A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Puerto Rico II 2022

February 26-March 4, 2022 with Eric Hynes guiding

Thanks so much for choosing Field Guides for your Puerto Rico birding adventure. It was a pleasure birding with all of you on that enchanting island.

We began our birding at dawn at Rio Abajo State Forest and not one, but two pairs of Puerto Rican Owls were duetting back and forth as we got out of the van. Listening to their cacophony was impressive enough but in short order we had a pair in the spotlight for unobstructed killer views -- an ideal way to launch our exploration. In fact, the endemic owl was voted the favorite species of the tour. After breakfast, our walk quickly produced a number of endemics like the charismatic Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo and spritely Puerto Rican Tody. Our primary target announced their presence with a variety of vocalizations. Eventually, we savored beautiful scope views of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. Our victorious stroll back to the van added a soaring Broad-winged Hawk. In Arecibo, we found Caribbean Martins and the flashy, introduced Icterid: Venezuelan Troupial. Cambalache State Forest, our second birding site of the day, was hopping right from the parking lot. We added Loggerhead Kingbird, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, and Adelaide's Warbler immediately, but the chattering Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo stole the show. A Green Mango managed to be cooperative and elusive at the same time. The afternoon drive delivered us to our home for the next three nights: La Parguera.

Our first morning in the southwest end of the island was spent up in the highlands at Maricao State Forest. Pearly-eyed Thrasher and Elfin-woods Warbler highlighted our field breakfast observations, followed by a remarkable view of a Puerto Rican Tanager that seemed stuck in a trance. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was a surprise and the sweet-singing Puerto Rican Vireo allowed for excellent views on a bare branch in the sun. Who could forget watching the female Puerto Rican Emerald constructing her delicate, tiny nest. A quick stop down the road added Lesser Antillean Pewee for some and another helping of Black-whiskered Vireo. After a pleasant siesta, we walked the shoreline in town and added Clapper Rail, Antillean Mango and the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. Positioning ourselves at sunset at just the right spot allowed us to witness a remarkable Puerto Rican Nightjar performance and complete the sweep of all 17 endemics!

Tuesday morning began with a quick walk of town, highlighted by point blank looks at Puerto Rican Spindalis. Shorebirds and seabirds were the focus at Cabo Rojo. Elegant White-tailed Tropicbirds and Royal Terns patrolled the open sea and the mudflats hosted Willet, Whimbrel, Stilt Sandpiper and both yellowlegs. After an early dinner, we walked out the dike trail at Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge and enjoyed close-up views of West Indian Whistling-Ducks, White-cheeked Pintails, Sora and a most unexpected flyover of two Antillean Nighthawks.

Day four found us right back at Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge for a walk out to the observation tower. West Indian Whistling-Ducks were standing on the railing -- no scope necessary. Black-crowned Night-Herons, grebes and egrets were numerous. The bird of the morning had to have been that cooperative Mangrove Cuckoo in the parking area. After checking out of the hotel, we cleaned up Puerto Rican Bullfinch at the scenic overlook, then turned our attention to getting across the island. We tacked Little Blue Heron, Black-bellied Plover, and Sanderling onto the list at Punta Cucharas. Thanks to a tip from guide Tom Johnson, we enjoyed the curious Antillean Crested Hummingbird in an unlikely location. After a rather circuitous route to Carite State Forest, we dined near Caguas and finally landed at Casa Cubuy.

Our last full day of birding started in the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service: El Yunque. Signs of the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017 were evident but we had plenty of bird activity: a foraging Louisiana Waterthrush, Puerto Rican Bullfinches, Puerto Rican Tanagers and Puerto Rican Spindalis. After walking the beautiful grounds of the Botanical Garden in Caguas, we wound our way toward Comerio and successfully twitched the poorly named Plain Pigeon.

On Friday we said goodbye to Casa Cubuy and made our way to the north coast. Better looks at Cave Swallow and Puerto Rican Woodpecker were welcomed. Lots of Black-bellied Plovers and a few Red Knots were roosting on the rocks. The final species of the tour was another hummingbird stakeout thanks to Tom Johnson. We watched a couple of Green-throated Caribs at a flowering tree in an urban neighborhood before saying our goodbyes at the airport.

Thanks again, stay safe and good birding.

