23-30 March 2003
My wife and I spent 5
lovely days birding in Aruba at the end of March 2003. Below
are some observations, comments, and suggestions.
For navigating about Aruba, I highly recommend the Berndston
and Berndston map (www.mapmyway.com). The Birds of the Netherlands
Antilles (Voous 1983) provides interesting status-and-distribution
information, but the plates are somewhat antiquated. Also, this
book is out-of-print and difficult to obtain. Hilty's (2003)
Birds of Venezuela is an excellent resource regarding possible
vagrants from South America.
Dollars are accepted everywhere, and seemingly every soul speaks
English. We stayed at the lovely Bucuti Beach Resort at Eagle
The employees there seemed to live to make our lives cozy and
pleasant. Also, being a small property, coming and going was
easy. As an added attraction, it had a lovely beach, and the
grounds served as a roost for Carib Grackles and Shiny Cowbirds.
Iguanas prowled the grounds incessantly, engaging in entertaining
head-bobbing and wattle-shaking battles. Just down the street
was Dushi's Bagels, which opened at 6am (Mon-Sat) or 7am (Sun),
providing delightful bagel-and-lox breakfasts early enough to
get to most birding spots near sunrise. The sun was up from
about 6:45 to 6:45, and no birding location was more than 30
minutes drive away. Aruba's moniker is “One Friendly Island,”
and that seemed utterly true. We usually felt most welcome and
always felt safe. The lack of endemics or a substantial list
may make Aruba seem like an unlikely birding destination, but
if you want to take the family to a great vacation spot and
get in some fun and interesting birding, I highly recommend
this island. I owe many thanks to Eddie Massiah for encouraging
me to give Aruba a try.