Bird watching

There is plenty on Trinidad to occupy a full week of birdwatching every day. Trinidad is home to some of the most diverse and spectacular bird life in the Caribbean. This variety can be attributed to the island's location on the tip of South America. Recent studies suggest the possibility that Trinidad separated from the South American Mainland as recently as 1,500 years ago! 

Trinidad and Tobago has more than 450 officially recorded birds. Some highlights include Oropendolas, Pepershrikes, Woodcreepers, Antbirds, Scarlet Ibis, Red-Breasted Blackbirds, Turquoise Tanagers, Ruby Topaz, White-necked Jacobins, and Red-legged Honeycreepers.

Many species can be seen without long drives or treks. Most famous places for bird watching are the Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Caroni Swamp.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

The Asa Wright Nature Centre is located on the Spring Hill Estate, 1200 feet above sea level, in the middle of the Northern Range hills that rise to 3,000 feet and run across the top of Trinidad. The drive from Chateau Guillaumme takes about 30 minutes.

A twisty country road north of Arima takes you up the Northern Range, the scenery is increasingly beautiful. The road passes a christophene farm - a popular local vegetable known as Chayote squash in some countries. Many acres of land are covered in net, six feet or so above the ground. The crop hangs from the nets, making for easier harvesting. The fact that the farm is surrounded by clusters of  Hindu prayer flags makes the place even more intriguing to us visitors from northern climes.

The Spring Hill Estate was originally a cocoa, coffee and citrus plantation. The plantation fell into neglect and shortly after World War II was bought by an Englishman, Newcombe Wright, and his Icelandic wife, Asa. They were keen amateur ornithologists and became close friends of American explorer and naturalist William Beebe, who purchased the adjacent plantation. The Wrights played host to the many naturalist and birdwatchers who visited the research station.

After Wright's death,  American wildlife artist, Don Eckelberry, and conservationist, Emma Fisk, led efforts to buy the 200-acre estate and convert it into a community-outreach centre. Asa agreed, on condition that the estate remained a conservation area in perpetuity. A non-profit trust under local and international management was set up in 1967. The Asa Wright Nature Centre was born.

The aim of the trust is to protect the Arima valley and to create a conservation and study area. A substantial part of the trust's income is set aside for land acquisition. The Centre now owns some 2,000 acres of land in the Arima and adjacent Aripo valleys. Over 150 species of bird have been recorded at the Asa Wright, some are: White-necked Jacobin, Collared Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Chestnut Woodpecker, Great Antshrike, Bearded Bellbird and Oilbirds.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

Take a boat ride along the blue river into the mangroves of the Caroni Swamp, and then into open water with mangrove clad islets to see the spectacular dusk arrival of about 2,000 Scarlet Ibis and herons returning from feeding grounds in Venezuela.
Other birds, that can be seen here, are: Grey Potoo, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Black-crested Antshrike or Bicoloured Conebill.

Other good places for bird watching are:

  • The Northern Range (Double-toothed Kite, Channel-billed Toucan, Black-tailed Tityra , Ornate Hawk Eagle, Golden headed Manakin, Blue-headed Parrot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Speckled and Hepatic Tanagers)
  • Heights of Aripo (White Hawk, Common Black Hawk, Violaceous and White-tailed Trogons, Purple Honeycreepers, Turquoise and Speckled Tanagers)
  • Mount St Benedict (Long-billed Starthroat, Green Hermit, Tufted Coquette, Copper-rumped Hummingbird, White-chested Emerald and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Turkey Vultures, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Common Black Hawk, White Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Grey-headed Kite, Double-tooth Kite, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Violaceous and White-tailed Trogons, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, White-flanked Antwren, Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins, Rufous-breasted Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Tropical Parula, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Blue Dacnis, Trinidad Euphonias and White-shouldered Tanagers, Little Tinamou, Orange-winged Parrot, Saltators, Scaled Pigeon, Pauraque, Tropical Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Yellow Oriole and Lesser Swallow-tail Swift)
  • Cumaca Valley mountains (Bellbirds, Woodpeckers, Zone-tailed Hawk, Blue Dacni, Collard Trogon, Green Kingfisher, toucans, White-flanked Antwren and many other desirable species)
  • Toco (Trinidad Piping Guan)
  • Valencia Stretch (Masked Yellowthroat, Stripped Cuckoo, Plain Breasted Spinetail, Greyish Saltators and Peregrine Falcons)
  • Aripo Agricultural Research Station (Savannah Hawk, Wattled Jacanas, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, White-headed Marsh, Pied Water Tyrants, Grey Kingbird, White-winged Swallow, Red-breasted Blackbird, Southern Lapwing, Stilt Sandpipers, Cocoi Heron, Striped Cuckoo and Pinnated Bittern)
  • Arena Dam (Grey Hawk, Plumbeous Kite, White-bellied Antbird, Squirrel Cuckoo, Marsh and Water Tyrants, Osprey, Neotropic Cormorant, Tree Duck, Yellow-Rumped Cacique and Rufous-tailed Jacamar)
  • Tricity Water Treatment Plant (Least Grebe, Little Blue and Striated Herons, Snowy Egret, Yellow hooded Blackbirds, Shiny Cowbirds, Yellow Oriole and wintering and migrating American shorebirds, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilts, Ringed Kingfisher and Masked Duck)
  • Wallerfied Airfield (Pale-vented Pigeon, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Sulphury and Bran-coloured Flycatchers, Masked Yellowthroat, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Moriche Oriole and occasionally Crimson-crested Woodpecker. It is good for night birds: Pauraque, White-tailed Nightjar, Nacunda Nighthawk, Tropical Screech Owl and Barn Owl)
  • Trinidad's West Coast (Limpkin and Long-winged Harrier, Neotropic Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Tricoloured Heron, Little Blue and Great Blue Heron, Striated Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Snowy and Great White Egret, Semipalmated Plover, both Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, Laughing Gulls, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns and American Black Skimmers)
  • Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust (Scarlet Ibis, Whistling Ducks, Saffron Finch, Red-capped Cardinal, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Anhinga, Black-crowned Night Heron, Osprey and Ringed Kingfisher)
  • Trinidad's East Coast (Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Common Black Hawk, Yellow-headed Caracara, Bat Falcon, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Black-crested Antshrike, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Silvered Antbird, Striated Heron, American Purple Gallinule, Red-breasted and Yellow-hooded Blackbirds, Shiny and Giant Cowbirds, Pinnated Bittern, Long-winged Harrier and Azure Gallinule)

Hummingbird sucking nectar
Bird sitting on a table
Bird watching food