Trinidad & Tobago Nature

Birding Trinidad & Tobago

At the southern gateway to the Caribbean, the sister islands of Trinidad and Tobago offer the perfect introduction to tropical birding. Tropical countries on the mainland can be overwhelming to birders who are new to these latitudes, but managing Trinidad’s 300+ regularly occurring bird species (with about 150 on the much smaller Tobago) is good for the ego. The endemics are straightforward: The critically engendered Trinidad Piping Guan is only found on the big island, and Trinidad Motmot occurs on both Trinidad and Tobago. Then consider that over half (about 180) of T&T’s regularly occurring birds have never occurred elsewhere in the Caribbean, giving the islands a decidedly “mainland” birding experience. Eight different pigeons represent T&T’s South American birds, along with Little Tinamou, Southern Pochard, and Common Potoo. Guided tours will take you to see the bizarre Oilbird. At least 15 unique hummingbirds stand out, including the handsome White-necked Jacobin and the rare White-tailed Sabrewing. Other South American specialties include the Southern Lapwing and the pretty little Pearl Kite.  When it comes to Passerines, 10 families of T&Ts birds are absent from the Caribbean avifauna, including the Manakins, Antbirds, Woodcreepers, and Spinetails. And don’t miss the mainland tropical tanagers, which are well-represented here, including the Purple Honeycreeper and Bay-headed Tanager. Once you’ve IDed all the birds on the islands, take some time to see Tobago’s nesting Leatherback Turtles—the world’s largest living turtle. While you are there, look for the Crab-eating Raccoon. Back on Trinidad, sort through the 600+ butterflies recorded on the island. If you really want some local color, time your trip for Carnival—this is the birthplace of the celebration, and that of calypso music and limbo dancing. If you are traveling on your own, be prepared to drive on the left side of the road, and don’t be surprised to see 6-lane highways and a booming industrial infrastructure in the 3rd richest country (per capita GDP) in the Americas.

What to See in Trinidad & Tobago


Notable Birds in Trinidad & Tobago (click species name to see related articles)

  • Bay-headed Tanager
  • Epaulet Oriole
  • Guinian Trogon
  • Little Tinamou
  • Oilbird
  • Purple Honeycreeper
  • Trinidad Euphonia
  • Trinidad Motmot
  • Trinidad Piping Guan
  • White-tailed Sabrewing


Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

Trinidad and Tobago have a higher concentration of terrestrial mammals than do their other Caribbean counterparts. Red Howler monkey, Capuchin, Brazilian Porcupine, Spiny rat, Red-rumped Agouti, Ocelot, Raccoon and Collared Peccary and a large variance of Bat species, are just some of the encounters you may have while visiting. Outside of mammals one may observe Glass frog, Poison Arrow frog, Gecko, Iguana, Skink, Teiid, Sea turtle, Alligator and Caiman in their natural habitat.


Other Attractions

Trinidad is the birthplace of Carnival, Calypso music, and limbo dancing, so make sure you get to experience some local color. Tobago has the best access to marine recreation, and as the southern gateway between the Atlantic and Caribbean, the snorkeling and diving can be outstanding.


Where and When to Go


Nature & Birding Hotspots in Trinidad & Tobago

Asa Wright Nature Center has many trails and major birding highlights.

More well-developed trails can be found in the Brasso Seco Paria Village.

 


Trinidad & Tobago Birding and Nature Tours

Birding Trinidad and Tobago with WildWings Tours and Travel

Experience the largest concentration of hummingbirds in the Caribbean with Go Trinidad & Tobago tours

Caligo Ventures is the exclusive USA representative of Asa Wright Nature Center, and they lead tours throughout the country.

 


Trinidad & Tobago Ecolodges/Accommodations

Asa Wright Nature Center is probably the most famous birding spot and lodge on Trinidad. Their USA tour company, Caligo Ventures, has also partnered with two lodges on Tobago that they recommend for independent travelers: Blue Waters Inn and Cuffie River Nature Retreat.


Best Time to Go

Trinidad hosts far fewer North American migrants (especially songbirds) than other Caribbean islands, so it's less important to visit during the northern winter. You are going here for the Venezuelan and Caribbean specialties, so early breeding season may be one of the best times, such as March through June. Seabirds typically nest earlier than this, so the northern winter--after December--is the best time to see nesting tropicbirds. "Rainy" season is May-December, but remember that it can rain anytime in the tropical latitudes, especially as you get closer to the equator.


Visit Trinidad & Tobago

Asa Wright Nature Center is probably the best local clearinghouse for information.


Resources