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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: Birds and Tourism

The Cuban archipelago, full of natural attractions in an environment composed of more than 4,000 keys and islets, is a major tourist destination for bird-watching enthusiasts.

Sun, beaches, culture, traditions and history are combined with an increasingly demanded offer of nature, favored by the existence of several natural, ecological and biosphere reserves, as well as protected areas and national parks.

Cuba's birds are diverse, with more than 350 species living on islets and keys, especially marine birds and those inhabiting the country's forests, all of which are marked by a high level of endemism.

Considering Cuba's location, 216 species that belong to different categories of migratory birds have been identified on their transit or during their winter stay on the Caribbean island.

In that important world of bird watching, 190 species of birds, 95 of which nest in Cuba, have been identified in the Guanahacabibes National Park.

The Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, in western Cuba, is inhabited by 93 species of birds, 62 of which nest in Cuba and 31 belong to different categories of migratory birds.

Guanahacabibes. Sea bird.

The best period for bird watching in Cuba is between November and March, when the temperature is fresher and the plagues of insects are less aggressive.

A large number and variety of birds, especially during the winter, benefit from the rivers, lagoons, dams and keys to nest in Cuba.

The island nation is the home to the singular "zunzuncito" or bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), which has been described as the smallest bird in the world and takes a horizontal position to suck the nectar from flowers. The bird is 60 millimeters long and has been found in isolated forests.

Another Cuban species, very attractive due to its bright colors, is the parrot, which lives in the Zapata Swamp, Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) and the Guamhuaya mountain range, in the central part of the country.

Parrots have the ability to imitate the human voice and they can learn some words and are easy to domesticate.

The islets of Jardines del Rey (King's Gardens) are home to more than 200 species of birds belonging to 14 genuses, including migratory, land and endemic birds, so they have a great potential for nature tourism in the region.

The keys provide permanent or temporary shelter to birds, both native to Cuba and those from faraway territories that are looking for a warmer weather.

In that environment, some 230 varieties of birds have been identified, more than 60 percent of those registered in Cuba and a large number of migratory birds, due to the existence of a major international corridor.

Every year, thousands of foreign tourists come to Cuba to watch birds, thus the importance of safeguarding the environment where they live and embellish the landscape with their singing and colorful plumage.

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