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Republic of Suriname

Piculet
Arrowhead Piculet Picumnus minutissimus ©Martin Reid Website

Birding Suriname

Suriname is a part of the Guyanese shield, between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers. It is for a large part covered with Amazonian rainforest. The country has some excellent birding places that are easily and safely accessible. Several national parks and nature reserves can be visited and several organisations organize trips to places in the interior, where one can also visit local villages. Most of these trips are by plane and so will cost several hundred dollars. The coastal area and the neighbouring savannas can best be visited with a rented car, and places near the capital, Paramaribo by taxi.

One of the best place for birders to visit is the Ralleigh Falls / Voltzberg Nature Reserve. Its checklist has more than 480 species. It is part of a larger reserve that is, unfortunately, mostly inaccessible; the Central Suriname Nature Reserve being about 150kms by 70kms. This unspoiled rainforest reserve has many large birds, such as Ara Parrots, birds of prey, including the Harpy eagle, and gamebirds.

In the vicinity of Voltzberg are open areas with many hummingbirds, tanagers and parrots visiting the flowers and fruit trees at the edge of the forest. A research station with room for 20 hammocks open for tourists has been constructed near the Voltzberg, a granite outcrop with a height of 240 meters (Suriname is a mainly flat country, so this is high above the surroundings) which means you are in the best place at the beginning and end of the day. Besides birds there are many mammals to be seen, including eight species of monkey. The trip to Ralleigh Falls is best made by boat (several hours must be endured out in the open sun); but it can be made by plane.

Other great birding areas include Brownsberg Nature Park, just 100 km south of the capital, with its very wet rainforest and special fauna because of its 500m asl height and the savannas near the airport of Zandery and on the southern border with Brazil, the Sipaliwini savanna (although a trip to the latter can be costly).

The coastal areas are very flat and have many marshes. Many waterbirds can be found here and, along the road to the west are many places are of interest to birders, especially in the early morning. Other areas of interest include town parks like the Cultuurtuin and an old coffee plantation named Peperpot as well as any of the less populated areas of the country.

All these places are safely accessible. All months are great for birding trips, but the weather at the height of the wet season (June) makes trips by car more difficult, because the road conditions are not at their best.

One of the best birding books is the recently (2018) revised ‘Field guide to the birds of Suriname’. ‘Birds of Suriname’, by Haverschmidt and Mees (1994), is excellent but is too large to use in the field. Alternative field guides to use are the Birds of Venezuela by de Schauensee and Phelps, together with a guide on the birds of eastern North America for the many North American migrants.

Top Sites

Brownsberg Nature Park

Webpage

Satellite View

The Brownsberg Nature Park is easy to reach by car, being just 100 km south of the capital. It is covered with very wet rainforest and has a special bird fauna because of its 500 meter height (The highest place in Suriname is just over 1100 meters). Here you have a fairly good chance to see a very rare bird, only known from three hilltops in the east of Suriname, some places in French Guiana and Amapa: The White-throated pewee. Gamebirds are recovering here after a period in which the park was not well guarded. Small houses are available for rent on the top through Stinasu.

Coastal Marshes

Satellite View

The coastal area of about 40km wide near Paramaribo and about 100km wide in the west of the country is very flat and has many marshes. There are some good places to see birds along the coast, such as Weg Naar Zee (20km west from the centre of Paramaribo); a rural area along a road towards the seaboard. The sea is muddy and the mudflats harbour a lot of herons and other wading birds. The Bigi Pan area in the west of the coutry, near New Nickerie is famous for Scarlet Ibis. Many waterbirds can be found in its shallow marshes. Along the road to the west many places are of interest to birders, especially in the early morning.

Savanna

Satellite View

The savanna near the airport of Zandery has many good spots for observing savanna birds, one of the best is Hannover savanna just to the north of the airport. Also other places around the airport and on the road south of Zandery, in the direction of Brownsberg are very quiet and can be beautiful and full of birds in the morning and evening. More savannas and pieces of remaining forest can be found along this road. Deep in the south is a savanna ot the border with Brazil, the Sipaliwini savanna. It has many special birds including large birds such as storks. It is a great place for birding, but a trip is difficult to organize.

