I know this is over a year old but hopefully someone will find it useful. Thanks to some cheap airfares between Boston & San Juan I took an extended weekend of birding, concentrating on the islandís 17 endemics. I planned on spending most of the time in the southwest with at least one morning on the northeast for the two hummingbirds and parrot. As it turned out it was very successful, getting all of the island endemics and most of the endemic races.
Thanks to all the folks on Birdchat for their advice, the various trip report repositories and a special thanks to Mark Oberle for his help with some of the lesser-known birding sites. I used Herbert Raffaele et al field guide to the Birds of the
Friday 28th May:
We arrived around at
We were booked into the Holiday Inn on the west side of town. After dropping Gina off, I decided to check out the route to
Back on route 2 with over 20 minutes of daylight remaining, I decided to check out
Saturday, 29th May
Sunday, May 30th
As I still needed Puerto Rican Pewee I drove back up to Maracao before light. A Puerto Rican Screech Owl was calling as I walked along the entrance road down to the headquarters. An hour later I had had much better views of Puerto Rican Vireo (now I see why it has itís own genus), Puerto Rican Bullfinch & Puerto Rican Spindalis but no pewee. Just as I was thinking of driving to Hacienda Juanita I heard a pewee-like call and there, on the wires right next to my car was a Puerto Rican Pewee. I decided to give the grounds of the hacienda a quick check as well as along the road. Saw the same stuff except for a brief and unsatisfactory look at a probable Antillean Euphonia. Stopped at
we drove to the southern end
Despite having been up there three times including this morning,
With the key endemics for southeast
we headed east to Humacao via Guayama.
After lunch birded the Humacao
Refuge (not shown on any of the maps). The refuge headquarters are 3.1
east of the intersection between routes 3 and 53 on the right side.
the refuge headquarters are closed at
in winter (later in the summer), but there is access to the lagoons
the headquarters. Look for a well-trodden path lined with litter that
the park headquarters fence. This provides public access to the
the park headquarters are fenced off. Once you cross the sluices just
the headquarters there are a number of trails and ponds. The best
are the ponds to the right. This is another good spot for West Indian
Duck but not on this day, I did get a male Green-throated
Carib and a pair of Black-billed
Waxbills. I was surprised to hear
Mark had very
kindly given me a location for Yellow-breasted Crake at a remote part
refuge. From the refuge entrance return towards Humacao
on route 3 for 0.6 miles and turn right (north) on route 925. Drive 1.2
to a locked gate on the right (DRNA sign labeled Unidad
Mandri). Walk the dirt road about half a
sugar canes to more open marshes & ponds. Unfortunately, I did not
hear any rails but it was not a best time of the day.
Drove to Ceiba and stayed at the Ceiba Country Inn. This is set in the foothills
of El Yunque (
According to my research, the best location for the Puerto Rican Parrot was the higher elevations of the Tradewinds or El Toro trail that overlook the headwaters of the Rio Espiritu Santo and ideally to be there at first light. I did not think I would be able to find the trailheads in the dark so I elected to drive along route 186 on the northwest side of El Yunque and explore these trails from lower down. As it turned out there are a number of trails off this road and I took one which eventually led to a small waterfall but was not the start of the Tradewinds trail. I saw the usual set of higher elevation birds including great views of Scaly-naped Pigeons and Puerto Rican Vireos. On the way back I decided to stop at the Rio Espiritu overlook which in earlier times had been the classic site for the rare & threatened parrot. It may be overgrown but as I sat on the wall a single Puerto Rican Parrot emerged from the trees. I think I had disturbed it as it gave me the once-over before heading up the mountain.