—Eric Hynes

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)

We enjoyed outstanding views of this regional specialty during both of our visits to Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

The handsome drakes were in breeding plumage

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Found only at Laguna Cartagena

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

We had scope views from the tower


A very appropriately named duck -- those immaculate white "cheeks" are very eye-catching

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)

We scoped at least eight individuals at Laguna Cartagena; an uncommon wintering species in Puerto Rico

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Another Laguna Cartagena N.W.R. only species

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Good looks the second trip to Laguna Cartagena

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Just a few

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]


SCALY-NAPED PIGEON (Patagioenas squamosa)

Super-cooperative singing birds at Maricao

WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

Heard more than seen

PLAIN PIGEON (Patagioenas inornata wetmorei)

Truly a beautiful bird; an unfortunate name

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]


AFRICAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia roseogrisea) [I]

Seemingly less common on the island but this complex is probably pretty murky waters with lots of hybrids

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina portoricensis)

So small

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)


ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)

Fairly common throughout

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Mostly in the dry SW

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

Funny vocalizations

MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor)

Wow - what an amazing observation just before leaving Laguna Cartagena

PUERTO RICAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus vieilloti) [E]

The individual in the parking lot at Cambalache State Forest was a real show-off.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

ANTILLEAN NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles gundlachii)

This was a pleasant surprise! The species is fairly easy to encounter when the breeding population returns but it is truly rare to catch up to overwintering birds. We were fortunate enough to spot two individuals overhead ten minutes after sunset.

PUERTO RICAN NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus noctitherus) [E]

We could hear more than a dozen birds but the looks in flight and perched were outstanding.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

ANTILLEAN MANGO (PUERTO RICAN) (Anthracothorax dominicus aurulentus)

The most widespread hummingbird on the island.

GREEN MANGO (Anthracothorax viridis) [E]

Finding the angle to see this endemic at Cambalache proved tricky but it was a great look once you found the window through the vegetation.

GREEN-THROATED CARIB (Eulampis holosericeus)

Last new species just before we headed to the airport

PUERTO RICAN EMERALD (Riccordia maugaeus) [E]

Even among hummingbirds, this species is conspicuously tubular.


That little patch of Tabebuia trees hosted the only individual(s) of the tour.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (CARIBBEAN) (Rallus crepitans caribaeus)

Wow - what a hyper-responsive pair!

SORA (Porzana carolina)

Good looks in the evening at Laguna Cartagena

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Common at Laguna Cartagena

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

less numerous than the previous species at Laguna Cartagena

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

Only a couple of these colorful birds

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

The concentration at Combate Beach was impressive

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Dozens dozing on the rocks near San Juan

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

A few here and there

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

Bob was the first to draw our attention to this massive shorebird at Cabo Rojo

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Still in non-breeding plumage

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

We caught up to at least five individuals the last morning in very worn non-breeding plumage.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

Puerto Rico is a reliable location to see this species wintering in numbers.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

The individual with apparently only one leg seemed to be getting on just fine

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Not many around this winter at their usual haunts.


It was amusing to watch that one individual remain loyal to that one stretch at the parking spot on the way out from Cabo Rojo.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

A few here and there

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Everything about a Greater is greater (compared to a Lesser).

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

Good looks along the exit road at Cabo Rojo

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

That one individual at Cabo Rojo seemed tame, approaching us too close for some camera lenses to focus.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)


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

Just a couple at Combate Beach

Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)


Three or four pairs were wheeling off the cliffs at the lighthouse.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


A classic kleptoparasite -- one chased that a White-tailed Tropicbird for a long stretch.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Mostly seen in flight

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Just one individual (at Laguna Cartagena N.W.R.)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Common across the island; not just in wetlands

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Best looks at Cabo Rojo

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Our first was a beautiful adult on our transfer day back to the east

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

Good looks at Cabo Rojo

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

An every day bird; numerous

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

A few

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Great scope views from the tower

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

It was really fun to see all those birds flying through that canyon at dusk, commuting from their mangrove roosts to foraging sites.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Not many

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Mostly in the SW

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

A few individuals

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (CARIBBEAN) (Buteo platypterus brunnescens)

We don't routinely catch up to this species in Puerto Rico but we enjoyed good looks at an adult soaring over the canopy at Rio Abajo State Forest.

