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A One-on-One Experience with Nature in Florida, Puerto Rico

Birds and their Neighbors Living along Karstic Walls
Publication of Discovery: Dec. 31, 2016
Issue: December, 2016

Besides regular tours, travelers and locals may enjoy visiting beautiful surroundings in a natural area while conducting volunteer work. Para La Naturaleza, a Puerto Rico nonprofit organization, provides the opportunity to engage in hiking and bird watching experiences while monitoring the bird species in a particular area. Though this experience is not a guided tour, participants may benefit from visiting a protected area, learning about the fauna and flora therein, and the satisfaction of contributing their work for environmental purposes.

In order to do our bit as volunteers, we decided to engage in a migratory bird count in the Luyando Farm (Finca Luyando) located in Puerto Rico’s Northern Karst Region, specifically in the Municipality of Florida.

To begin with, Alcides Morales demonstrated how to properly use the binoculars he provided for purposes of bird watching. We had the chance to practice what we learned prior to greeting the birds. For tips about the use of binoculars, please read the “tips” subsection.

As soon as we were ready to start the bird count, Alcides began calling the birds. Suddenly, we saw the Ovenbird (“Seiurus aurocapilla”) (“Pizpita Dorada” in Spanish), as identified by Alcides. To our surprise, our hostess was one of the migratory birds that we watched in Luyando Farm. The Ovenbird slowly walked on the mud and seemed curious about Alcides’ calls.

Then we encountered an interesting scenery—an endemic bird, the Green Mango (“Anthracothorax viridis”) (“Zumbador Verde” in Spanish), and a native bird, Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola”)(“Reinita Común” in Spanish) next to the exotic African Tulip tree (“Spathodea campanulata”). The Bananaquit was pecking the African Tulip flower’s petals in order to drink water while the Green Mango was searching for the flowers’ nectar as it pollinated these.

We were fully surrounded by nature while we hiked up a limestone hill. The sightseeing view was impressive—water was flowing from the interior of the hill’s bottom, creating a stream that flows into the Encantado River. Also, a cavity in the limestone wall caught our attention as it had stalactite formations.

Besides endemic and native birds, other migratory birds seen by the group, in general, were the Black-whiskered Vireo (“Vireo altiloquus”) (“Julián Chiví” in Spanish), the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) (“Candelita” in Spanish), and the Northern Parula (“Setophaga americana”) (“Reinita Pechidorada” in Spanish), as identified by Alcides. What are the chances that migratory birds welcome and farewell us during a migratory bird count experience? The Ovenbird greeted us as we began our recreation and the Northern Parula was the last bird seen during our visit to Luyando Farm.

The nature surroundings and the coqui frogs singing relaxed us, making us feel a one-on-one experience with nature. We were delighted as we watched an amazing spider and its web, the endemic Puerto Rican Bullfinch, Anolis lizards, snails, the Common Coqui, and the Mountain Coqui. In addition, we admired flora such as a grapefruit tree, the Espino rubial tree, the Ortiga Brava plant and a variety of pretty flowers.

By the end of the hike, Alcides informed the 22 bird species that the group identified in the protected area. Four of these birds were identified as migratory birds. According to Alcides, birds migrate to Puerto Rico during the period of October to March.

For those interested in hiking and bird watching, you may contact Para La Naturaleza to make reservations to participate in volunteer bird count activities. T: (787) 722-5834. W:

Translated by: N. Michelle Rodríguez Amadeo

tour provider: Para La Naturaleza
book here
where the crew ate: Gustitos Criollos
photograph by: Melba Ayala

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all details with the pertinent businesses before planning your trip. Please be cautious. The company behind this publication assumes no responsibility for your safety when participating in the activities mentioned in this article. You are responsible for confirming whether you are capable of participating in any of these activities or tours, regardless of the effort level or any other information provided in this website.


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Melba Ayala, San Juan, PR: “To participate in a bird count gave me the opportunity to implement my bird watching techniques. It was definitely worthy to collaborate with Para La Naturaleza.” (translation ours).


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