Republic of 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 the organisation that takes care of them STINASU [see the website below] can give assistance with the planning of trips and it also has bird guides available. Several other 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 Paramaribo by taxi.
The best place to visit for birders is the Ralleigh Falls / Voltzberg nature reserve. Its checklist has more than 450 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 Ara's, birds of prey, [including the Harpy eagle] and gamebirds.
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, a granite outcrop with a height of 240 meters (Suriname is a mainly flat country, so this is high above the surroundings) and it allows you to be in the best place at the beginning and end of the day. Besides birds there are many mammals to be seen, such as the 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 500 meter height] and the savanna near the airport of Zandery and the savanna on the southern border with Brazil, the Sipaliwini savanna.
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 are town parks and old coffee plantations and any of the less populated areas of the country.
All these places are safely accessible. All months are suited for birding trips. 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.
A beautifull book on the birds of Suriname was revised in 1994 (Birds of Suriname, by Haverschmidt and Mees); but is too large for use in the field. The best 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 migrating birds.
Brownsberg Nature Park
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 735
As at November 2016
Number of endemics: 1
Arrowhead Piculet Picumnus minutissimus
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname
By: Arie L Spaans, Otte H Ottema & Jan Hein JM Ribot, Illustrated by Ber van Perlo | Series: Fauna of Suriname Volume: 3 | E J Brill (Publisher) | Paperback | Nov 2015 | 633 pages | 107 plates with colour illustrations; 41 colour photos, b/w illustrations, and colour maps; 10 tables
ISBN: 9789004249295Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in South America
Nigel Wheatley Paperback - 336 pages (27 October, 1994) Christopher Helm
ISBN: 0713639091Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
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…
The bird life here is also distinct. Rufous Crab-Hawk, Gray-winged Trumpeter (perhaps the easiest trumpeter anywhere), Caica and Red-fan parrots, Green-throated Mango, Crimson Topaz, Guianan Toucanet, Blood-colored Woodpecker, Guianan Piculet, Black-throated and Band-tailed antshrikes, Crimson Fruitcrow (rare), Capuchinbird, White Bellbird, Guianan Red-Cotinga, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, White-fronted and Black manakins, White-throated Pewee, Boat-billed Tody-Tyrant, Pale-bellied Mourner, Rose-breasted Chat, Blue-backed Tanager, Finsch's Euphonia, and Red-and-black Grosbeak are just some of the many specialties birders come to Suriname to see…
Probably the best local tour operator, organizes guided and unguided trips into the interior of Suriname…
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.
2008 [12 December] - Derek Kverno - Brownsberg Nature Park
Located at an elevation of 500m on a laterite plateau, Brownsberg Nature Park is a rich and complex birding site with a variety of different habitats prime for viewing many Guyanan endemics. It is also rich in mineral wealth, and evidence of past and present mining projects is abundant despite the ample surrounding rainforest. To the east the plateau offers views of the massive Brokopondo Reservoir, which was created in the early 60's by damming the Suriname River to provide electricity to power the country's bauxite processing plants. Displacing thousands of people and millions of animals and birds, the reservoir is now a strange and empty watery…
2008 [12 December] - Derek Kverno - Raleigh Falls
Located within the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, a newly created reserve in an area long famous for its rich bird life, Raleigh Falls must be the highlight of any birder's trip to Suriname. The most impressive attraction is the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek, positioned at the base of the Voltzberg, a massive granite dome that rises impressively above the rain forest. But the region also boasts a wide variety of habitats, including towering humid lowland forest, an extensive riparian zone, as well as micro savanna habitats, all of which can keep birders busy for days tracking down specialties…
2009 [12 December] - Derek Kverno - Paramaribo
…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
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
We used Paramaribo-based birding guide Sean Dilrosun mailto:email@example.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
…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
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
Foundation for Nature Preservation in Surinam (STINASU)
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….
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.
Bigi Pan Nature Preserve
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.
Coppename Nature Reserve
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.
Suriname currently has 1 site designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 12,000 hectares.
Wia-Wia Nature Preserve
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…
Birds in Suriname
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
Online guide to the Birds of Surinam covering over 700 species with films and sounds…
Photos of birds and other wildlife from Holland, Suriname and Scotland…