Discover the Unique National Bird of Puerto Rico

If you go to Puerto Rico you might notice images here and there of a small bird with two white stripes running across its face. This is the Reina Mora – or Puerto Rican Spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis) – the national bird of Puerto Rico. The bird is widespread on the island and plays an important role in seed dispersal and plant reproduction. Thus, it is a vital part of the Puerto Rican ecosystem and the bird is cherished by all sorts of nature lovers in Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican Spindalis is a member of the tanager bird species and is endemic to Puerto Rico. It is easily spotted by the two white stripes that run across the bird’s black head, one below the eye and one above it. The males are more brightly colored than the females, with a bright orange neck and chest, and gray or black wings which are tipped with small white stripes. The female has far less color, being only a dull olive-green and with barely noticeable white stripes on the tips of her wings. The males are lighter, but bigger than the females and the average wingspan for a male is 85 millimeters. The Puerto Rican Spindalis feeds primarily on fruit and it enjoys a variety of fruits found across the island. However, they will also feed on insects and lizards when they are able to. Man has had an impact on the Reina Mora’s natural environment and today they are often found in plantations instead of in the El Yunque Nature Reserve. They also tend to frequent gardens and can be enticed into houses by being offered sugar. In fact, probably the only place you wont find this little bird is at an elevation higher than 1000 meters above sea level.

The Spindalis of Puerto Rico also has a great way of defending its young or its eggs. Often these birds will nest nearby each other. This enables them to ‘mob’ predators in an effort to deter them from attacking their nests. They will even try to mob snakes, such as the Puerto Rican Boa, so as to protect their nests. Whether or not this behavior is successful will depend largely on the predator and the fierceness of their attacks. So the next time you visit the island or any of its beautiful destinations, keep an eye out for this fascinating little bird. Clearly the Puerto Rican Spindalis was a great choice as the national bird of Puerto Rico.