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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Puerto Rico

Friday 21 February to Thursday 27 February 2025
with Raymond VanBuskirk as leader
February 2026
with Raymond VanBuskirk as leader

Price: $3,250* (02/2025)

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Puerto Rican Tody is a charming endemic. Photo: Gavin Bieber

Puerto Rico, once a Spanish colony and now a U.S. territory and popular holiday destination provides a perfect and easy week-long getaway for the visiting birder. With an excellent road system providing convenient access to its many forest reserves, Puerto Rico offers some of the easiest and most enjoyable birdwatching in the Caribbean. On our tour we’ll seek out all of the island endemics and more than two-dozen Caribbean specialties, visiting every habitat from the windswept elfin-woods of Maricao to the bird-rich thorn scrub of the Guanica Dry Forest region.

For those interested in a longer Carribbean adventure, this tour can be combined with the Dominican Republic.

Day 1: The tour begins at 6 p.m. this evening in the lobby of our San Juan hotel. Night in San Juan.

Day 2: We’ll rise for an early breakfast at the hotel and begin making our way to the Rio Abajo State Forest.The mature forest in this preserve offers some of the best birding the island has to offer, with opportunities for many of the island’s endemics and our best chance at the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. The parking area is often bustling with birds, including the Puerto Rican Oriole, Puerto Rican Antillean Euphonia, and many others. Along the trail into the park we stand a good chance at seeing the endemic subspecies of Broad-winged Hawk on late morning thermals. After a solid morning here we’ll head for Cambalache State Forest, which offers one of the largest lowland tracts of forest on the northern shore of the island. Along the trails we’ll look for the beautiful Puerto Rican Bullfinch, whose calls sound very similar to a Northern Cardinal. Here too will be the exquisite Puerto Rican Tody and the entertaining Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo. Further up the trail we’ll look for Puerto Rican Spindalis, sprightly Adelaide’s Warblers and Puerto Rican Vireo. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with the birds. After lunch we’ll start heading west, stopping at a few wetlands that typically hold a nice assortment of waders and waterfowl (and often a surprise or two). Then we’ll pause at a cliffside overlook where White-tailed Tropicbirds should be conducting courtship flights in the bay below. This is also one of the best areas on the island to see the endangered Puerto Rican Harlequin Butterfly, an endemic species of checkerspot.  In the late afternoon we’ll make our way to our comfortable lodgings at a historic hotel in the highlands near Maricao. Night in Maricao.

Day 3: We’ll have an early morning walk on the hotel trails and then enjoy coffee and breakfast. After breakfast we’ll spend most of today in the lush montane forest of Maricao State Forest and other protected areas along the mountainous central road. Two endemic hummingbirds occur here; the Puerto Rican Emerald and impressive Green Mango. In addition, Puerto Rican Spindalis, Puerto Rican Tanager, Loggerhead Kingbird (endemic and distinctive subspecies), Puerto Rican Oriole, and Antillean Euphonia are all likely. The star attraction in the mountain region, however, is Elfin Woods Warbler, which was only discovered in 1971. This species can be hard to see well as it is very active and tends to remain partially hidden by the dense vegetation, but with some perseverance it generally reveals its secrets. After a picnic lunch we may do some more birding and have a bit of down time at our wonderful accommodations. If we still need to find Puerto Rican Owl we’ll go out after dinner. Night in Maricao.

Day 4: We’ll rise dark and early and head to a Sabana Grande panaderia for breakfast. From here it’s a short drive to the Susua State Forest where we’ll have a go at Key West Quail-Dove, Puerto Rican Pewee, and other dry forest species. In the afternoon we’ll descend to the lowlands to look for waterbirds and our first shot at the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird before reaching our wonderful seaside hotel. In the evening we’ll have our first visit to Laguna Cartagena NWR where we’ll investigate several wetlands looking for rare species such as West Indian Whistling-Duck, Yellow-breasted Crake, and Masked Duck. Dinner and searching for Puerto Rican Nightjar. Night near La Parguera.

Day 5: We’ll spend today birding in the lowlands of the Southwest, including a trip to Rice Tech for a chance at exotic species as well as native grassland birds and shorebirds; Cabo Rojo for scenic ocean views and birds of the mangroves; and another stop at Laguna Cartagena. In the evening we’ll have a look for the “Caribbean” Short-eared Owl at one of Raymond’s secret spots. Night near La Parguera.

Day 6: We’ll head back to San Juan, stopping along the way at an out-of-the-way spot that harbors the globally scarce Plain Pigeon and Antillean Crested Hummingbird. As a final stop in San Juan we’ll search a local community garden and plant nursery for Green-throated Carib. Night in San Juan.

Day 7: The tour concludes this morning in San Juan.

Created: 07 March 2024


  • 2025 Tour Price : $3,250
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $630


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Questions? Tour Manager: Stephanie Schaefer. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size seven with one leader.

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