Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus ©Dick Daniels Website
Birding Puerto Rico

The avifauna of Puerto Rico includes almost 380 species of birds. However, 197 of these are accidentals (stragglers from other locations that have only been reported a few times). Also, man has introduced 35 of the total bird species, and many of these may not have established sustainable breeding populations. About 120 bird species regularly nest in Puerto Rico, including native species, plus other birds that have been introduced by humans over the last few centuries. In addition to the local nesting avifauna, many other species of birds breed in North America and elsewhere, but spend the winter in the tropics, including Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean. In fact, many of these migrants actually spend more time in Puerto Rico than on their breeding grounds. Puerto Rico is an incubator of evolution, with 17 surviving endemic bird species on an island only 100 by 35 miles in size. In the USA by comparison, the 48 contiguous US states have more than 800 times as much land area, but only 11 surviving endemic bird species. In addition 25 species of birds endemic to the West Indies occur in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has not escaped the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. At least five endemic birds have become extinct in recent millennia in Puerto Rico – as many as in all of North America. Some of these recent extinctions may have been caused by climate change, others by the Taino Indians, while still modern inhabitants recently precipitated other extinctions. Puerto Rico had a large flightless rail that was hunted by the Taino Indians, an endemic woodcock, an endemic quail-dove, an endemic barn owl, and an endemic finch. In addition, several subspecies in Puerto Rico have become extinct recently. Some species that still survive elsewhere are now extinct in Puerto Rico. For example, the White-necked Crow ‘Cuervo pescueciblanco’ Corvus leucognaphalus was hunted to extinction in Puerto Rico by the mid-20th Century, but still survives on Hispaniola. The Limpkin ‘Carrao’ Aramus guarauna was still hunted in the 19th century in Puerto Rico, but has only rarely been reported on this island recently. Since bird bones are quite fragile and easily destroyed, we may never know about other birds that have become extinct in recent centuries, but have left no recognizable trace.

Recent studies have suggested that in all of the West Indies there were 50 to 60 species of endemic parrots, parakeets and macaws at the time humans arrived. Since the arrival of humans all but 12 of those have become extinct. These extinct species – some of which were once common birds – should remind all of us that we cannot take for granted that our children will have the benefit of interacting with the same birds who are co-occupying this planet with us now. If it were not for significant efforts by conservationists starting in the 1960s, the endemic Puerto Rican Parrot and the endemic Yellow-shouldered Blackbird would almost certainly be extinct on Puerto Rico.

Top Sites
  • Caribbean National Forest

    Satellite View
    Southeast of San Juan is locally called El Yunque. Its forest has many of the endemic bird species but is unique as the only place where the endemic Puerto Rican Parrot occurs. The main nesting area on the west side of the forest is off limits to visitors except by special arrangements with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Occasionally, parrots have been seen flying in late afternoon from the Tradewinds Trail, 1-2 miles west of PR 191, but that trail has frequently been closed due to landslides. They also have been seen recently flying over the Río Espíritu Santo overlook on PR 186.
  • Guánica State Forest

    Satellite View
    Puerto Rico.s dry forest can best be explored at Guánica State Forest. This area is good for Adelaide's Warbler, Puerto Rican Vireo, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Puerto Rican Tody, Key-West Quail-Dove, Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo, and Mangrove Cuckoo. At night, the endemic Puerto Rican Nightjar can be heard along Puerto Rico 333.
  • Humacao Wildlife Refuge

    Satellite View
    East of the town of Humacao has many waterfowl, plus Least Bittern. It is the most reliable spot for West Indian Whistling-Duck, but you have to be lucky to glimpse them at dawn or dusk as they fly to or from foraging grounds.
  • La Parguera

    Satellite View
    To the east in the town of La Parguera, the grounds of the hotel Parador Villa Parguera often host the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird which feeds on table scraps there, and can be seen at dawn and dusk in the non-breeding season flying to and from roosts on mangrove islands.
  • Parador Hacienda Juanita

