Puerto Rican Tody -Tile

2024 Puerto Rico Escape – Endemics and Island Birding

from $3,640
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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Challenging
  • Group Size Medium Group
All about the 2024 Puerto Rico Escape – Endemics and Island Birding Tour.

Puerto Rico, the smallest and eastern-most island of the Greater Antilles, is full of beauty and amazing avian species. Surrounded by the gorgeous blues, turquoises, and greens of the warm Caribbean waters, this island features a multitude of habitats from highland forests to coastal wetlands. Puerto Rico is often overlooked when it comes to the larger islands in the Greater Antilles. However, this island has so much to offer! With 17 endemic bird species plus a host of other great Caribbean specials, Puerto Rico is a birder’s paradise. These amazing species include Puerto Rican TodyPuerto Rican OwlPuerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, and Adelaide’s Warbler. Four of the endemics are currently red listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These include Puerto Rican Nightjar (Endangered), Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Endangered), Elfin Woods Warbler (Endangered), and Puerto Rican Amazon (Critically Endangered).

This tour takes us on a great adventure circling the entire island of Puerto Rico. Many species are specialized in certain regions of Puerto Rico, so it is important we visit all corners and spend enough time there to target them. We will begin in San Juan in the northeast section of the island. From here we will transfer across the northern coastline and down the western edge to the more relaxed town of La Parguera, stopping at places such as Rio Abajo State Forest and Maricao Forest Reserve. We will stay here for three nights, birding this area which hosts many key species. Next, we will traverse the southern coastline into El Yunque National Forest where we will stay for the final two nights of the trip. Here we will explore the southeast and eastern reserves of the island including Humacao Nature Preserve and the small town of Fajardo. Finally, we will wrap back to San Juan for the trip’s conclusion and departure home.

We offer other great tours to the Caribbean region including CubaDominican Republic, and Jamaica. All of these destinations may be combined with Puerto Rico to give a more complete exploration of the Caribbean! Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

Duration: 7 days
Limit: 4 – 8
Date: 23 – 29 February 2024
Start: San Juan, Puerto Rico
End: San Juan, Puerto Rico

US$3640 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants
Deposit: 25% of full tour price
Single supplement: US$790

We can run the same trip at a price similar to the larger group price for 2 tour participants, if they rent their own vehicle and pay for fuel – please e-mail [email protected] for details.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • Guiding fees
  • Entrance fees
  • All transport while on tour
  • Fuel/tolls
Whats not included in this tour.Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flights
  • Laundry
  • Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
  • Gratuities
  1. Day 1 Arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico

    After arrival at San Juan International Airport (SJU), you will be transferred to the hotel where a room will be reserved in your name. Some folks may want to arrive earlier in the day and explore the town of Old San Juan, full of historic buildings and culture. Some common species are likely to be encountered more casually after arriving such as Magnificent FrigatebirdGrey KingbirdWhite-winged Dove, and Bananaquit. We will gather in the lobby and head to dinner for more proper introductions and we will discuss the details of our week on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

    Overnight: San Juan

  2. Day 2 Northeast to southwest – Rio Abajo State Forest and Cambalache State Forest

    We will start off early this morning leaving the San Juan area behind and begin heading across the island. Our first morning stop will be at Cambalache State Forest, a beautiful lowland forest loaded with endemic birds. A productive morning can yield up to half of the island endemics and this area is a favorite spot for Puerto Rican BullfinchPuerto Rican Lizard CuckooPuerto Rican SpindalisAdelaide’s Warbler, and Puerto Rican Tody. In addition to the endemics, these trails are normally full of other great species such as BananaquitBlack-faced GrassquitBlack-whiskered Vireo, and Smooth-billed Ani, to name a few.

    From here we will move onto Rio Abajo State Forest which is absolutely our best site for spotting the Critically Endangered Puerto Rican Amazon (Parrot). Access to known nesting areas is not always possible due to the strict management of these birds and recent weather conditions such as hurricanes. We should hopefully be able to see some of the fine work going on in this park, aiding the conservation of these amazing birds. After exploring these two remarkable locations, we will make it to the small town of La Parguera for the evening where we will set up for the next three nights. This area is one of the last strongholds for Yellow-shouldered Blackbird and perhaps we will come across one as we get into town.

    Overnight: La Parguera

  3. Day 3 Maricao Forest Reserve and Laguna Cartagena

    After breakfast we head off to Maricao Forest Reserve, a wet mountain-forest area. Our top target here is the Endangered and range-restricted Elfin Woods Warbler. This elusive species was only discovered in 1968 and is restricted to high humidity, high altitude forests with elfin (dwarfed) trees. The trails here are an excellent place to find this fascinating bird as well as Puerto Rican OrioleScaly-naped Pigeon, and Puerto Rican Flycatcher. While the warbler may be the top target of the day, we will carefully search for the unique Puerto Rican Tanager, as this is a great area for it. This species is highly desirable to many listers as this unique bird is the only member of its genus and recently has been placed into its own family, Nesospingidae.

    After lunch we will move on to explore Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge, located in the southwest corner of the island. This area and the nearby rice fields are fantastic for waders (shorebirds) and waterbirds. Here we will target specials such as Masked Duck and West Indian Whistling Duck. This site can also be great for other wetland species including Smooth-billed AniBlack-necked StiltSoraCommon Gallinule and Glossy Ibis, plus a host of wintering warblers and some exotic species which have become established in Puerto Rico like Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Northern Red Bishop. We will return to La Parguera for dinner, always keeping our eyes peeled for Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. After dinner we will venture out in the evening in search of Puerto Rican Nightjar, located only in this region of the island.

