A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Dominican Republic 2022

April 4-10, 2022 with Jesse Fagan guiding

Just a reminder of the 4x4 excursion up to Zapoten! (You were probably trying to forget this part of the tour!) Video by guide Jesse Fagan.

It had been a number of years since I was in the Dominican Republic. I have missed being here, not only for the number of endemics (31 species!) and the cool birds, but also for the wealth of history and culture that is unique to this part of the New World. This is the island of Palm Chats and chat-tanagers, and it's the birthplace of Spanish expansion into the Americas (for good or bad). Hispaniola is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean with the tallest peaks and the largest lake, divided in half by two nations, one of which speaks Spanish, the other French. It has three monotypic bird families, too. So, you can see that a trip to the Dominican Republic is going to be a mix of flavors, all of which we endeavored to taste in 6 days of travel.

We started and ended our trip in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo. It is here that you can find the first cathedral in the New World, the first street, the first hospital, the first university, and the list goes on...We quickly escaped the city and traveled to the southwest corner of the country, to a mountainous area that is far from the hustle and bustle of Santo Domingo, in the Sierra de Barahuco. We birded the dry forest of Puerto Escondido ("hidden port," but don't ask me where the water is!) along the Rabo de Gato trail, and woke up God awful early for a 4x4 adventure to the Haitian border at Zapoten. We stayed a night near Barahona with views of the Caribbean Sea, and birded the next morning in the cloud forest at El Cachote. Our final day of birding was in the humid subtropical forest near Sabana del Mar.

The birding highlights were many, but the Ashy-faced Owl stole the show. Owls tend to do that, right? Other highlights included Broad-billed Tody (who doesn't enjoy seeing todies?!), Hispaniolan Trogon, Bay-breasted Cuckoo (my personal favorite), and Eastern Chat-Tanager. In total, we tallied over 110 species of birds! Thanks to our local guide, Manny, and thanks to this group for a fun week in the DR. I look forward to seeing you again on the birding trail.

—Jesse aka Motmot (from Dahlonega, Georgia)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WEST INDIAN WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arborea)

A couple were seen at the Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens. This has proven to be a reliable location over the years for this fairly local and uncommon Caribbean specialty.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

Small numbers at Salinas de Bani.


Good numbers at Salinas de Bani.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Thanks to my fun group for a great trip in the DR, and also to Manny Jimenez, our local guide (left), for all the driving and good conversation during our travels. Photo courtesy of Manny Jimenez.
Numididae (Guineafowl)

HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris) [I]

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Colinus virginianus) [I*]

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

AMERICAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber)

Very distant birds were seen in the heat shimmer at Lago Enriquillo.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Seen well on the shaded stream at the Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens. This was a pair with young.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

SCALY-NAPED PIGEON (Patagioenas squamosa)

Seen a few times in the highlands.

WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

Just one on the tour, which seems odd.

PLAIN PIGEON (Patagioenas inornata)

Seen and heard a couple of times along Rabo de Gato trail.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Good numbers throughout the tour. Seen most days.

RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana) [*]

WHITE-FRONTED QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon leucometopia) [E*]

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)

This species and the next were seen in equal numbers, but Zenaida prefers more intact forest and is more common in the foothills and highlands.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

Small numbers seen each day. Especially common in disturbed habitats like sugarcane fields.

MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor)

One showed well at the botanical gardens.

BAY-BREASTED CUCKOO (Coccyzus rufigularis) [E]

Amazing views of a bird that approached us close, then flew across the road and perched for a long period. Always difficult. One of the more sought after Hispaniolan endemics.

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This is a smashing photo by participant, Doug Clarke, of one our targets, Bay-breasted Cuckoo!

HISPANIOLAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus longirostris) [E]

Seen or heard most days. Though fairly common, this is a cool species and it's behaviorally fun to watch.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

ANTILLEAN NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles gundlachii)

I was amazed to have two birds calling and displaying at Puerto Escondido considering it is early for their arrival.

LEAST PAURAQUE (Siphonorhis brewsteri) [E]

Heard in the early morning as we climbed up to Zapoten, but we eventually saw one in the dry forest near Puerto Escondido that evening.

