Hispaniolan Birds

For Birdwatchers and others interested in discovering the avian diversity and beauty of the island of Hispaniola!

by Steve & Sandra Brauning, long-time residents of the Dominican Republic

 Hispaniolan Trogon                                          <-  Two of the 31 Island Endemics  ->                                                                     Antillean Piculet        

A highland species, found exclusively in remote, undisturbed areas.                                                                                      This is a widespread but elusive species, usually only located by voice.       

(Photo by Cursorius)                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Photo by Miguel Angel Landestoy)

  Would you like to come and try to see these and other cool birds?

Contact us well ahead of time to plan a trip!

We participate in the annual Christmas bird count, which we just did Jan. 3-5, 2021. We'll be planning for the next one and want to invite visitors to this page to consider joining us. It's a great opportunity to get into some of the best habitat on the island and see many of the endemics. And you don't have to pay for a tour, just your expenses. Please contact us well ahead of time, and we'll see if we can make it work.

Before you start planning your birding trip to the DR and/or Haiti, consider the following:

1. There are very few guides or tours available, so please start planning early, months in advance. To really cover the ground with a chance to see all the endemics, plan on at least 5 full days.

2. Click on the link above to our page "Why bird-watch Hispaniola?" and read it thoroughly.

3. Order "Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti" by Steven Latta et. al. Check Amazon or eBay. (out of print and very expensive).

 

4. If you plan any self-guided birding, or just want more thorough information, order "Ruta Barrancoli" by Steven Latta and Kate Wallace. It is an excellent resource for planning your birding trip to the Dominican Republic.

 


 This book is available on Amazon  and/or eBay (unfortunately, it's out print so if available, is outragously expensive).

It may be available from the author, Steven Latta, and from the National Aviary.

NOTE: we are not professional or full-time bird-watching guides. We are bird-enthusiasts who have studied the birds in the DR for over 25 years, and are willing to assist bird-watchers to see these marvelous creatures. We will help you connect to guides and logistical contacts, as well as to plan self-guided birding.

 

Christmas Bird Counts are a good way to bird in the Dominican Republic while supporting a local conservation - contact us well ahead of time to see if we can schedule it for 2017. 
Christmas Bird Counts are a good way to bird in the Dominican Republic while supporting a local conservation - contact us well ahead of time to see if we can schedule it for 2017. 
Christmas Bird Counts are a good way to bird in the Dominican Republic while supporting a local conservation - contact us well ahead of time to see if we can schedule it for 2017. 

Urban Birding Hotspots in and around Santo Domingo

If you're a beginning birder, a first-time visitor to the DR, or an experienced birder needing to pick up a few species, then visiting urban birding hotspots in Santo Domingo could be your cup of coffee (Santo Domingo coffee of course).

Your first location should be the National Botanical Gardens, el Jardín Botánico Nacional in Santo Domingo. It is quite appropriately the first stop on the "Ruta Barrancolí", the Dominican Republic Bird Trail. This one-sq mile oasis of green is located within the city limits and easily accessible and well known, so arriving by car (use Google maps) or taxi (everybody knows where it is) is no problem.

>Recommended for a 3-to-4 hr. visit.  

>Hours: 9:00AM to 5:00PM – but as a bird-watcher you should be able to enter any time after 6 AM with binoculars in hand. If you are refused entry, you can explain that you will be looking at birds (mirando las aves), and will pay upon exiting (pagaré a salir). 

>Entrance fee: Non-Dominican citizens US$5.00 

Website: www.jbn.gob.do/ (in Spanish)

The garden provides a great introduction to Dominican birds, and many of the common birds of the country, including a number of endemic species, can be found here,and a few of the more scarce species as well: especially the threatened West-Indian Whistling Duck. This is one of the few sure places to get it. 

We recommend taking the long loop that starts directly straight ahead from the entrance gate, goes down into the forested areas and along the "Gran Cañada" (follow signs, two right turns) until you loop back and come up into the more open areas. The 
Gran Cañada includes some retention ponds where the whistling-ducks can be found, as well as Least Grebes, Limpkin, sometimes Purple Galinule, etc. We have even seen Least Bittern down there. 

    

 Other locations around the city are:

>The National Zoo (Zoologico Nacional), not far from the garden with similar characteristics. Not as good for birds as the garden.

> Various parks like the Mirador Sur and the Plaza de la Cultura offer nice green areas. 

