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in the
Dominican Republic

A Palmchat photographed during the
FONT Dominican Republic Tour in February 2012 

The following summaries here are given with the most-recent tours first. 
For some tours there are links below for longer narratives. Also there are links to UPCOMING TOUR ITINERARIES and lists (some with photos) of BIRDS, MAMMALS, and OTHER NATURE. 

Previous Tours:

April 2012     February 2012     April 2008     April 2007     February-March 2007

April 2006      March 2003     February-March 2001

In all, there have been 19 FONT tours in the Dominican Republic.


A Cumulative List of Dominican Republic Birds  

A List & Photo Gallery of Caribbean Birds, in 2 Parts:
Part #1: Guineafowl to Hummingbirds 
    Part #2: Trogons to Buntings 

Rare Birds of the Caribbean

Other Nature in the Dominican Republic, including: Mammals, Amphibians, Reptiles, Snails, Crabs,
Butterflies & Moths, Dragonflies & Damselflies, and Others

Mammals of the West Indies (with some photos)

Butterflies of the West Indies  (with some photos) 

Marine Life of the Caribbean_(including sea turtles, fish, corals, jellyfish, mollusks, & arthropods)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in the West Indies including the Dominican Republic

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Dominican Republic - April 2012

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

In the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, there are some most interesting birds and other nature to see and enjoy.
And that we did during our tour there in April 2012.

A number of the birds (about 30 species) are endemic to that island of Hispaniola. A number of them are rare. And others are simply good to see, such as these during the tour: the White-tailed Tropicbird, West Indian Whistling Duck, and the American Flamingo, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill. Wilson's Plover, and Mangrove Cuckoo.

Among the birds that we saw both endemic to Hispaniola and rare was the Bay-breasted Cuckoo. Also, the White-necked Crow, and the Golden Swallow. 
Earlier, in the 20th Century, neither the crow nor the swallow were Hispaniolan endemics. Now they are. The White-necked Crow was last known in Puerto Rico in the 1960s. The Golden Swallow was formerly in Jamaica.

There are two species of todies endemic to Hispaniola, the Broad-billed Tody and the Narrow-billed Tody. Both were seen nicely during the tour as was the Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo, the Hispaniolan Oriole and the Hispaniolan Spindalis.
Neither the oriole nor the spindalis were Hispaniolan endemics when we did the first FONT tour in the Dominican Republic about 20 years ago. The oriole was then part of the Black-cowled Oriole in Central America, and since then part of what was for a while the Greater Antillean Oriole.
The Hispaniolan Spindalis was part of the Stripe-headed Tanager that was also in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the Caymans, and Cozumel Island in Mexico.

A species that's endemic to Hispaniola, is also in a genus and even a family endemic to the island. It is the only species in that Hispaniolan endemic genus & family. It is the unique Palmchat.

A Palmchat during the April 2012 Dominican Republic Tour

These birds, mentioned here, were just some of the interesting birds during our April 2012 Dominican Republic Tour. In all, we found 116 species of birds.

The Dominican Republic is also a wonderful place in which to see butterflies. Nearly 200 species occur on the island, and many of them are either species or subspecies that are endemic.
A most interesting group is one of satyrs known as calistos. Radiating throughout Hispaniola are 35 species in the genus that have spread to different parts of the island. 5 other species have become established on other Caribbean islands.
During our April 2012 tour in the Dominican Republic we saw about 30 species of butterflies. Notable among them were 4 of the 8 species of swallowtails that occur on the island (4 are endemic), some swarms of Brephidium exilis isophthalma (the smallest butterfly in North America), as well as these: 
the Mosaic, Orion Cecropian, Pale Cracker, the Two-spotted Prepona (with its beautiful pale blue coloration), the Malachite, Julia, Zebra, and the Tiger Mimic-Queen. 
Both the resident Monarch and the similar Soldier were seen. Skippers included the Drury's Broken Dash, and we saw two members of that interesting calisto genus: the Godart's and the Obscure Calistos.

An Androgeus Swallowtail during the April 2012 Dominican Republic Tour

There are a tremendous number of species of amphibians and reptiles in the Dominican Republic. As many as about 170 species of amphibians and reptiles occur.
Of those an incredible 120 species are reptiles, with most, in fact nearly all, endemic to the island of Hispaniola. 
And among those, over 40 species of Hispaniolan reptiles have been described to science since the mid 20th Century.  
During our April 2012 tour, a good number of Hispaniolan reptiles were seen, mostly lizards, including various anoles, an ameiva, curlytails, and a rare iguana.
Especially nice were the Red-fanned Stout Anole (a localized species described as recently as 1975), the Hispaniolan Pale-bellied Curlytail, the  Southern Hispaniolan GreenAnole, the Hispaniolan Stout (or Large-headed) Anole, and the Hispaniolan Gracile (or Bark) Anole.
Some photos of these creatures, from the tour, can be seen in the link below, referring to "Other Nature in the Dominican Republic".  

