Category Archives: Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo

Puerto Rico’s Endemic Birds

Puerto Rican Nightjar

Puerto Rican Nightjars are best found in the Guanica Dry Forest in southwestern Puerto Rico.

Endemic species, those species restricted to a particular region, are always a target of birders. Island nations, like Puerto Rico, are typically a location expected to have a number of endemics. Puerto Rico has about 17 endemic birds. I say about as there are a few species that are split into endemism, then lumped back in with another species found elsewhere.

Puerto Rican Woodpecker

The Puerto Rican Woodpecker reminds me of its cousin on mainland North America, the Lewis’s Woodpecker.

Not all the Puerto Rican endemics have Puerto Rican in the name… but most do! It makes sense to denote them as Puerto Rican to better separate them from other similar species found on other islands in the Caribbean. There are five species of endemic woodpeckers in the genus Melanerpes found in the Caribbean. Just one is found on Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo

Once you know where to look, the Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo seems easy to see.

Lizard cuckoos, of which there are only four species, are all found in the Caribbean. Yes, they do eat lizards. Definitely a prize to birders, the Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo can be tough to find.
Many of the endemics are threatened or endangered. They live a precarious life with a limited gene pool. As long as the ecosystem remains in balance and their habitat intact, they will be fine. The reality is that human pressure can often tip the balance so that even a minor natural disaster, like a hurricane, can cause their demise.
What for more Puerto Rican endemics in future posts… Or, see them in person during our inexpensive Endemic Dash, December 12 – 16, 2009!
photos © Kevin Loughlin