>Mirador Norte is a huge park with multiple entrances and many habitats, on the northwest side of the city, accessible from Avenida Maximo Gomez and also from Avenida Jacobo Majluta.

>The Embajador Hotel on Avenida Sarasota is a real treat: go in the late afternoon and just before sunset and be treated to an amazing display of hundreds of Hispaniolan Parakeets that roost in the large trees around the front and the parking area. This species can be seen around the city but scarce elsewhere in the country, and this is the biggest flock anywhere.

>If your willing to go a little out of the city, the Parque Ecologico Nigua, just west of Santo Domingo, is an area of lagunas, mangroves, coastal scrub, and beach is a great place to see aquatic birds: White-cheeked Pintails are resident, as are Black-necked Stilts, Brown Pelicans, and quite a few egrets/heron species. In the migratory season shorebirds can be a real hit in good numbers, plus Blue-winged Teals. The woods can be loaded w/ warblers during migratory season. Many of the common birds of the country, including a number of endemic species are there, like Broad-billed Tody, Hisp. Lizard-Cuckoo, Black-crowned Palm Tanager, etc. 

This park can be reached from any of the major highways heading west from Santo Domingo. See this Google map that starts at the Botanical Garden: https://goo.gl/maps/7N5b1EUwM8R2

The last part is tricky- following Carretera Sanchez Vieja through the town of Nigua, there's a traffic circle that you'll come out of bearing left, then 450 meters to a left turn at a little street with a chain link fence, then about 1 KM past homes and businesses and finally across from a bus depot, you'll see a wooden gate w/ a sign for the Parque Ecologico. That's where our Google map ends. It is usually open every day, starting at 7AM.

Drive in about 100 meters to the parking area. From there, go on foot down to the water's edge, and from there, you can first go either direction, left or right.

If you go right, you'll go through the woods down to the water's edge, and then along a track that goes about a kilometer parallel the water towards the SW until the end of the park. The trick is to find gaps in the thick vegetation to be able to see over the water. There is a place that normally you can cross over to the beach, although back in September 2020 the water level was so high we couldn't get across due to heavy rains. All along is good water's edge; also various kinds of forest good for appropriate birds, incl. usually quite a few warblers during the migratory season. There have been some less common migrants here like Hooded Warbler and White-eyed Vireo (Oct. 2020). There are nesting Yellow Wablers in the mangrove. We've gotten Shiny Cowbirds there too.

You can go back to the parking area and then continue for about one Km NE to the national park building and overlook. Then there's a track that circles around to the beach from there, which is worth it for picking up various shorebirds, especially during migratory season, including Wimbrels sometimes. 

 

 

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Make sure to check out our sub-pages (see menu bar, above)- full of useful information about the birds and bird-watching on the island of Hispaniola.  There are checklists, descriptions of endemics and regional species, and information about birding hotspots on this island.

More sub-pages coming soon and others still under construction!  (KEEP CHECKING BACK or E-MAIL US FOR INFO!!)

(ALGUNAS DE LAS PAGINAS ESTAN SIENDO CONSTRUIDOS TODAVIA.  EVIENOS UN CORREO ELECTRONICO PARA MAS INFORMACION!!!

-Bird sounds to hear and download

-Urban Birding Hotspot in Santo Domingo: the National Botanical Gardens El Jardin Botanico de Santo Domingo)

-Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve: highland birding accessible from both Santo Domingo and the North Coast for a day-trip. (la Reserva cientifica Ebano Verde)

-Salinas de Bani: coastal lagoons, bays, mudflats, salt-flats, mangroves, etc. 

 

External Links    Enlaces externos

>The Caribbean Birding Trail has a lot of good info for the Dominican Republic: Check out this page! https://www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org/sites/dominican-republic/

It is a joint effort including "Birds Caribbean", the National Aviary, etc. 

>Birds Caribbean -  birdscaribbean.org - science, education and conservation resources 

>The # 1 tour option for birding in the DR: www.todytours.com  Birding tour guide contacts (click on the links) Kate Wallace's "Tody Tours" page:tours, information

>Another version of the Complete list a Hispaniolan Birds (Lista Completa de Aves) 2009 version

https://exploradominicana.com/  and -www.exploraecotour.com are run by Manny Jimenez, offers birding tours and other adventure and eco-tourism. info@exploradominicana.com

> Grupo Accion Ecologica, a local NGO working with birds in research and conservation https://www.facebook.com/grupoaccionecologica/

 

"Amigos de Aves" Facebook community

Miguel Angel Landestoy - personalized tours