    Overnight: La Parguera

  4. Day 4 Cabo Rojo and other southwest Puerto Rico birding

    After breakfast we will head out to Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, a great location for seabirds and shorebirds. The mudflats here should be teeming with wintering species such as Wilson’s and Semipalmated PloversBlack-necked StiltLeast Sandpiper, and Royal Tern. We will head out to the lighthouse and scan the sea in hopes of spotting a White-tailed Tropicbird or Brown Booby flying close to shore. The trees in the area should be full of other great species like Caribbean ElaeniaPuerto Rican FlycatcherGrey Kingbird, and the established exotic Venezuelan Troupial.

    The afternoon will be a free one with our birding dependent on how we have faired with endemics and other Caribbean species thus far. Some folks may want to enjoy an afternoon around the town of La Parguera, certainly a fine and relaxing option. Others may want to venture out to other nearby birding locations for species such as Puerto Rican WoodpeckerPuerto Rican VireoPearly-eyed ThrasherGreen MangoPuerto Rican Emerald, and Puerto Rican Spindalis or any other species we may still be lacking. After dinner gives us another chance for Puerto Rican Nightjar and Puerto Rican Owl in case of a miss or bad weather the previous night.

    Overnight: La Parguera

  5. Day 5 Southern edge of Puerto Rico to El Yunque National Forest

    This morning we will enjoy our final breakfast in the southwest portion of Puerto Rico before loading up and heading east across the island with a few birding stops planned. First up will be  Aguirre State Forest, a coastal mangrove forest. Here is our first chance at spotting Antillean Crested Hummingbird plus other nice species including Mangrove CuckooPrairie and Adelaide’s Warblers, and Pearly-eyed Thrasher. From here we will cut north through the center of Puerto Rico and into the mountains in search of the Near Threatened and range-restricted Plain Pigeon. We will also keep our eyes peeled for any endemics we might be missing at this point, if any, such as Green Mango and Puerto Rican Spindalis. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a relaxing walk around our lodging in El Yunque National Forest, full of scenic trails and waterfalls.

    Overnight: Casa Cubuy

  6. Day 6 Humacao Nature Preserve to Fajardo

    After breakfast we will head off to Humacao Nature Preserve, a great area of wetlands and flowering trees, typically loaded with birds. Here we will search for both Green-throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird which are mostly restricted to the eastern areas of the island. Unfortunately, they have become scarcer due to recent hurricanes that have swept through Puerto Rico. In addition to the hummers, we will be on the lookout for other great species including White-cheeked PintailPuerto Rican Flycatcher, and Mangrove Cuckoo. From here we will head to the town of Fajardo for lunch next to the ocean. Here we will continue searching for those two hummingbirds and will scan the sea for Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Booby.

    In the afternoon we will head back to El Yunque to continue birding the trails around our lodge hopefully digging up nice species including Loggerhead Kingbird (Puerto Rican subspecies), Red-legged Thrush, and Puerto Rican Tanager. The evening will provide an optional outing for Puerto Rican Owl on our final night of the tour.

    Overnight: Casa Cubuy

  7. Day 7 Departure from San Juan

    After breakfast, and potentially some morning birding, we will load up and head back to the San Juan Airport to catch flights home. We strongly recommend flights departing after noon to allow enough time to transfer to the airport (approx. 1hr 15min drive).  This will be the final trek on what was surely an amazing week spent in the paradise of Puerto Rico!

    Be sure to check out our other tours in the Caribbean region, easily combinable with this one: Cuba – Endemics and Cultural ParadiseDominican Republic – Complete DR Experience and Jamaica – Island Endemics in the Heart of the Caribbean.


    Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides, and other factors. In addition, we occasionally need to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

  1. Will we do any birding the first day?

    Perhaps! – Assuming that everyone’s flight arrives before dark. One of our first targets is only a few minutes from from the airport.

  2. How should I dress for the tour?

    Check the weather for the destination as close to your departure date as possible, and dress accordingly for your comfort level. You can also review our What to Bring page for more information.

  3. Besides clothes, what do I need to bring?

    There are many items the will be useful to you while on a Bird Treks tour. We have put together our list of recommendations on the What to Bring page.

  4. What language are tours conducted in?

    Our tours are all conducted in English, but we do have some experience working with client that don’t speak English well – Some English would be needed for safety reasons. In locations where another language is predominately spoken, a native guide may accompany the tour.

  5. Can you help me book flights?

    Yes, we will always try our best to help with anything at all! We’re here to serve you. However, it is usually easier if you book your flight through your own travel agent as we can’t always get the best deals from your particular country. But we will help whenever needed!

  6. Can you book accommodation for us the night before the tour starts or the night the tour ends?

    While Day 1 is usually a travel (arrival) day, and the last day of the tour is usually also a travel day (departure), many people do like to arrive early and/or leave late. We can indeed book extra nights before and after the trip, and we in fact recommend you let us book them, as it avoids confusion and allows us to book the accommodation that is most convenient for the tour.

    NOTE: Most often it is the same hotel or lodge that you use on the first night of the tour, but in some instances, it could be an airport hotel or an accommodation establishment where the guide is staying.

  7. Do you provide trip insurance?

    No, we do not. We find that it is better for trip participants to purchase their own medical, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance through their own insurance provider in the country they reside in. We expect all tour participants to have comprehensive insurance, and we encourage everyone to send us a copy of their insurance documents.

  8. Are meals included?

    For most tours, meals are included in the tour price. This may include a hotel-provided breakfast, or guide-provided box lunches. For dinners, we strive to find interesting and delicious local restaurants – this allows us to give back to the local economy, and find exciting new place to eat.