birdwatcher with over 20 years experience in the Neotropics.  David received his PhD from Rutgers University where he studied the Effects of Fire on the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in the Florida Everglades.  Since then, David's research has focused on migrant songbird conservation, and specifically how we can use radar to quantify stopover habitat of nocturnal migrant songbirds.  A native of Miami, Florida, David has dreamed of visiting Cuba since he was a child.  Also an avid jazz fan, David is very much looking forward to leading this inaugural trip to Havana during the Havana International Jazz Festival.

Our Cuban Naturalists  
CCT works with a very competent team of biologists, museum curators and naturalists in Cuba.  Our fulltime Cuban biologist and primary Cuban birding guide will be with us throughout the tour in the field to assist in finding and identifying birds, as well as providing a broad overview of Cuban natural history.  Additionally, we will work with regional naturalists from the national parks and biosphere reserves that we visit. 

~~ Photos courtesy Caribbean Conservation Trust  (Cuban Emerald, Cuban Grassquit, Old Havana)

For tour itineraries, to register, or for more information contact:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel at: (609)-400-3852
c/o NJ Audubon Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
or email