Town Parks & Plantations

Satellite View

Near Paramaribo, easy to visit and full of birds, are places such as the Cultuurtuin (a park in the town, 2km from its centre) and Peperpot, an old coffee plantation just across the Suriname river. In Peperot you can see the near endemic Blood-colored Woodpecker and the Guianan (Arrowhead) Piculet. Near Lelydorp, a village 25km to the south of Paramaribo, there are many roads leading into less populated areas which are also good for birding.

Voltzberg Nature Preserve & Ralleigh Falls

Information

Satellite View

Voltzberg Nature Reserve and has a checklist of more than 460 species. It is part of a larger reserve that is, unfortunately, mostly inaccessible; the Central Suriname Nature Reserve of about 150 by 70 kilometers. This unspoiled rainforest reserve has many large birds, such as Parrots, birds of prey, [including the Harpy eagle] and gamebirds like the White-headed Piping-guan and the Black Curassow. Most famous is the lek of the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, it sometimes has more than 50 males dancing like orange flames in the green forest. Of course there are many small birds (antbirds, flycatchers) that are best recognised by their sound. The Voltzberg area has open areas with many hummingbirds, tanagers and parrots visiting the flowers and fruit trees at the edge of the forest. A research station with room for 20 hammocks open for tourists has been made near the Voltzberg granite outcrop that allows you to be in the best place at the beginning and end of the day.

Contributor

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 752

(As at December 2018)

Endemics

Number of endemics: 1

Arrowhead Piculet Picumnus minutissimus

Checklist

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Suriname

By OH Ottema, JHJM Ribot & AL Spaans | Vrienden van Stinasu | 2009 | Paperback | 144 pages, 2 colour maps |

ISBN: 9789991470221

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Northern South America

(Volume 1: Species Accounts An Identification Guide) | By Robin Restall, Clemencia Rodner & Miguel Lentino | Christopher Helm | 2006 | Paperback | NB Volume 1 text, Volume 2 has all the plates.

ISBN: 0713639091

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname

By Arie L Spaans, Otte H Ottema, Jan Hein JM Ribot, & Ber van Perlo | E J Brill | 2015 } 2nd Edition Paperback | 634 pages, 109 plates with colour illustrations; 41 colour photos, b/w illustrations, and colour maps; 10 tables |

ISBN: 9789004352315

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Foundation for Nature Preservation in Surinam (STINASU)

Website

The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, STINASU, is the leading and authoritative nature protection organization which delivers a substantial contribution to the protection of the Suriname exiting nature (monuments) by supporting scientific research, nature education and nature tourism….

Oceanic Society

Website

The interior of Suriname is largely uninhabited and covered with undisturbed Neotropical Amazonian forest. Four broad ecological zones contribute to Suriname`s forest diversity providing habitat for 674 species of birds and 200 species of mammals.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

NR Bigi Pan Nature Preserve

Information

Satellite View

Located in the western part of the Suriname estuarine zone, the area extends to the Atlantic Ocean to a depth of 6m at low tide. The landscape is flat (0-5m above sea level) and is dominated by extensive mud flats and areas of standing water, including a mud flat up to 3km wide that extends along much of the area. This is also an important area for breeding, migration and wintering of waterfowl of a wide variety of species. The area is considered to be internationally important for at least 16 species.

NR Brownsberg Nature Park

Information

Satellite View

The site measures 12,000 ha and is located in the district of Brokopondo around 130 km south from the capital city Paramaribo. The 500 meter high Brownsberg is the central point of the park. The site is located near the Brokopondo Reservoir. The park is managed by STINASU. It has around 50 species of birds.

