El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest aka the Caribbean National Forest  is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System.  It is home to the highly endangered Puerto Rican Parrot, but actually finding them in the vast forest will be quite a challenge.  First, you will need to get to El Yunque.  I recommend hiring a car so you can get there as early as possible.  If you are staying in San Juan at one of the hotels on points, it will be about an hour’s drive, 58 km.

San Juan to El Yunque

A better idea would be to stay in an eco-lodge in the rainforest.   Since I haven’t been there (yet) personally, I looked at Trip Advisor to see which lodges were getting good reviews, 3 of them were all rated very highly.

Villa Sevilla

Rainforest Inn

La Paloma (no website found)

I highly recommend using a specialist bird guide.  I like the looks of Adventours who also have the Birding Puerto Rico site and seem to have years of experience, locally owned and operated and dedicated to conservation.   Parrots are most vocal in the early morning and late afternoon and tracking them by sound is your best bet.  Since the population of parrots is so small, you will need a local guide who is familiar with the habits of the parrots but as always with birding, there is no guarantees.  Birding Puerto Rico recommends the Arecibo area for your best odds to see the Puerto Rican Amazon.   Also worth noting is that they have special permission to enter the national park early and leave later than you normally can.

El Yunque National Forest – Only 45 minute drive from
San Juan, El Yunque is a must see nature wonder.  We
have special permits to go birding to the Forest before
and after the gates are open/close to the general public.
On previous full-day birding trips we have spotted 16 of
our 17 endemic species.

Be sure to support the local conservation projects while you are there.

This group in the video below only got to see the nest boxes put up by research scientists, although to be fair it looks more like a generic rainforest tour than a group of birders.