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Birdnote®: The Cuban Tody, A Caribbean Jewel

Air Date: Week of

About the size of a hummingbird, the Cuban Tody sports brilliant, multicolored plumage. (Photo: Sandra Minotti)

A “must-see” bird for anyone traveling in the West Indies, the Cuban Tody is a tiny bird with a lot of personality. In this week’s BirdNote, Michael Stein introduces us to these striking Cuban natives.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

CURWOOD: In the woodlands of the West Indies lives the Cuban Tody, a tiny bird no bigger than a cigar. But as Michael Stein tells us in today’s BirdNote, the little Tody has a voracious appetite for flying insects.

[Call of Cuban Tody]

This staccato call comes from the throat of a Cuban Tody. [Call of Cuban Tody]…
A bird that’s almost indescribably cute – and the top of the "must-see" list of any birder heading for the West Indies. Because although it’s not much bigger than a hum-mingbird, a Cuban Tody packs a lot of pizzazz into its tiny body.


It’s big-headed. Short-tailed. Brilliant leaf-green with a geranium-red throat. And as if that weren’t enough to be noticed, the Cuban species features a touch of blue on the sides of its throat. Its long, flattened bill looks like it’s built for insect-catching. And indeed it is.

Living in the woodlands of Cuba, todies make whirring noises with their wings when hunting for insects. (Photo: Rodrigo Medel)

In woodlands throughout the island of Cuba, Todies are terrific foragers. In fact, their Puerto Rican cousins have been known to catch up to one or two insects a minute, hunting from dawn to dusk. Their wings make an audible whirring sound each time they do this, and you may find a Tody just by listening for that sound.

[Call of Cuban Tody and music]

I’m Michael Stein.

Written by Dennis Paulson
Music and bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Orni-thology, Ithaca, New York. 'Traditional Cuban Music' 62981 recorded on the roof of the Libertad Hotel, Santiago by Gregory F Budney; Cuban Tody 112183 recorded by Gregory F Budney.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org September 2018 Narrator: Michael Stein


CURWOOD: For pictures, migrate over to our website L-O-E dot O-R-G



Learn more on the BirdNote website

The Cuban Tody at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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