NR Central Suriname (Coppename)

Information

Satellite View

Saramacca; 12,000 ha; Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve; Nature Reserve. A wetland complex on a young coastal plain of sand and shell ridges alternating with swamps, dominated by mudflats with mangrove forests on high ground. Inland, saline and brackish lagoons have developed supporting halophytic (salt tolerant) vegetation. An internationally important area for breeding birds, up to 3,000 pairs of herons, egrets and passage and wintering waterbirds. Impressive numbers of Eudocimus ruber and Calidris pusilla gather at the site. There is limited ecotourism in the reserve and low-level subsistence use by fishermen. Ramsar site no. 304.

NR Wia-Wia Nature Preserve

Information

Satellite View

The estuary of the River Marowijne and approximately 50 km of coast between the Suriname river and the Marowijne River. The area is characterized by broad intertidal mudflats and fringing mangrove swamps and sandbeaches; bordered inland by a belt of shallow fresh to hypersaline lagoons and swamps, areas of seasonally flooded savannas and swamp forest. The mudflats and the swamps are important for numerous migratory shorebirds breeding or stopping over in North America; more than 100,000 shorebirds have been counted during an aerial survey (fall 2004). It is also an Endemic Bird Area due to the common occurrence of three range-restricted species: Guyanan Piculet, Blood-colored Woodpecker, and Rufous Crabhawk.

Protected Areas of Suriname

Information

There are several Protected Areas of Suriname. The largest of these is the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The protected areas are managed by the Suriname Forest Service. The Forest Service has appointed STINASU (Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname), a non-profit foundation, to develop and conduct the educational and tourist aspects in the protected areas.

Ramsar Sites

Webpage

Suriname currently has 1 site designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 12,000 hectares.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Cardy Tours

Tour Operator

e.g. Brownberg Nature Reserve is situated west of Brokopondo Dam. From the plateau that measures 450 meters in the height a spactacular view of the lake and surrounding mountain landscape unfolds before you. The abundant vegetation and the presence of various species of animals make the walk through the forest an experience you will not easily forget…

Mets Travel & Tours

Tour Operator

Suriname is located within the Guiana Shield (Part of the Amazon region), which encompasses one of the areas with the highest biodiversity in the world and contains large extensions of uninterrupted and intact primary tropical forest.

Otte Ottema - Birding In Suriname

Tour Operator

Ever thought of coming to Suriname? It's one of the last countries on earth which is almost completely covered with pristine rainforest. My name is Otte Ottema, and I know where the birds are which you want to see.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2009 [12 December] - Derek Kverno - Paramaribo

Report

…more than 400 bird species have been recorded in the environs of Paramaribo, where there are three significant sites, each worthy of a day trip: Weg naar Zee, the road to the coast, which passes through swamps and mudflats; Peperpot, an overgrown coffee plantation, which is the best place to find several Guyanan endemics, including the Blood-Colored Woodpecker and Arrowhead Piculet; and Cultuurtuin, a zoo and botanical garden with a good variety of common birds…

2011 [03 March] - Sjef Öllers - Guyana & Suriname

PDF Report

The main aim of this holiday was to get an introduction to the wildlife of the Guyanas with, as always, mammals and birds being the main focus. The birding far exceeded my expectations: sightings of purple-breasted and pompadour cotinga, Guianan red-cotinga, capuchinbird, Guianan cock-of-the-rock, purple-throated and crimson fruitcrow, scarlet ibis and two! harpy eagles were unforgettable….

2011 [11 November] - Martin Reid

Report

We used Paramaribo-based birding guide Sean Dilrosun mailto:seandil@hotmail.com to organize and lead our entire trip while in Suriname. His rate was very reasonable, and he proved to be both an excellent organizer and birding guide, as well as terrific company, with a broad knowledge and range of interests, as well as a sharp wit in English…