    Satellite View
    At the nearby Parador Hacienda Juanita (tel: 838-2550) many of the tall trees on the grounds were toppled by Hurricane Georges in 1998, but you can still find Black-cowled Oriole, Green Mango, Puerto Rican Spindalis, and Loggerhead Kingbird, as well as other common forest species. There is a good loop trail leading downhill through the forest just west of the swimming pool where Puerto Rican Screech-Owls call at dawn and dusk.
  • SF IBA Toro Negro

    InformationSatellite View
    Toro Negro is located in the central mountainous region of Puerto Rico and it has a total area of 8,203.6977 cuerdas (3,224.3778 ha; 7,967.6110 acres). There are 30 species of birds reported, including 6 endemic species and two that are endangered: the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus venator) and Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens). The Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata), a critically endangered species, has also been seen in this forest.
  • South-western Puerto Rico

    Satellite View
    All of Puerto Rico's endemic birds, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Parrot, can be found in a few leisurely days of exploring south-western Puerto Rico. The habitat here varies from wet cloud forest on high mountain ridge tops, to the cactus-dotted subtropical dry forest in the lowlands, where the mountain ranges often block the prevailing north-easterly winds from delivering rain. Key sites in the southwest include the mountains at Maricao State Forest, e.g. on PR 120 near the picnic area at Km 16.2. This spot is one of the most reliable spots for the endemic Elfin Woods Warbler. Listen for its rattling trill of a song, or its odd, buzzy call note, as it explores the tree canopy, often in mixed flocks with other species. Also common here is Puerto Rican Vireo, Lesser Antillean (Puerto Rican) Pewee, Puerto Rican Bullfinch, Puerto Rican Tody, and Puerto Rican Tanager.
  • Southern Tip

    Satellite View
    At the south end of Puerto Rico 301 on the coast, follow the signs for the Cabo Rojo lighthouse (Faro). The mangroves and salt ponds in the wildlife refuge along the way are some of the best wetlands in the Caribbean for migrant shorebirds such as Stilt Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, and Whimbrel. The mangroves on the way have abundant Northern Waterthrush (winter) and Yellow Warblers. The shrubs along the trail harbor Troupials, Warbling Silverbills, and other dry scrub species
Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 380

    (As at October 2018)

    National Bird: Puerto Rican Spindalis Spindalis portoricensis

Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 17

    Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo Saurothera vieilloti , Puerto Rican Nightjar Caprimulgus noctitherus, Green Mango Anthracothorax viridis Puerto Rican Emerald Chlorostilbon maugaeus, Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus, Puerto Rican Woodpecker Melanerpes portoricensis, Puerto Rican Parrot Amazona vittata, Puerto Rican Parakeet Psittacara maugeiMyiarchus antillarum, Puerto Rican Vireo Vireo latimeri, Puerto Rican Tanager Nesospingus speculiferus, Puerto Rican Spindalis, Spindalis portoricensis, Puerto Rican Oriole Icterus portoricensis, Yellow-shouldered Blackbird Agelaius xanthomus, Elfin-woods Warbler Dendroica angelae, Adelaide’s Warbler Dendroica adelaidae, Puerto Rican Bullfinch Loxigilla portoricensis
Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico & the Caymans

    | By Guy Kirwan, Arturo Kirkconnell & Mike Flieg | Prion | 2010 | Paperback | 198 pages, Line illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9781871104127 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

    | By Herbert A Raffaele | Princeton University Press | 1992 | Paperback | 220 pages, 25 colour plates, 16 b/w plates | ISBN: 9780691024240 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Vieques Island Puerto Rico

    | (Status, Abundance, and Conservation) | By Daphne deJersey Gemmill | Birds Caribbean | 2015 | Journal | 238 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9780982105719 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Puerto Rico Birds

    | (A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2016 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583559857 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Puerto Rico's Birds in Photographs

    | By Mark W Oberle | Sociedad Ornitologica Puertoriquena | 2nd edition | 2000 | Paperback | 129 pages, Colour photos | ISBN: 9780965010412 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of the West Indies

    | By Guy M Kirwan, Anthony Levesque, Mark W Oberle & Christopher J Sharpe | Lynx Edicions | 2019 | 400 pages, 1600+ colour illustrations, 650+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728176 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Birds in Photos and Audio

