Cuba, shelter and sanctuary for migratory birds
By Alina Veranes
International Migratory Bird Day is about to arrive, on the second Saturday of October, on our continent and in our country. Important moments are taking place in the life cycles of these wonderful creatures, with an outstanding role, for themselves and for health of our beautiful Blue House.
The Cuban archipelago treasures one of the greatest biodiversities within the kingdom of birds in the insular Caribbean and at the same time, its skies are air corridors and its diverse natural habitats are reservoirs of shelter, food and reproduction of valuable passing species, of northern origin. The harshness of winters in their usual lands force them to emigrate to the warm tropical regions, as a ritual, every year, ancestrally.
At the end of November, when the cyclonic season ends in the regional basin, the time of migratory flights also arrives and the species are already on prodigal soil. They have made tough journeys, sometimes amidst tropical storms, droughts, and strong winds or driving breezes. Nothing stops them until that moment, although individuals of the heroic flocks fail to complete their journey.
Data disclosed in the media indicates that tens of thousands of individuals of some 224 species pass winter in the Pearl of the Caribbean, while others, after replenishing their strength with a traffic stop, continue their usual route to the south, or to other Antillean islands, or towards the subcontinent.
Cuba offers them the refuge of its forests, coasts, mangroves and even urban communities. They travel enormous distances, generally following the east coast, from Canada and the United States to the south. Even with the loss of life, most can successfully complete the journey imposed by nature for survival. They deserve the oases of the keys of the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago, in the center-east of the country, the peninsulas of Hicacos and Guanahacabibes, in the West, and Gibara in the easternmost zone, which are among the main arrival areas.
Those that remain on the island usually travel to the Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountain system, in the far east; the Guamuhaya mountain range, the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago and the Ciénaga de Zapata, in the center; and the Guaniguanico mountain range, in the west. With the good food and rest acquired on Cuban farms, they are again ready to return to their original landscapes, with brighter and more beautiful plumage and more developed as individuals.