Venezuela, Summer 2008 Birding Trip Report - Part 1 of many - Arrival Home » Forums » Birding » Trip Reports

This is a work-in-progress. XZX indicates unfinshed.

Venezuela has close to 1400 species of birds including 46 endemics. I had visited Venezuela twice, but before I was interested in birds and photography. One should always read the state department bulletin before traveling to another country. The one for Venezuela is very scary, and indeed the security situation in this country should be taken seriously (more below). Another thing is the currency. Venezuela has recently had an inflation problem, but the foreign exchange rates were not adjusted, so the difference between the offical exchange rate and the black-market rate is more than ever. And the weak dollar doesn´t help. One solution is to bring dollars, which can fetch as much as 3500 Bolivares, compared to 2100 through the ATM's. Another is to look for foreign businessmen who want to get their money out of the country, and can give you Bolivars at a good rate through credit card or PayPal payments. One other very small note, there is one set of coins that divide the Bolivar by 1000 and another by 100; I was giving away 'centimos' in place of the older 1/1000 currency for about two weeks before I noticed.

There are two books about the birds in Venezuela. "Aves de Venezuela" appears to be discontinued, so I will purchase "Birds of Venezuela" when I return. I have not been able to obtain either here. There is also a book I saw in Argentina about all South American birds. The Birding Venezuela company that owns the search engines for these terms was totally unresponsive. One excellent site I did find is at

I always write something about recycling. In Venezuela it seems only aluminum has a chance of getting recycled. Please do whay you can to encourage hotels to recycle. Venezuela has a big problem with trash. People routinely through the trash in the street, and we found people throwing trash into the ocean.

Our first day in Caracas, my wife had a gold chain ripped from her neck. She unwisely
ran after the thief (I had heavy bags), and created such a commotion that eventally
Venezuelans stopped the man. The told us that they, the locals, were the police in that
area, and let the kid go after a few punches and after he returned my wife's items. Many people told us the kid could have just as easily shot my wife, and that robberies and shootings often occur in broad daylight. Always be very careful in Venezuela.

Having said all of this, I have travelled in perhaps half of the central and south American countries, and Venezuelans are probably the friendlist and most helpful of all.

We had plans to visit a friend in Puerto la Cruz, so only stayed in Caracas one day.
A brief visit to the Botanical Gardens showed the enormous birding potential of
Venezuela. With just one hour before closing, we saw many species, including the Great
Kiskadee, Rufous-vented Chacalaca, unidentified Parrots, Bare-eyed Thrush, and various doves and small finches. In the city the Ruddy Ground Dove and Saffron Finch are common, as are Swallows (something true throughout the country).

I do some of my best bird watching on buses, but we were required to close the curtains
on our trip to Puerto la Cruz, for security reasons. However I manged to spot a flock
of ten Scarlet Ibis overhead (the only ones I saw in East Venezuela), and an unidentified Macaw. Puerto la Cruz is an affluent city with many middle to upper class developments with security. Around our friend's development we found Tropical Mockingbirds, various Doves, Neotropic Cormorants, an unidentified Flycatcher, Bare-eyed Thrush, Carib Grackles.

We took the large four hour ferry to Ilsa Margarita. I was disappointed in not seeing many pelagic birds. Maybe a dozen Brown Booby, and countless Brown Pelican and Magnificent Frigatebirds. Neotropic Cormorants are also common and could be seen above. A group of unidentifed Swallows stayed with our boat.

Next report, Isla Margarita.