Trinidad & Tobago – A Birding Paradise

Both Trinidad and Tobago are major destinations for birding enthusiasts, quite different from each other physically, biologically and also so for bird watching.  Together they make for a unique bird watching holiday experience.

From an ornithological viewpoint, Trinidad & Tobago aren’t part of the Caribbean, rather its bird population is very much Venezuelan. The diversity of habitats and proximity to the Venezuelan mainland means that the variety of birds to be found on the islands are considerably greater than any of the Caribbean Islands of comparable size.

Represented species include silver-beaked tanagers, bearded bellbirds, toucans, motmots, parrots, tufted-coquettes to name a few of the over 430 species of birds recorded on the islands.

There is one endemic species, the rare Trinidad Piping Guan, locally known as the “Pawi”.  It was estimated that there were less than 200 individuals in Trinidad in 2008. The Pawi is listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union Red Data List.  Habitat loss and over hunting for both subsistence and sport, are the primary causes of its decline.

Trinidad and Tobago provide the bird watcher with some most unforgettable birding experiences like when lines of Trinidad’s National Bird, the Scarlet Ibis, fly in to roost in Trinidad’s Caroni Swamp or the spectacle of hundreds of red-billed tropicbirds (Boatswain Birds) soar over their breeding ground on Little Tobago.

Most birding takes place on Trinidad, but many bird watchers like to include a few days on Tobago where there are 13 bird species which do not occur on Trinidad, including the white-tailed sabrewing along with some good sea birds.