GREATER ANTILLEAN NIGHTJAR (HISPANIOLAN) (Antrostomus cubanensis ekmani) [E]

Awesome looks of a perched bird that showed very well during an early morning stop as we climbed up to Zapoten.

Apodidae (Swifts)

ANTILLEAN PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis phoenicobia)

Common and seen most days. They nest in the palm trees in downtown Santo Domingo.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

ANTILLEAN MANGO (Anthracothorax dominicus)

Good numbers on our first day at the botanical gardens, but seen later a few times. Expect a split of this species very soon.

VERVAIN HUMMINGBIRD (Mellisuga minima)

One of the tiniest birds in the world, but it has a big voice. Often heard calling from the tops of the palm spikes.

HISPANIOLAN EMERALD (Riccordia swainsonii) [E]

One of the more difficult of the Hispaniolan hummingbirds to see. We had brief encounters with birds at Zapoten and El Cachote.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (CARIBBEAN) (Rallus crepitans caribaeus)

Awesome looks at a cooperative pair at Salinas de Bani.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Seen at Sabana del Mar.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

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We had nice looks (and photos!) of Hispaniolan Trogon in the highlands at Zapoten. Photo by Doug Clarke.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

Nearly a hundred birds were seen in small groups foraging at Salinas de Bani.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)


GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

All of our peeps and larger shorebirds were seen at Salinas de Bani. There were good numbers of Lesser Yellowlegs mixed in with the Stilt Sandpipers.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

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Here we are looking out over the forest at Zapoten with a heavy morning fog bank. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

One was picked out of the tern flock at Salinas de Bani.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

SANDWICH TERN (CABOT'S) (Thalasseus sandvicensis acuflavidus)

Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)


One very distant bird was seen from the aquarium parking lot as we entered Santo Domingo. Seems they spend most of their day away from the breeding cliffs, returning in the evening to roost.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

Both white and dark morphs were seen, though the white morph tends to dominate on the island.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Absent from the western part of the island, this species was seen on our last two days east of Santo Domingo.

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Ashy-faced Owl showed well on the entrance road to El Cachote. Nice photo by participant Doug Clarke.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

At least three were seen in the early morning fog at El Cachote. This is the nominate race and is resident on the island.

RIDGWAY'S HAWK (Buteo ridgwayi) [E]

Fantastic encounter on our final morning at Sabana del Mar. This rare raptor appears to be doing much better now, especially with more awareness and local conservation efforts.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

ASHY-FACED OWL (Tyto glaucops) [E]

This endemic was seen during a couple of early morning stops along the road to El Cachote.

Strigidae (Owls)

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

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The dry forest around Puerto Escondido where we had looks at Least Paraque and Antillean Nighthawk. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.
Trogonidae (Trogons)

HISPANIOLAN TROGON (Priotelus roseigaster) [E]

Good looks at Zapoten/El Aguacate.

Todidae (Todies)

BROAD-BILLED TODY (Todus subulatus) [E]

Fairly common in the lowlands, especially on the Rabo de Gato trail.

NARROW-BILLED TODY (Todus angustirostris) [E]

More common in the highlands; our first looks were at Zapoten. The calls between the two species are very different.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

ANTILLEAN PICULET (Nesoctites micromegas) [E]

A bird that can be somewhat tricky to find, but not this trip. We ran into several over the course of the tour.

HISPANIOLAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes striatus) [E]

One of the most common endemics seen on the tour, but a very sharp looking woodpecker!

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

HISPANIOLAN PARROT (Amazona ventralis) [E]

We had scope views of one individual on the Rabo de Gato trail; otherwise, seen in flight a few times.

OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (AZTEC) (Eupsittula nana astec)

A flock briefly in flight.

HISPANIOLAN PARAKEET (Psittacara chloropterus) [E]

We enjoyed the birds roosting in the old hospital in Santo Domingo one evening.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


Seen well at Zapoten.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We traveled to the northeast area of the country to find the rare Ridgway's Hawk. They closely monitor most individuals in the country, including this individual which is banded. Photo by Doug Clarke.

HISPANIOLAN PEWEE (Contopus hispaniolensis) [E]

Also seen well at Zapoten.