    Apple iOS |
    | Mark Oberle | 381 MB | Requires iOS 8.0 or later |

    Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Birds in photos and audio is a bilingual app for iPhone/iPod that provides at your fingertips a mini-encyclopedia for all of the 390 bird species of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with extensive text, visual and audio resources. English/Spanish text, 2,400 photos and 389 audio clips open up the world of the islands’ birds.
Organisations
  • Coereba Society/ Sociedad Coereba

    Website
    7336 16th Ave. SW Seattle, WA 98106-1835 The Coereba Society takes its name from what's by far the most common bird in the Puerto Rico region, the bananaquit
  • Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña

    Facebook Page
    La misión de SOPI es promover la preservación, conservación, restauración y manejo sostenible de lugares de importancia para las aves en Puerto Rico mediante el estímulo al estudio, la apreciación y la protección de las aves, aportando alternativas de carácter técnico y científico para aquellas acciones que puedan tener un impacto significativo en las aves.
  • Sociedad de Historia Natural de Puerto Rico

    Facebook Page
    La Sociedad de Historia Natural de P.R., organizada en 1960, es de los más antiguos grupos conservacionistas en Puerto Rico. Sus objetivos principales son la educación, conservación y aprecio de nuestro ambiente y recursos naturales, ofreciendo conferencias, excursiones y otras actividades de temas ambientales. Las charlas mensuales son seguidas por una excursión relacionada. La Sociedad también participa en programas de conservación y educación ambiental con otras instituciones y grupos comunitarios.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NF El Yunque

    InformationSatellite View
    The Forest contains rare wildlife including the Puerto Rican Parrot, which is largely green in coloration, about 12 inches long, and displays brilliant blue wings in flight. At close range a vivid red forehead is also visible. It is found only in this part of the island. Approximately 50 other bird species are found on the Forest.
  • NR Punta Santiago (was Humacao)

    InformationSatellite View
    Road #3 Km 75.7 | Bo. Rio Abajo, Humacao 00791, Puerto Rico +1 787-397-1900
  • NR Reserva Natural Punta Cucharas

    InformationSatellite View
    The Reserve consists of mangrove ecosystems, coastal sand dunes, a saline lagoon known as Laguna Las Salinas, open water, and a century-old local community. The lagoon occupies and area of 347,898 m2 (86 acres) Ecological protection is managed and enforced by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. Fifty-six bird species have been identified in the Reserve. Five of them are endemics, 44 are resident, five are migratory and one is introduced.
  • NWR Cabo Rojo

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 when 587 acres of land in the coastal plain of south-western Puerto Rico were transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This area is classified as subtropical dry forest. Previous to the establishment of the refuge the vegetation was severely disturbed by cattle grazing. The Cabo Rojo NWR now includes tracts of secondary forest, grassland and brush habitats.
  • NWR Culebra

    InformationSatellite View
    Culebra National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 400 wildlife refuges administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States, Puerto Rico and US territories. These refuges, managed principally for migratory birds and other unique wildlife values, are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the Department of the Interior. The Culebra Refuge, which comprises about 1,480 acres, includes 23 islands and rocks in addition to the four tracts on the main island of Culebra. The refuge is well known as a nesting site for a variety of seabirds and preserves important habitat for endangered sea turtles and the Culebra giant anole.
  • NWR Desecheo

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge encompasses the entire rugged island. The island was used as a practice target for aerial bombardment(1940-1952) by the US War Department and (1952-1960) as a survival training area for the US Air Force. Although formerly containing a colony of 15,000 brown boobies and 10,000 red-footed boobies, currently no successful booby breeding is known to occur on the island. Feral goats are a problem.
  • NWR Laguna Cartagena

    InformationSatellite View
    The present lagoon is a remnant of what was once a large open expanse of water and one of the most important freshwater habitats for migrating waterfowl and aquatic birds in Puerto Rico. Due to agricultural practices, about 90 percent of the lagoon is covered with cattail. Intensive cattle grazing and sugar cane production have greatly altered the original landscape. The area is a stopover for neotropical migrants and several species of waterbirds. The endangered yellow-shouldered blackbird and peregrine falcon have been reported on the refuge.
  • NWR Vieques