A Hispaniolan Stout (or Large-headed) Anole
during our April 2012 Dominican Republic Tour


A Photo Gallery of Dominican Republic Nature, Scenery, & Culture
during our April 2012 FONT Tour 

Birds during FONT Dominican Republic Tours - February & April 2012


Dominican Republic - February 2012

The Hispaniolan Parakeet was one of the birds endemic to Hispaniola
that we saw during our February 2012 tour in the Dominican Republic
(photo by Marie Gardner)

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:         

Among the birds during the 18th FONT tour in the Dominican Republic, in February 2012, was one that we've never encountered previously, the Eastern Chat-Tanager, a skulker and a rarity, and one of the least observed of Hispaniolan endemic birds. 
Actually, the bird is 1 of only 3 of the over 30 Hispaniolan endemic birds that is endemic to the Dominican Republic, not occurring in Haiti, the other country on the island of Hispaniola. The other 2 Dominican Republic endemics are the rare Ridgway's Hawk and the Bay-breasted Cuckoo.
The Eastern Chat-Tanager was seen during our February 2012 tour as we spent some more time than usual in the high mountains in the middle of the country known as the Cordillera Central. We birded there mostly at an altitude of about 7,500 to 8,000 feet above sea level. The highest peak in the entire Caribbean is in that area, at 10,319 feet above sea level.
Another avian denizen that we encountered there was another bird that does not lend itself to much observation, the secretive Bicknell's Thrush. Nearly the entire population of that species winters on the island of Hispaniola, in mountainous forests composed of pines and other highland plants.
Also in that area is the only populations of the Rufous-collared Sparrow outside Central and
South America, as well as a very isolated resident population of the Pine Warbler, a species otherwise in North America and in the nearby Bahamas.

In the Dominican Republic, on Hispaniola, in the central mountains and elsewhere, there are a number of interesting birds, including endemic species and subspecies, with rarities among them, that we enjoyed during our tour, along with some other nature also endemic and rare.


A Photo Gallery of Dominican Republic Nature, Scenery, & Culture
during the February 2012 FONT Tour

A Photo Gallery of Dominican Republic Plant Life.
with some about a mile and a half above sea level,
during the February 2012 FONT Tour


Dominican Republic - March/April 2008 

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:         

During this, the 17th FONT birding & nature tour on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, we had the best look we've ever had of the Western Chat-Tanager - a wonderful look of a bird that's normally a skulker, very hard to see. Another nice sight for us a line of about a dozen Hispaniolan Crossbills, drinking at the edge of a pool of water in a pine forest. These 2 rare species were among about 120 different birds that we saw during our tour. Many of them were interesting in not only being rarities, but also as either endemic species or subspecies found nowhere else in the world other than on that single Caribbean island. Our travel, and our quest for birds, on the island took us from the sea coast, and a desert even below sea level, to an elevation as high as 7,000 feet up in the mountains, including the area in the pines where we watched the crossbills

The "Top Birds" of our March/April 2008 Dominican Republic Tour, as voted for by the participants after the tour, were:

  1 - Western Chat-Tanager
  2 - Broad-billed Tody
  3 - White-tailed Tropicbird
  4 - Hispaniolan Trogon
  5 - Golden Swallow
  6 - Hispaniolan Crossbill
  7 - American Flamingo
  8 - Northern Potoo
  9 - Antillean Piculet
10 - Least Poorwill
11 - Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo      


List of Birds during the FONT Dominican Republic Tour - March/April 2008


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (& adjacent Haiti) - April 2007

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

This was the second FONT tour in the Dominican Republic in 2007, and our 16th tour there in all. 
During this tour, we found 124 species of birds, including most of the endemics, rarities, and specialties. 
Among them were: the LaSelle Thrush, Hispaniolan Crossbill, and Golden Swallow
Always good to see, as they were again, in the Dominican Republic were: the Hispaniolan Trogon, both of the Todies (the Broad-billed & the Narrow-billed), the Antillean Piculet, and the Flat-billed Vireo
At dusk, one evening, we encountered both the Least Poorwill and the Hispaniolan Nightjar

In April, some birds that had wintered in South America had arrived such as the Antillean Nighthawk and the Least Tern. Additionally, there were migrants, and the resident breeding birds were in song on territory. 

At the shore of the large lake, Lago Enriquillo, about 200 feet below sea-level, in addition to American Flamingos and other waterbirds, there was, on land, the rare Rhinoceros Iguana


List of Birds during the FONT Dominican Republic Tour - April 2007 

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (& adjacent Haiti) - February/March 2007

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tours:

This was the 15th FONT birding & nature tour on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola, where a number of rare & endemic birds occur, along with various Caribbean specialties. 
Over 100 species of birds were found during this tour, including most of the endemics. 2 species during this tour were "new" for our cumulative Dominican Republic list, bringing it up to 185. Those 2 species were Brown Booby and Wilson's Phalarope (the latter a vagrant on Hispaniola). 
As we've done in the past, we visited the Haitian border where we saw some birds in that country. 