I shot back to the hotel, grabbed breakfast, packed and drove down to Huamcao Refuge. At the headquarters I found Antillean Crested Hummingbird but West Indian Whistling Duck again eluded me. We started worked our way back to the
I tried to stay at the better know sites (e.g. Hacienda Juanita,
but they only offered package deals requiring a prolonged stay making
impractical & expensive. Holiday Inn on the outskirts of
We never had any trouble and found the people to be kind and
in the mountains, I felt I was back in the
List of Birds seen
E = Endemic
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps antillarum)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis)
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Great Egret (Ardea alba egretta)
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor ruficollis)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula brewsteri)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
Green Heron (Butorides virescens maculatus)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactii)
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis exilis)
White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis bahamensis)
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura aura)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus carolinensis) One at Mandri
unit of Humacao Refuge. Looked like the
race rather than the pale-headed
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis) A Greater Antillean subspecies.
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius caribaearum) A Lesser Antillean subspecies.
Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus cerceris)
Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea)
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Royal Tern (Sterna maxima)
Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa) Common at the higher elevations.
Plain Pigeon (Patagioenas inornata wetmorei) An endemic subspecies. Seen well at the escuela near Cidra/Comerio.
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura macroura) A Caribbean subspecies. One near Laguna Cartegena.
Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita zenaida)
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica asiatica)
Ringed Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia risoria) Introduced. A pair in La Parguera.
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina portoricensis) A Lesser Antillean subspecies.
Key West Quail-Dove (Geotrygon chrysia)
Prolonged views of
one on trail that goes behind the
Ruddy Quail-Dove (Geotrygon
E Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata vittata) One individual at the Rio Espiritu Santo overlook. I got the impression that the bird had been perched (roosting) in a nearby tree as it appeared to fly out of one of the trees that overshadow the road. How lucky can you get!
Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor) Remarkably common in non-mangrove habitats.
E Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo (Saurothera vieilloti) Heard at Guanica SP and seen along trail that goes behind
Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)
E Puerto Rican Screech-Owl (Megascops nudipes nudipes) Heard most
Antillean Nighthawk (Chordeiles gundlachii) Common along the south coast.
E Puerto Rican Nightjar (Caprimulgus noctitherus) Seen at
Black Swift (Cypseloides
Antillean Mango (Anthracothorax dominicus)
subspecies. Seen around
E Green Mango (Anthracothorax viridis)
Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus) Found at the eastern side of the island. Seen at Humacao & El Yunque.
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus) Again, more common on the eastern side of the island. One at Humacao Refuge headquarters.
E Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus) Common and undoubtedly the bird of the trip.
E Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis) Common.
Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica martinica) At Guanica SP.
E Puerto Rican Pewee (Contopus portoricensis) Just one at the entrance to Maracao SP.
E Puerto Rican Flycatcher (Myiarchus antillarum) At Guanica SP.
Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis dominicensis) Common.
Loggerhead Kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus taylori) One near the Maracao SP headquarters.
Caribbean Martin (Progne dominicensis dominicensis)
Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva puertoricensis)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos orpheus)
Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus fuscatus) Common, noisy and showy. Nothing like its North American relatives.
Red-legged Thrush (Turdus plumbeus ardosiaceus) Only seem well on the road up to Maracao SP.
E Puerto Rican Vireo (Vireo latimeri) Seen best at Maracao SP.
Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus altiloquus) Common and calling all day
E Adelaide Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae) Common in the drier habitats of Guanica, Huamaco across to the foothills of the Caribbean NF.
E Elfin-woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae) Probably the number one endemic for many people. Took me all of 20 minutes to see my first.
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola portoricensis) An endemic subspecies. Common.
Yellow-faced Grassquit (Tiaris olivacea bryanti)
Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor omissus)
E Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis portoricensis) Seen best at higher altitudes.
E Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus xanthomus) Highly localized and threatened by cowbirds. Strange to see such a rare bird in the artificially-maintained habitat of a hotel. I did see more from the lookout near Cabo Rojo.
Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis minimus)
Venezuelan Troupial (Icterus icterus) One at the gates to Guanica SP.
Greater Antillean Oriole (Icterus dominicensis portoricensis) Pair prospecting around the Maracao SP headquarters.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) This and the birds below are all introduced.
Yellow-crowned Bishop (Euplectes afer)
Red/Orange Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus)
Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda)
Black-rumped Waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes) A pair near Huamacao Refuge headquarters.
White-throated Munia (Lonchura malabarica)
Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata)