With The Oilbirds

Posted On November 23, 2009 

Common Info:

An old colonial plantation, Asa Wright has been converted into a nature resort and scientific research today. Asa Wright Nature Centre is located in the Arima Valley in the Northern Range in Trinidad and Tobago. Owned by a non-profit making trust, the nature centre is one of the best birdwatching spots in the Caribbean. It is located at a height of 1,200 feet above the sea level. The major properties of Asa Wright are the Spring Hill Estate and the William asa wright nature centreBeebe Tropical Research Station. Recently the centre has also acquired the Rapsey Estate in the Aripo Valley, west of the Arima Valley. The centre has 108 mammals; 460 birds; 55 reptiles; 25 amphibians; and 617 butterflies and undoubtedly presents the biggest fauna diversity in the West Indies.

Country Info:

Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state (area: 5,128 square kilometres) in the southern Caribbean, lying northeast of Venezuela and south of Grenada. The country shares maritime boundaries with Barbados to the northeast and Guyana. Is the bigger of the two islands. National capital is Port of Spain.


The estate initially had cocoa, coffee and citrus plantation which gradually was left unattended. It was after the World War II when an ornithologist couple Newcombe Wright and Asa Wright bought the plantation and subsequently set up a nature research station there. Later, an American wildlife artist, Don Eckelberry and conservationist, Emma Fisk bought the 200-acre estate on Asa’s condition that the area would remain a conservation area. Asa Wright had lived in the estate till her death in 1971.


The nature centre has tropical and humid type of climate. However, due to the mid-montane location, the temperature in the region hovers around a pleasant 65-86 degrees Celcius. The dry season lasts from January till May and it is during this time when the vegetation growth in the area is remarkable. The month of October also witnesses a shorter dry season. The rest of the year experiences rainfall.

Birdwatching at Asa Wright Nature Centre:

Birdlovers have a golden time visisiting the nature centre. One can sit on the veranda for eternity to witness the rich diversity of avian fauna here. There are believed to be 159 species of avifauna at the centre and when the other migratory birds are added, it might even cross 200. Some of the famous birdspecies in Asa Wright include:

Oilbirds which are a fruit-eating nightbird (Asa Wright in fact is a noted breeding colony of these birds. The Dunston Cave provides a stable colony for these birds. Found only in Northern South America and Trinidad, these birds spend the daytime roosting or nesting in caves. At night they visit the surrounding forests for fruits like palms. They often fly as far as 75 miles in search of food.

  • HoneycreepersHoneycreepers in asa wright
  • Hummingbirds
  • Parrots
  • Woodpeckers, Antbirds, Motmots (these come close to the human beings to feed on the fruits laid out for them)
  • Bearded bellbirds
  • Peppershrikes
  • Scarlet Ibis
  • Pileated Woodpeckers
  • Vireos Waterthrushes
  • Frigates and Pelicans can be viewed from the small beach town of Blanchisseuse, located on the north coast of Trinidad, around 19 kilometres from Asa Wright
  • Trogons
  • Becards
  • Toucans
  • White-bearded Manakin
  • Golden-headed ManakinGolden-headed Manakin
  • Ornate Hawk-eagle
  • Vultures like Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture
  • Kites and Hawks
  • Common Pigeon Guan
  • Squrrel Cuckoo
  • Barn Owl
  • Doves like White tipped Dove, Ruddy Quali-Dove
  • Common Pauraque
  • Fork Tailed Palm Swift
  • White-tailed Nighjar
  • Common Potoo
  • Tufted Coquette
  • Blue-chinned Sapphire
  • White-chested Emerald
  • Copper-rumped Hummingbird
  • Rufous-tailed Jacamar
  • Green Kingfisher
  • White-necked Jacobin
  • Pale-breasted Spinetail
  • Streaked Xenops
  • Scaled Antpitta

The centre also features brilliantly colourful butterflies. Some of the known species are:

  • Coolie
  • Banded Adelpha
  • Four Continent
  • Skipper
  • Cracker Small Blue Grecian
  • Rare Tiger
  • Caligo
  • Red Rim
  • Blue Tansparent
Other fauna:

Besides the exciting avifauna, the centre also features 29 species of bats, Agouti, Nine-banded Armadillos, Paca, Iguanas and Tegu Lizards.

Caroni Swamp:

The largest mangrove wetland in Trinidad, the Caroni Swamp (20 square miles) is an hour’s drive from the Asa Wright national bird of trinidad and tobagoCentre. It is also home to 200 varieties of avian species like Scarlet Ibis, the national bird of Trinidad. There are boat operators who conduct tours of the Caroni Swamp.


Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge offers perfect accommodation facilities in the area. It has 24 rooms with private verandas as well as separate cottages. Restaurants with Trinidadian-inspired food are available. There are natural swimming pool and gift shop.

Visit to the famous Oilbird cave

  • Attractions in Asa Wright:
  • Dawn trip to the endemic Trinidad Piping-guan
  • Special excursions to watch night birds and (April only) nesting Leatherback Turtles
  • Boat trip into Caroni Swamp for watching the Scarlet Ibis
  • Birdfeeding
  • Birdwatch walks

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One Response to “With The Oilbirds”
  1. Ryan Cowles says:

    Wow, some beautiful shots of beautiful animals! I’m a little jealous of your travels, haha!
    Ryan Cowles´s last blog ..Turkey Vultures Over Provin Mountain – Agawam, MA My ComLuv Profile

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