Above is a little Puerto Rican Tody, locally called 'San Pedrito'. Tiny little
birds they travel through the woods in twos, chirping to each other
as they go from branch to branch, in sight of each other or in hearing
distance. Photos above and below were taken by Father Sanchez and
he is kind enought to share them. See many many more wonderful bird
photos on his websit
families of birds are endemic to the West Indies, specifically
to the Greater Antilles. One of them is composed by the todies
(Todidae.) These are small, chunky-looking birds that superficially
resemble hummingbirds. However, their closest relatives are
kingfishers, with whom they share certain anatomical and behavioral
traits. Both groups are placed in the order Coraciiformes.
All five species of todies are bright emerald-green above
and have a scarlet-red throat. Their breasts, flanks, and
bellies show different colors - combinations of gray, pink,
yellow, blue - depending on the species. Their nests consist
of burrows with terminal chambers, excavated in earthen banks
in both xeric and mesic forests. The family was not always
endemic to the Antilles, and it is a relict taxon: all that
is left of a formerly more abundant and widespread group.
There are fossil records of todids from North America where,
in fact, they probably evolved. Only Hispaniola has two species.
The other three are found, one each, in Cuba, Jamaica, and
Puerto Rico. Together, extant todies comprise a single superspecies.
Todies are voracious animals that are almost exclusively insectivorous.
Their constant activity and prodigious appetites force them
to consume one insect almost every minute of the daytime hours.
Their usual hunting technique consists of sallying out from
a perch, capture an insect located on a leaf, twig, or in
mid-air, and land on another perch, all in one neat, graceful
movement. Like hummingbirds, when they cannot feed (at night
or during prolonged periods of heavy rain) todies lower their
metabolisms and temperatures to conserve energy.
Their habit of sitting motionless between sallies to catch
an insect make them difficult to detect visually amongst the
foliage. They are far easier to hear than to see, although
they are not precisely distinguished for their vocal abilities.
Their raspy and monotonous "neeet" or "prrrrrrreeet"
calls and the rattling sound made with their wings during
their short flights give away their presence. Extremely tame
creatures that they are, they will often allow a human to
approach them within a couple of meters. " Father Sanchez.
Sanchez Nature Website
Pitirre Nest with two young birds. Endemic 'Puerto Rican Flycatchers'. Photo: Elena
Another good resource for birdging in PR 'Field Guides'
A male Pin-tailed Whydah (Viuda Colicinta) almost in full breeding plumage,
( introduced to Puerto Rico in the 1950's. )
Mangrove Cuckoos, Vieques, in Bayahonda Trees.
Photos of Mangrove Cuckoos
Great White Egret, fairly common. Photo Elena
A wonderful website of bird photos in a bird 'journal' (not Puerto Rico)
Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge
are 17 endemic species of birds in Puerto Rico and many other birds
that stop on the island on their migration routes.
The endangered species Puerto Rican Parrot (amazona vitatta)
below right lives only in a few hidden areas of the El Yunque National
Forest. There are presently approximately
170 birds alive, but only about 60 in the wild. Figure is up from
about 11-16 birds in 1968 see article on the El Yunque News
Sanchez has the most wonderful
website full of great bird photos ( and much more). This link
will open in a new window. Click on AVIAN on the left guide bar
for bird photos.