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge contains several ecologically distinct habitats including; beaches, coastal lagoons, mangrove wetlands, and upland forested areas. Some of the best examples of sub-tropical dry forest in the Caribbean can be found on refuge lands. The refuge and its surrounding waters are home to at least two plants and eight animals on the Federal endangered species list including; the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), and four species of sea turtles.
  • SF IBA Guánica

    InformationSatellite View
    The area was designated as a forest reserve in 1919 and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve in 1981. It is considered the best preserved, subtropical forest and the best example of dry forest in the Caribbean. Approximately half of Puerto Rico's birds and nine of sixteen the endemic bird species occur in the Guánica State Forest.
Guides & Tour Operators


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  • Adventours

    Tour Operator
    Since 1992 we have been offering customized, guided outdoor itineraries for individuals and small groups looking for unique nature and soft 'green' educational experiences. We follow Green Globe and APIE Codes of Good Practices, plus Leave No Trace Principles
  • Puerto Rico Birding Trips

    Tour Operator
    Puerto Rico Birding Trips offers Birdwatching Tours in Puerto Rico with its over 300 species including 17 endemics, Puerto Rico is a great and recommended destination for birdwatching
Trip Reports


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  • 2012 [05 May] - John Thornton

    Report
    …We then drove to our hotel for our first night: the Fajardo Inn located in the northeastern city of the same name. The drive over we managed to spot other birds such as CATTLE EGRET, GREEN HERON, RED-TAILED HAWK, ZENAIDA DOVE, GRAY KINGBIRD, and CARIBBEAN MARTIN. The hotel grounds had many of the same birds we had already seen, plus we added COMMON GROUND-DOVE, ANTILLEAN CRESTED HUMMINGBIRD, PEARLY-EYED THRASHER and my first endemic and lifer of the trip, a PUERTO RICAN (PR hereafter) ORIOLE. From our room's balcony, we could see BROWN PELICANS and LAUGHING GULLS at the nearby coastline…
  • 2013 [03 March] - Eric Hynes & Pepe Rojas

    Report
    The next morning, charismatic endemics like Puerto Rican Tody and Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo were around us right from the start at Cambalache. The rainforest up at Rio Abajo in the Haystack Hills was lush and birdy. Thank goodness that Puerto Rican Screech-Owl was still roosting in the bamboo. Lunch at Guajataca was highlighted by a streaking Peregrine Falcon and White-tailed Tropicbirds…
  • 2013 [04 April] - Steve Johnson

    Report
    These notes are intended to help other birders visiting Puerto Rico. Other peoples' reports are very helpful; these are just my own additions…
  • 2014 [03 March] - Eric Hynes & Leno Senko

    Report
    ...Cambalache State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Cambalache) was a great second stop. We parked under a singing Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo and followed it up with close Puerto Rican Tody and a yummy picnic lunch. The afternoon of our first full day had two noteworthy stops: the "flamingo pond" and Guajataca for White-tailed Tropicbirds...
  • 2015 [03 March] - Eric Hynes & Tom Johnson

    Report
    ...We continued on to Cambalache, where we had lunch and enjoyed Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoos. The afternoon held in store close views of an American Flamingo at Camuy and White-tailed Tropicbirds zooming around offshore at Guajataca. In the evening, we arrived at our seaside lodging at La Parguera.
  • 2016 [01 January] - Ian Merrill

    Report
    ...even the shortest of trips can encompass all of the key birding sites, while a week-long visit facilitates a very relaxed tour of this seductively picturesque and laid-back island. Even though our trip was by no means a full-on birding experience, and consisted of an itinerary taking in various cultural attractions to entertain a largely non-birding wife, I still saw all of the island’s endemics (with the exception of Puerto Rican Parrot) within the first three days...
  • 2016 [01 January] - Wilton Farrelly

