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

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.

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 - one of the national birds of Trinidad and Tobago

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?

Want to see all of the national bird posts on 10,000 Birds?  Click on our National Birds page!


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.