Top image: Ringed Kingfisher. Photo: Stephen Jay Photography
The island of Trinidad is a haven of wildlife biodiversity, rich in native animals and plants; none more vivid than its birdlife. Birds are the largest group of vertebrate with over 400 species documented (over 480 species combined between Trinidad and Tobago), the highest density of any country in the world for its size.
This is a widely known fact among both local and international bird watchers (birders), who enjoy exploring the island’s many sites to see new, exotic and elusive species. The island’s rainforests, swamps, natural savannahs, caves and coastlines are among the range of habitats inhabited by the many varied species.
The national bird of Trinidad, the Scarlet Ibis, which was recently designated an “Environmentally Sensitive Species”, is the highlight of the Caroni Swamp. While the Trinidad Piping Guan (or Pawi) and the Trinidad Mot Mot, are the island’s only two endemic birds. Another is the Oilbird, an impressive cave-dweller and the only nocturnal fruit-eating bird in the world. These are just some of the many target birds sought by birders.
Among the popular bird-watching sites and facilities are the world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre, the Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary, the Nariva Swamp, the Point-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust and Yerette Home of the Hummingbird. Each of these sites provides guided tours with emphasis on bird- watching, conservation and environmental education.
This density and diversity of birds make Trinidad one of the most popular destinations in the hemisphere for bird watching and eco-holidays. Annually, thousands of Ecotourists travel to Trinidad to photograph, research, document and enjoy its birdlife. It's a growing niche supported by a fraternity of qualified bird watching/nature guides, researchers and several environmental groups. Happy birding!