As we head deeper into winter in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s take a few minutes to frolic in the tropics. Trinidad is called Land of the Hummingbird–here are some of the beautiful birds and butterflies we have seen there.
Trinidad is an island in the Caribbean Sea less than 10 miles (16km) off South America’s Venezuelan coast.
Read more about Trinidad here: Trinidad Wikipedia.
Although Trinidad’s primary industry is oil and gas, parts of the island are rainforest and plantations. You can see from this photo below how extensive the tree canopy is.
And now we will go below the canopy to find thriving birds in every color of the rainbow. We’ll start with a few of the hummingbirds.
We have 15 species of hummingbirds living in our very large country of America. In the small dual-island nation of Trinidad-Tobago, with an area of less than 2,000 sq. miles (5,131 km2), there are more hummingbird species than in all the U.S.: 18.
This hummingbird’s iridescent crown and gorget feathers lit up with a simple turn of his head in the perfect light. Its name is “copper-rumped”…but who’s looking at the rump?
Four additional hummingbird species are below; Blue-chinned Sapphire, White-necked Jacobin, Tufted Coquette, and White-chested Emerald.
This tufted coquette below, with his orange mohawk and polka dots, has bits of pollen on the end of his bill. He was tiny and zipping around at lightning speed…and very busy.
You may not be able to see it, but this white-chested emerald hummingbird has a bit of his tongue sticking out.
There were many native, red-flowered bushes on the trail (below), attractive to hummingbirds.
But it wasn’t just hummingbirds we found in Trinidad, there was an abundance of other colorful species as well.
Scarlet ibis live in Trinidad, roosting at night on small coastal islands. I wrote a post recently that included Trinidad’s scarlet ibis. Link: Celebrating Ibis.
And there were many honeycreeper species, too. In Hawaii, honeycreepers take the place of hummingbirds in the avian world. But in Trinidad they have both.
This male purple honeycreeper is absolutely show-stopping. I found it difficult to take the binoculars down and keep walking–I would stop and stare for the longest time.
And the female of the same species, often close by, is also colorful and beautiful. Green legs!
And then there’s the green honeycreeper which is another stunner. The bird’s name is “green” but it’s really turquoise.
With all the nectar plants around, there were of course butterflies. Interestingly, the two butterfly species below both have bird names: the owl butterfly and the scarlet peacock, below that.
The owl butterfly below is not as colorful as some butterflies, but the “eye” marking is easily discernable. Many scientists posit that the eyespot is an evolutionary tool of mimicry, resembling eyes of predators that hunt by sight; while others say the conspicuous contrast in markings deters predators.
It wouldn’t be right to highlight the wild nectar feeders without including at least one bat. Trinidad has approximately 70 bat species, an incredible amount.
One night at dusk we spotted a stream of bats flying out from under our lodge building. We went back every night thereafter for a bat bonanza.
And lastly, here are two songbirds to sing to you of the color and beauty here on earth.
The violaceous euphonia with his furry yellow forehead.
And the ubiquitous bananaquit, often found at our outdoor breakfast table trying to sneak a little sugar.
I hope this tickle of the tropics helped warm you, my friends.
Written by Jet Eliot.
All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.