This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

This staccato call comes from the throat of a 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 hummingbird, 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.

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.

Don’t take our word for it—to see these birds for yourself, check out our gallery at

I’m Michael Stein.



Music and bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 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

Narrator: Michael Stein

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

Written by Dennis Paulson

© 2014 Tune In to  September 2014 / September 2018

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