Exploring Nature: Birds in Trinidad

Oilbirds use echolocation similar to bats PHOTO COURTESY OF  JERRY HALL

Trinidad’s Asa Wright Nature Centre is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. This venerable resort sits on a forested ridge on this small Caribbean island and is one of my all-time favorite places to watch birds. They also serve some delectable meals, especially the Indian flat bread filled with curried shark and the cornmeal okra dumplings.

You can sit on a veranda that overlooks a verdant valley and easily see 40 bird species before breakfast. I enjoyed such avian delights as green honeycreepers, palm and blue-gray tanagers and white-necked Jacobins. What’s more, you can sip coffee made from beans grown locally. I like mine strong and black.

Later, you can visit a nearby cave and see one of the world’s most unusual birds, the oilbird. This nocturnal, echolocating species is about 17 inches long and enjoys living in deep, dark caves. It comes out at night and flies around gulping down fruit, eating seeds and all.  

When disturbed in their roosts, these birds emit some truly horrific screams and screeches, but they are generally quiet and docile.

We looked into the cave and saw the brownish oilbirds perched in crevices and on high ledges. Their little eyes shown in the low light.

My motto is to let resting oilbirds rest so we climbed back up and left the colony at peace. To see an oilbird and many other tropical species, schedule a trip to Trinidad. 

San Marcos Daily Record

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