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  • Photograph of Palmchat

    The endemic Palmchat in Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens by Dubi Shapiro.

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Best Wildlife in the Dominican Republic

    Mammals
    Humpback Whale (Dec-Apr, mostly Jan-Mar). Also a chance of Sperm, Pygmy Sperm and False Killer Whales, and (Atlantic) Bottlenose, Fraser’s, Risso’s, Spinner and (Atlantic) Spotted Dolphins, and an outside chance of Hispaniolan Solenodon and Hutia (both most likely in the dry season, especially late January, near Pedernales, when they can be heard rustling the dead leaves).

    Birds
    The species lists below are for the northern winter.

    Hispaniolan Endemics
    Palmchat, Ridgway's Hawk, Hispaniolan Parakeet, Hispaniolan Parrot, White-fronted (Grey-headed) Quail Dove, Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo, Bay-breasted Cuckoo, Ashy-faced Owl, Least Poorwill (Pauraque), Hispaniolan (Greater Antillean) Nightjar, Hispaniolan Emerald, Hispaniolan Trogon, Broad-billed and Narrow-billed Todies, Antillean Piculet, Hispaniolan Woodpecker, Golden Swallow (now probably extinct on Jamaica), Hispaniolan Pewee, Flat-billed Vireo, Hispaniolan Palm and White-necked Crows, La Selle Thrush, Green-tailed Ground Tanager (Warbler), Hispaniolan Mountain Tanager (White-winged Warbler), Black-crowned Palm Tanager, Eastern and Western Chat Tanagers, Hispaniolan Spindalis (Stripe-headed Tanager), Hispaniolan (Greater Antillean) Oriole, Hispaniolan Crossbill and Antillean Siskin. (Grey-crowned Palm Tanager is now thought to occur only in Haiti).

    Caribbean Endemics
    West Indian Whistling Duck, Plain Pigeon, Key West Quail Dove, Antillean Palm Swift, Vervain Hummingbird, Antillean Mango, Loggerhead Kingbird, Rufous-throated Solitaire, Red-legged Thrush, Antillean Euphonia, Greater Antillean Bullfinch and Greater Antillean Grackle.

    Others
    White-tailed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, White-cheeked Pintail, Brown Pelican, Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons, Turkey Vulture, Purple Gallinule, wintering and passage migrant shorebirds, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Scaly-naped and White-crowned Pigeons, Zenaida Dove, Mangrove Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Antillean Nighthawk, Northern Mockingbird, Pine and Yellow (Golden) Warblers, and Bananaquit. Also a chance of American (Caribbean) Flamingo, Reddish Egret (white morph), Roseate Spoonbill, Limpkin, Northern Potoo, and wintering/passage migrant passerines such as Bicknell’s Thrush, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Cape May and Prairie Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird and Common Yellowthroat.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Dwarf Gecko, the world's smallest lizard, occurs in Jaragua National Park.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Dominican Republic

    Photograph of Black-crowned Palm Tanager

    A Black-crowned Palm Tanager in Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens by Dubi Shapiro.


    Best Times for Wildlife in the Dominican Republic

    Humpback Whales are usually present from December to mid-April with the peak time to swim with them being January to March. Female whales usually give birth in February so March is a good time to see mothers with calves. The best time for birds is usually mid-February to mid-April at the beginning of the breeding season.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Dominican Republic

    Ruta Barrancoli: A Bird-Finding Guide to the Dominican Republic by S C Latta and K J Wallace. 2012. Available from steven.latta@aviary.org or National Aviary, Allegheny Commons West, Pittsburgh, PA 15212-5248, USA.

    Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti by S C Latta et al. Helm/Princeton University Press, 2006.

    Collins Field Guide: Birds of the West Indies by N Arlott. Harper Collins, 2010.

    Birds of the West Indies by H Raffaele et al. Helm, 1998.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. Originally published in 1936 by the Academy of Natural Sciences and reprinted many times since by several publishers including Collins and Houghton Mifflin.

    National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes by C L Smith. Alfred A Knopf, 1997.

    Butterflies of the Caribbean and Florida by P Stiling. Macmillan Caribbean, 1999.


    Apps etc.


    The Birds of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    Where to watch birds in Central America & the Caribbean by N Wheatley and D Brewer. Helm, 2001.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in the Caribbean? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author and David Brewer. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for the Dominican Republic

    Many trip reports, some for the Dominican Republic, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Dominican Republic. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Dominican Republic' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Dominican Republic

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in the Dominican Republic

    Some Organized Tours to the Dominican Republic

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Dominican Republic in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.