    PDF Report
    This was a family Christmas cruise with a few days holidaying beforehand in Puerto Rico. Itwas taken in the period 21st December to 2nd January. Birding was worked around familytime and activities. Indeed cruises are not great for birding in that ships arrive in the centre oftowns and birding sites are rarely close by. However I had pre-booked local bird guides in StLucia and Grenada. I have below also mentioned a number of wildlife related activities thatwe took up.
  • 2016 [03 March] - Ross Gallardy - Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic

    PDF Report
  • 2016 [03 March] - Tom Johnson & Pepe Rojas

    Report
    ...The tour started off in San Juan with an introductory dinner, but we retired to bed early to prepare for a predawn start the following day. We headed west to Rio Abajo, where we found Puerto Rican Screech-Owls, enjoyed a picnic breakfast, and then walked a forest road until we came to a good site to wait for Puerto Rican Parrots to arrive...
  • 2017 [01 January] - Ann Duff

    PDF Report
    Our tour to Puerto Rico was booked with Julio Salgado Velez, a very enthusiastic young man who was recommended by Ian Merrill in his excellent January 2016 report. We e-mailed Julio a wish-list which included several tricky species as well as all the endemics. W
  • 2017 [03 March] - Tom Johnson & Doug Gochfeld

    Report
    “Wow” is the first word that jumps to mind when thinking of this year’s Field Guides tour to Puerto Rico. We had a splendid time circumnavigating the island and finding all 17 of the endemic bird species (and the other endemic taxa currently considered subspecies), with smashing views of most. We had six days jam-packed with goodness, including good birds, good food, and good humor.
  • 2017 [04 April] - Mark Van Beirs - Hispaniola & Puerto Rico

    PDF Report
    Our recent Greater Antilles island hopping tour produced all the single island endemics of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas (with the exception of the very recently split Inagua Woodstar of the southern Bahamas) and all the participants on this sun-drenched tour saw these specialities 3 BirdQuest Tour Report: Hispaniola (Dominican Republic) & Puerto Rico with Jamaica & The Bahamas www.birdquest-tours.com very well.
  • 2018 [08 August] - Charles Spagnoli

    PDF Report
    In July, 2017, my wife Lisa, I, and the other members of the group with whom we take vacations agreed that we would visit Puerto Rico in 2018. Two months later, on September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico.
Places to Stay


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  • Casa Flamboyant

    Accommodation
    Bed and Breakfast in the Rainforest - Listen to the melodies of the coquis - literally a chorus of singing frogs. Be lulled to sleep by the waterfalls that surround your island home. Breathe in the soft Caribbean air. Your mountain top retreat is set on the lush edge of the 28,000 acre El Yunque Rain forest - home to more than 200 species of trees, 50 species of native orchids, and 150 types of exotic ferns…
  • Mamacitas

    Information
    Welcome to Mamacitas the friendliest little guesthouse in the Caribbean. For information regarding room information, bar and restaurant hours or Culebra Island activities. Culebra is almost exactly betweenthe big island of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands
Other Links
  • Aves de Puerto Rico

    Website
    The birds of Puerto Rico [under construction Jan 2003]
  • Birdwatching in Puerto Rico

    Webpage
    If you are a birdwatcher, then Puerto Rico needs to be added to your must-visit bucket list. Puerto Rico has so many different geographical regions, all within a small 35×100 mile area — rain forests, dry forests, and forests in-between, seaside, mangroves and mountains....
  • Puerto Rican Parrot Amazona vittata

    Website
    Puerto Rico was once an unspoiled tropical island with an abundance of wildlife, including its endemic Parrot (amazona vitatta). Along with the population explosion and a tremendous growth of housing much of the habitat the parrots were surviving in had been lost. The parrots retreated to their last stronghold, the El Yunque Mountains
Blogs
  • Birds Backyard

    Blog
    Now that I have my own house, I have the goal of making my backyard a special place or habitat for birds. Everyone should know that my passion for birds is extreme. It has not been easy. The backyard was left without proper cleaning for years. I cut dead trees, picked leaves, trash and other things that did not belong to the place
  • Puerto Rico Birding

    Blog
    On this blog I post info about Puerto Rico Birds as well as my birding tours, and other thing related to birds or birding here on the island of Puerto Rico
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Gabriel Lugo

    Gallery
    Siempre hab

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