Tourists come to Puerto Rico throughout the year, most often from cruise ships. While there are many things to do while on the island, birding in Puerto Rico definitely should not be missed.
Puerto Rico is a beautiful collection of islands. Most people think of Puerto Rico as one large island. In fact, there is the island of Puerto Rico and the territory of Puerto Rico. The territory, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, actually consists of one large island and several small islands, some of which are uninhabited.
Puerto Rico is ideal for birding because the temperature remains fairly constant. Bird watchers can expect temperatures in the low eighties for most of the year. The lack of seasons makes it possible to enjoy the hobby year round. Over fifty species of birds can be seen on the island, some of which are native to Puerto Rico. Birding can be done throughout the island, although some spots are more popular than others. Cabo Rojo Recreational area is in the Southwest. There is a Wildlife Refuge located there with quality bird watching trails. Visitors have the opportunity to see several endangered birds. There is a visitor’s center which can provide information and guidance. Cabo Rojo is also a great place for swimming as it has a beautiful white sand beach. There is also a lighthouse which was constructed in 1881. The view from the lighthouse, which overlooks a 200 foot drop down to the sea, is breathtaking.
For many, the Puerto Rican Amazon is one of the main attractions when going birding in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Amazon is the only parrot that is native to Puerto Rico which still remains. It is extremely endangered, and is on the list of the ten most endangered species of birds in the entire world. In the wild, it is estimated that only forty-four of these birds still exist.
The Puerto Rican Amazon is a green parrot whose feathers have blue edges. Its forehead is red and its eyes are surrounded by white ovals. Its tail is a yellow-green. As with many parrots, it is impossible to distinguish the males from the females, except through DNA testing or by observing their behavior during mating. At one time, the Puerto Rican Amazon was seen in vast numbers. As the number of humans began to increase on Puerto Rico, the number of Puerto Rican Amazons began to fall quickly. In 1975, the birds reached an all time low, with only 13 left in the world. Conservation efforts began in 1968 and in 1972, attempts to breed the birds in captivity began. These efforts have been largely successful. When Hurricane Hugo struck Puerto Rico in 1989, many birds were lost, but now the population is growing and efforts to protect the birds continue.