In addition to birds during the tour, we saw the rare Rhinoceros Iguana (endemic to Hispaniola), the Buffy Flower Bat, and a fine assortment of butterflies. (Another FONT tour Dominican Republic tour took place later in 2007 in April.) 


Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Dominican Republic Tour - February/March 2007   

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (& adjacent Haiti) - April 2006

During this, our 14th tour on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, we did well with the interesting rare & endemic birds of the island, including a number of them with the adjective "Hispaniolan". 
Notable among them was the
Hispaniolan Quail-Dove (1 of 3 quail-doves during the tour). 

On the rare Golden Swallow, a fine sight was its golden sheen in the sunlight. 
As the sun was setting one day, from a small boat with the motor off, on a lake, we looked at nicely-lit Caribbean Flamingos walking in shallow water. 
After dark, another day, we saw an Ashy-faced Owl, and then, moments later, a rarely-seen creature also endemic to Hispaniola, an odd mammal called the Hispaniolan Solenodon (over a foot-long, with a long snout & long tail, as it passed in front of our vehicle)!


More about the FONT Dominican Republic Tour in April 2006

List of Birds during our Dominican Republic Tour - April '06

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Our CARIBBEAN TOURS - February-March 2001

Again, in 2001, we had some very good birding during FONT tours in the Caribbean.

Just imagine - in the West Indies, sitting by a pool of water high in the pine-clad mountains of the Dominican Republic, and watching about a dozen Hispaniolan White-winged Crossbills drinking at the waters edge. And with them, some colorful Andean Siskins.

One day earlier, from a boat floating quietly on a nearby lake, imagine being surrounded by pink flamingos walking at times, in unison, and even-pinker Roseate Spoonbills moving their bills back-and-forth in the water as they fed, in the distance, endemic White-necked Crows were going to their evening roost in the palms.

The day before that, two species of todies, both of them bright and perky, were seen from along the same road - one in dry lowland shrub, the other in highland forest. Somewhere in between, along that road, there were in one tree, parrots, parakeets, and trogons.

Also during the Dominican Republic tour there were birds such as tiny Vervain Hummingbirds, sitting and calling atop high perches, the rare (and rarely seen) La Selle's Thrush, and the unique Palmchat.

A huge, abandoned nest of a colony of Palmchats, 
in the Dominican Republic, near the Haitian border. 
The bird is endemic to Hispaniola.
(Photo by Jennie Gaitskill, 
during FONT birding tour, March 2001.)

Not an Hispaniolan endemic bird, but particularly memorable to see during the March 2001 tour was a pair of Prothonotary Warblers in a city botanical garden, close at hand - the male displaying for the female, walking on a branch above a still stream, spreading his tail. On the water, below, there were a pair of Least Grebes, with chicks, ever so least - small bundles of striped fluff riding on the back of one of the adults.
On the other side of the stream, there stood a Limpkin

Memorable to hear, at another time during the tour, in the mountain forest, were the echoing flute-like calls of the Rufous-throated Solitaire.

The Puerto Rico Birding Tour, the previous week, had memorable moments, as well. During that tour (the 23rd Puerto Rico tour for FONT), all but one of the island's endemic birds were found - from the skulky Elfin Woods Warbler to the sometimes boisterous Lizard-Cuckoo. Other birds found included Masked Duck, on a pond with White-cheeked Pintails, and a Key West Quail-Dove.

During the FONT Jamaica Birding Tour this year, all of the endemic birds were found, including the often-elusive Jamaican Blackbird, and the Crested Quail-Dove. The latter, known locally as the "Mountain Witch", was seen very well - on the ground just feet away from us.

During our tour on the Cayman Islands, all of the bird specialties sought were found - the parrot, warbler, vireos, and bullfinch. And more from 2 to 3 hundred "rare" West Indian Whistling-Ducks

West Indian Whistling-Ducks,
many places can be hard to see, 
but not here at this pool on the Cayman Islands.
(Photo during FONT Feb. 2001 tour by Susan D'Amico)

Also seen during the FONT 2001 Cayman Islands Tour was a lone duck (actually a drake) certainly rare (more aptly, unheard of) in the Caribbean a male Baikal Teal, among many (hundreds of) Blue-winged Teal. With the Baikal behaving just as were the Blue-winged. 

A male Baikal Teal (right) with male & female Blue-winged Teals
thru a telescope during FONT birding tour
on Little Cayman Island in the Caribbean, Feb. 24, 2001.
(Photo courtesy of Susan D'Amico.)

Not far from the Baikal Teal, on Little Cayman Island (10 miles long and 1 mile wide), and certainly more expected there, were numerous Red-footed Boobies (of both color morphs) and Magnificent Frigatebirds at their breeding colonies. Some males with big red sacs. Elsewhere, White-tailed Tropicbirds were seen (in flight among the seacoast). 

Birding in the Caribbean is fun.

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in the Caribbean

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