Trinidad's Caroni Bird Sanctuary

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Trinidad's Caroni Bird Sanctuary

The scarlet ibis,the national bird of Trinidad, is one of the Caribbean's most colorful birds.

And although they're rare elsewhere, you can watch huge flocks of them fly into the Caroni swamp late every afternoon as they return from their feeding grounds in Venezuela.

Like flamingoes, the scarlet ibis owes its rich scarlet color to the food it eats: crabs. If this food wasn't available, the birds would lose their remarkably rich hue.

You can visit the areas where the ibis roost for the night only by boat as part of an organized tour.

The boats do not approach too closely; good binoculars are a must. For pictures, it takes a telephoto  lens of 400mm or higher to be able to make out the birds distinctly.

Otherwise everything tends to be a blur of scarlet feathers against green mangrove leaves.

The best guide is Winston Nanan, at 868/645-1305.

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