The title of this post is a trick question as Trinidad and Tobago actually has two national birds, one for each of the country’s namesake islands. Trinidad is represented by the Scarlet Ibis, a beauty of a bird, resplendent in its crimson hue. It is easiest to find in the Caroni Swamp. Tobago, on the other hand, has the Rufous-vented Chachalaca, known locally as the Cocrico after its loud calls that echo throughout Tobago at dusk and dawn (like the one in the photo at top), or as the Tobago Pheasant because it is the only game bird on the island. It is a striking bird that you will not be able to miss if you spend any length of time there.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber
I have been unable to dig up the story of how either bird became the emblems of the two islands, but both feature prominently on the coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago.
the coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago
When I visited Trinidad and Tobago back in June I was pleased to encounter both species. The ibis I only saw in Caroni Swamp, which everyone who goes to Trinadad should visit. A flock of chachalacas, on the other hand, was more than happy to raucously call from the trees each morning I stayed at the Bacolet Beach Club hotel on Tobago. It was pretty impressive. (And, if you are a person who likes to sleep in, don’t worry, they weren’t loud enough to wake you up provided you didn’t sleep with the windows open.)
Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda (Click the image above to make it bigger.)
However they came to be T&T’s national birds they alone are worth a visit. And, trust me, there is much more to see in Trinidad and Tobago. When are you going?
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