STOLID FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus stolidus)

Fairly common throughout the tour. Prefers dry forest habitat.

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

Seen every day of the tour.

LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (HISPANIOLAN) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus gabbii)

Very local and uncommon on this tour route. We had a responsive pair at the Haiti border.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

FLAT-BILLED VIREO (Vireo nanus) [E]

Our first was on the Rabo de Gato trail where they are not normally expected.

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus)

The call of "Reykjavik!" was heard throughout the tour.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

PALM CROW (HISPANIOLAN) (Corvus palmarum palmarum) [E]

Seen very well on the shores of Lago Enriquillo. They were inquisitive and approached close to the vehicle.

WHITE-NECKED CROW (Corvus leucognaphalus) [E]

Seen a few times at several different spots. They were most common (in flight, especially) along the Rabo de Gato trail.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

CARIBBEAN MARTIN (Progne dominicensis)

Large numbers were flying along the shore of Lago Enriquillo.

GOLDEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta euchrysea)

Small numbers flying up and down the trail (and into the fog!) at Zapoten.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our last evening, we watched in the warm evening light as hundreds of Hispaniolan Parakeets wheeled around their roost within the colonial zone. Photo by participant Doug Clarke.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)


This handsome songster was seen at Zapoten and again at El Cachote.

LA SELLE THRUSH (Turdus swalesi) [E]

We had to work a bit at it, but eventually we had nice looks at several individuals along the road at Zapoten.


Seen well several times on this tour, our first were at the botanical gardens.

Dulidae (Palmchat)

PALMCHAT (Dulus dominicus) [E]

Common on this tour. Their large stick nests are seen in the cities and towns.

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)

VILLAGE WEAVER (Ploceus cucullatus) [I]

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

ANTILLEAN EUPHONIA (Chlorophonia musica)

Seen on the Rabo de Gato trail and again at Zapoten.


Wow! Amazing encounter with a calling male in the pine forest at Zapoten. One of the more difficult of the Hispaniolan endemics to find.

ANTILLEAN SISKIN (Spinus dominicensis) [E]

Erratic and hard to find some years. We lucked out with a group on the Rabo de Gato trail on our first day! Seen again at Zapoten, however.

Calyptophilidae (Chat-Tanagers)

WESTERN CHAT-TANAGER (Calyptophilus tertius) [E]

Somehow this species wasn't much trouble this year at Zapoten. It isn't always like that! Great looks of this highland songster were had by all.

EASTERN CHAT-TANAGER (Calyptophilus frugivorus) [E]

We worked hard at it (again), but our efforts paid off. We had encounters and good looks at several pairs at El Cachote.

Phaenicophilidae (Hispaniolan Tanagers)

BLACK-CROWNED PALM-TANAGER (Phaenicophilus palmarum) [E]

Seen most days. Uncommon, but always around.

WHITE-WINGED WARBLER (Xenoligea montana) [E]

Some years this species can be elusive. However, we lucked out with several good views just after arriving to Zapoten this year.

GREEN-TAILED WARBLER (Microligea palustris) [E]

We were surprised to find our first individual on the trail at Rabo de Gato, which is unusual that low. It is more common in the foothills and highlands.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Finally, on the critter list, we saw many endangered Rhinoceros Iguanas at Salinas de Bani. Photo by Doug Clarke.
Spindalidae (Spindalises)

HISPANIOLAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis dominicensis) [E]

Seen well at Zapoten.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

HISPANIOLAN ORIOLE (Icterus dominicensis) [E]

Usually tough, but we lucked out with a couple of pairs visiting flowering trees this year.


The Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens were THE place for this species, though not seen much after that.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)


AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Thankfully, one of the more common wintering warblers in the Dominican Republic.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

YELLOW WARBLER (GOLDEN) (Setophaga petechia albicollis)

The resident subspecies was seen in the mangroves at Salinas de Bani.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus chrysoleuca) [*]

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BANANAQUIT (GREATER ANTILLEAN) (Coereba flaveola bananivora)



Never super common, but encountered on multiple days. Usually in pairs.

Totals for the tour: 113 bird taxa and 0 mammal taxa