2012 [02 February] - Mark Van Beirs

PDF Report

…Highlights included incredibly tame Grey-winged Trumpeters, the largest known lek of exquisite Guianan Cocks of the Rock, a magnificent Grey-bellied Hawk, a superb male Crimson Fruitcrow, Arrowhead Piculet, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Rufous Crab-Hawk, Black-faced Hawk, Blue-cheeked and displaying Red-fan Parrots, Black-throated Antshrike, gaudy Ferruginous-backed and charming White-plumed Antbirds, an out of this world Spotted Antpitta, a snazzy Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Pompadour Cotinga, showy males of delicate White-fronted and Crimson-hooded Manakins, Dusky Purpletuft, Finsch’s Euphonia, Pale- throated Three-toed Sloth, lovely Red-handed Tamarins and agile Black Spider Monkeys…

2013 [02 February] - Mark Van Beirs

PDF Report

On our second tour to Suriname we amassed a great list of Guianan specialities, next to a splendid selection of more widespread, but rarely seen species. Our intrepid group recorded 392 species of birds, 15 mammals and some lovely ‘herps’ in this little country with its surface of about eight times Wales and its population of just over half a million people. We visited five different areas comprising three distinct ecosystems. It started with the bird-rich forests of Palumeu…

2014 [03 March] - Peter Boesman

PDF Report

Annotated list - I had long wanted to visit my birding friend Carl Beel since he moved to Suriname some 4 years ago, and this time plans finally concretized. Carl suggested to visit a wood concession area in West Suriname to do some exploration. Through his contacts, he got permission for us to stay there. It is an area around Mozeskreek, to the east of the better known Blanche Marie falls, in which a DIRT ROAD...

2015 [03 March] - Dani Lopez Velasco

PDF Report

On our third tour to Suriname we amassed a great list of Guianan specialities, next to a splendid selection of more widespread, but rarely seen species. Our intrepid group recorded 404 species of birds, 16 mammals and some lovely ‘herps’ in this little country with its surface of about eight times Wales and its population of just over half a million people. We visited five different areas comprising three distinct ecosystems.

2017 [03 March] - Teus Luijendijk

PDF Report

In early spring this year Theo Admiraal and I went for a birding trip to Suriname. Inspired by world year lister Arjan Dwarshuis’ results at Fredberg we decided to spend considerable time there, not in the least to use Fred’s experience on the locations of some more difficult species, and of course his knowledge of bird sounds. We also spent some time in and around Paramaribo, and 4 days at Brownsberg NP. We rented a car for the period in Paramaribo, which is highly recommended.

2017 [12 December] - Remco Hofland

PDF Report

Visiting Suriname, a former Dutch colony and the only tropical country where Dutch is spoken as a national language, was a dream come true! Not only because of the relaxed atmosphere, the great food, the absolute unparalleled forestedness of the country (at 94%!) or even the fantastic set of Guianan specialty birds – but rather the total package, combined with a week+ long stay at Fred Pansa’s secluded and quiet Zintete-Fredberg Lodge (hereafter: Zintete Lodge). Especially with Venezuela now basically being a no-go for tourists, Suriname is a great way of getting acquainted with the Guianan specialties – and in Suriname, serviced by direct flights from e.g. Amsterdam and Miami, many of these are found within a four-hour drive from the capital Paramaribo (three hours from the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport).

2018 [11 November] - Rick Bateman

Report

Manuela and Rick Bateman went to Suriname for two weeks during the latter part of October to early November 2018. For the most part, we birded independently. At the Fredberg, we were guided by lodge owner, bird guide, and forest-ninja Fred Pansa.

Places to Stay

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Kabalebo Nature Resort

Accommodation

Kabalebo Nature Resort offers bird watching programs into the Amazon Rainforest of West Suriname, using comfortable accommodations in stunning river and rainforest settings in Nature Reserves. The airstrip offers good early morning bird watching for guests who wish to wander around by themselves.

Other Links

Birds in Suriname

Website

The interior of Suriname is covered with forests and there are some savanna areas. The northern part of the country is where most people live. There are many places to visit that are easily accessible and have a rich avifauna. The total number of bird species known from Suriname is about 710 (in 2006) and this site describes about half of them (with photos and sounds). Also includes checklists for some of the birding hotspots…

Birds of Surinam

Gallery