All I knew when I went to Cuba with my second hand (but barely-used!) Birds of Cuba guide book was that I had to see the Tocororo (Priotelus temnurus), their national bird, only occurring in Cuba and quite pretty, according to the photos I saw on internet.
Why is it their national bird you say? Well, my theory (repeated by the bird guide and a few other people we met) is that it’s the only bird in the world that has the Cuban flag’s colours on it: blue, red and white. Ok, they’re also the France’s colours and the US’s colours and Slovenia’s colours but let’s not get all cranky – the bird is in Cuba, only in Cuba and it wears Cuba’s flag’s colours. So there.
Oh, there is also the slight problem that the bird isn’t technically blue, but somewhat greener, but….uhm….
When we planned our trip to Cuba, we included the Zapata peninsula only, and I say only, to fit in a whole morning tour to see the birds, because the Natural Park in Zapata is apparently the best bird watching spot in Cuba. So there we were, on the morning of the 31st, accompanied by two Alaskans and a Cuban bird guide (not El Chino, unfortunately, but a guide who was exceptionally good at his job even though he lacked the international fame of El Chino). We saw a few birds (more posts to come) but then, after barely ten minutes in the field, the tocororo!
Honestly, I never thought it could be so easy to spot. We saw a total of four different birds. Here is another one:
A while later we were stomping through the woods when we saw another one, less frightened and much, much closer.
I love it! It looks like a chubby pigeon my sister said. A chubby, lovely, fluffy pigeon!
Well, in some ways she’s right: it is a very cute animal to have as a national bird, isn’t it? What’s your country’s national bird??