RED-TAILED HAWK (JAMAICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis)

Fairly common resident

Strigidae (Owls)

PUERTO RICAN OWL (Gymnasio nudipes) [E]

The bird of the tour; what an incredible experience that first morning!

Todidae (Todies)

PUERTO RICAN TODY (Todus mexicanus) [E]

You gotta love Todies!

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Best looks at Cabo Rojo

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


We caught up to an individual at Maricao. This species is an uncommon winter visitor.

PUERTO RICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes portoricensis) [E]

This striking endemic looks quite a bit different than most Melanerpes woodpeckers.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (EASTERN CARIBBEAN) (Falco sparverius caribaearum)

Here and there along the way; a copulating pair behind us at the tower at Laguna Cartagena.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

What a fabulous scope view of a perched bird at Laguna Cartagena.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [I]

Small flocks on several occasions

PUERTO RICAN PARROT (Amazona vittata) [E]

A truly endangered endemic; what a treat to see it so well.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

CARIBBEAN ELAENIA (Elaenia martinica)

That pair really seemed to stick together.

LESSER ANTILLEAN PEWEE (PUERTO RICO) (Contopus latirostris blancoi)

It would have been nice if that bird at the pull-off up in the Maricao highlands was a little more cooperative.

PUERTO RICAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus antillarum) [E]

A widespread endemic; that teed up individual at Cabo Rojo was probably our best look.

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

Conspicuous on Puerto Rico

LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (PUERTO RICAN) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus taylori)

This subspecies is a candidate for a split

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

PUERTO RICAN VIREO (Vireo latimeri) [E]

Our best look was up at Maricao

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus)

They were singing up a storm at Rio Abajo

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

CARIBBEAN MARTIN (Progne dominicensis)

These birds were just returning to Puerto Rico

CAVE SWALLOW (CARIBBEAN) (Petrochelidon fulva puertoricensis)

Our best look was the last morning with birds on the wires.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

PEARLY-EYED THRASHER (Margarops fuscatus)

The birds up at Maricao were most cooperative

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Mostly seen while driving

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)


Common but heard more than seen

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)

NORTHERN RED BISHOP (Euplectes franciscanus) [I]

At Laguna Cartagena

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

ORANGE-CHEEKED WAXBILL (Estrilda melpoda) [I]

At Laguna Cartagena

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Around towns and cities; just like on the mainland

Nesospingidae (Puerto Rican Tanager)

PUERTO RICAN TANAGER (Nesospingus speculiferus) [E]

This species was recently assigned its own monotypic family.

Spindalidae (Spindalises)

PUERTO RICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis portoricensis) [E]

Gorgeous males

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

PUERTO RICAN ORIOLE (Icterus portoricensis) [E]

The pair at the nest in the highlands were very obliging.

VENEZUELAN TROUPIAL (Icterus icterus) [I]

This stunning non-native seems to be thriving in Puerto Rico these days.


Only in the southwest corner of the island

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

Thought to be one of the reasons the previous species is endangered

GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger brachypterus)


Parulidae (New World Warblers)

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)

Just that one individual foraging along the drainage ditch at El Yunque

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Wintering in numbers in the mangroves


A fairly common wintering species

ELFIN-WOODS WARBLER (Setophaga angelae) [E]

Only in the Maricao Highlands; many of you had your first look before I could even get breakfast put out.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

Most sightings were of adult males

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

A few good looks

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

Who could forget that territorial bird pecking at its own reflection in the van mirror!

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

A few here and there

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Good looks at Cambalache

ADELAIDE'S WARBLER (Setophaga adelaidae) [E]

We had point blank looks at Cambalache our first morning in the field but common in the dry forest and edges of the southwest as well

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BANANAQUIT (PUERTO RICO) (Coereba flaveola portoricensis)


YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus bryanti)

Best look was the nest-building pair as we were leaving the tower at Laguna Cartagena.

PUERTO RICAN BULLFINCH (Melopyrrha portoricensis) [E]

The cardinal-sounding endemic that was easier to hear than see; eventually all had good looks.

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor omissa)



SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus) [I]

Plenty of roadkill and one live animal at El Yunque

Totals for the tour: 112 bird taxa and 1 mammal taxa