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Meet The Tocororo, Cuba’s National Bird

This red-and-blue species, endemic to the island, is noted for being unable to live in captivity.

The tocororo,  also known as the Cuban trogon, is one of Cuba’s national birds. It characterizes and exalts the beauty of the island country.

The distinct colors of its plumage, where blue, red and white stand out — the same colors on the flag of the Caribbean nation — make this bird a national symbol.

This bird can remain perched for a long time. When it takes off, it does so simply, without any complex moves, flapping its wings noisily.

It is a difficult bird to have in captivity.

They do not adapt to new environments easily, which can lead them to lose their feathers and destroy their visual appeal.

The exotic tocororo was selected as Cuba national bird because it resists living in captivity, in addition of sharing the colors of the national flag.

Today, several Cuban online protest groups, as well as expat groups, use the bird as a symbol of freedom. Thus, both the government and Cuban citizens, as well as dissidents, admire it.

Just like the tocororo’s cry, the cry of Freedom of Cuban expats ring the loudest.

The bird can be found in places such as Escambray, Sierra de los Órganos, Ciénega de Zapata, Isla de la Juventud, or in Sierra Maestra. There are also some in the Lomas de Banao Ecological Reserve. The reserve has one of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, known as Guamuhaya Massif.

During spring, the tocororo migrates, due to its mating habits.

The reserve is located 12 miles from the city of Sancti Spíritus, one of the seven original villages founded by the Spanish. It is a place with great national value, due to its preservation of the country’s biodiversity. The mountainous rainforest of the region stands out, given its numerous ecosystems.

These areas have been the bird’s habitat for thousands of years and even today, people can still hear its cry “to-co-ro-ro,” multiplied by thousands of birds.

The tocororo is Cuba’s national bird and has the same colors as the country’s flag. (David Pennington/Unsplash)

Its name comes from the onomatopoeic sound of its cry.

There are many myths and legends surrounding the species, such as the one about beautiful Taína, a prisoner who refused to live without freedom and who was turned into a tocororo by the goddess Atabey, deity of the moon, sea, fertility and birth, in order to escape her prison.

Tocororos are closely related to Guatemalan quetzals, though this Cuban bird is exclusive to the island. They are insectivorous and meek in character.

Ecological scientists affirm that deforestation is the main danger to these birds, even more than their inability to live in captivity. Other endemic birds in Cuba are the cartacuba, the tomeguín del pinar, Sijú platanero, sinsontillo, parrot and the catey.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Fern Siegel)