Trinidad is not the most popular island in the Caribbean. Many people have never even heard of it. But for those of us who embrace the glory of the natural rainforest and all the creatures who live in it, it is a paradise.
Here are some of my favorite winged creatures, found while spending a week on this small island eight miles (12 km) off the Venezuela coast. Trinidad Wikipedia.
A visit to the Caroni Swamp yielded many thousands of scarlet ibis. They flock to this protected swamp at night to roost. We sat in a boat and waited for them as the sun set.
In the rainforest, nectar-drinking birds like hummingbirds and honeycreepers were plentiful.
We were fortunate to see the rare oilbirds. There are only a few places left in the world where these nocturnal birds can still be found. They use echolocation, or sound reverberation, for navigating — a system that bats use, but not usually birds.
We hiked to a specific protected cave, escorted by a guide, and because they are so skittish, we were allowed only a few minutes to peer into the darkness for them.
They squeal like pigs and are large, hawk-size birds.
Bats were also abundant in the Trinidad rainforest. One day in the middle of the day when the sun was brightest, a white bat came fluttering down the trail, pretty close to our heads. Athena and I had gotten lost in the forest, I think we had surprised the bat…as much as a white bat in the daytime surprised us. It’s whiteness lent the essence of a ghost.
But it was every evening when we saw bats in abundance. We stayed at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, where wildlife are protected and celebrated. We found a crevice under the lodge where 100+ long-tongued bats came flocking out every night.
Typical of the tropics, many species of flycatchers, trogons, and tanagers greeted us daily.
The bearded bellbird was difficult to spot in the rainforest, despite the loud croaking sound it made all day long.
Numerous species of hawks were present. This white hawk was hunting beside the trail.
The jacamar was a thrill to find, a small and colorful bird about the size of a hummingbird.
There are over 400 species of birds on this one little island; and approximately 100 indigenous mammal species, with bats accounting for over half of the mammals.
I’m glad you could join me in this glimpse of their tropical world.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.