See the Trinidad and Tobago page for information relating to both islands or just Trinidad.
Tobago probably separated from Trinidad and the mainland about 12,000 years ago, due to sea level rise after the last ice age, whilst Trinidad separated from the South American Mainland as recently as 1,500 years ago! This means that whilst Tobago shares much of Trinidads avifauna it is not all and, moreover, it has its own endemics.
On Tobago I stayed at the Blue Waters Inn and could see tropicbirds and greater frigate birds from my window and there were hummers nesting in the trees and turnstones running between your feet on the beaches. [Fatbirder]
On Shirvan Road that takes you from Crown Point to Mt Irvine it goes into a long dipping right-hand turn; at the base of the dip and apex of the corner on the left hand side is a wooden gate. Pass through this gate and walk along the grassy road. Along the way you may see Green-Rumped Parrotlets, Barred Antshrikes and others. Soon you reach a lagoon, around this are Whistling Ducks, Jacanas, Lapwings and Warblers. This can also be accessed from the Fishing Depot at Buccoo Bay; just walk south along the beach, then follow the dirt road/trail.
Grafton Caledonia Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary
Grafton Bird Sanctuary On the Western road from Crown Point (which takes you past Turtle Beach and the golf course) there is a sign on the right about 1km from the golf course, with a steep short track to the reserve. It once boasted a restaurant (now closed) and is still clearly managed for birds with a feeding programme. This attracts all sorts to feeders and a table of fruit including hundreds of Bananaquits and dozens of Palm and Blue-gray Tanagers (a different sub-species to all those you saw in Trinidad); Chachalacas and the tamest Motmots anywhere. I also saw a Red-crowned Woodpecker (not to be found in Trinidad) on a hummingbird feeder and in the woods. The very short trails were productive of Woodcreepers, White-fringed Antwrens, Fuscous Flycatcher, warblers and very confiding Jacaranda. At the end of the left hand trail Blue-backed Manakins may be found. The whole place is a great photo opportunity as well as somewhere to pick up Tobago specialisms with relative ease.
Little Tobago Island
Frigates, Red-footed and Brown boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds and a good head of passerines. All the specialist birds can be scoped from Speyside and you will get an occasional close up from them early morning or late evening. The island also has nesting Audubon 's Shearwater that you might see in their tunnels with a strong torch. Even these can be seen occasionally from shore, coming in just as the light is dying.
Here I refer to the road that goes from just south of Roxborough through to Bloody bay taking you past the entrance to Gilpin Trace. In my check-list I refer to it as the Mountain Road. I found it to be good birding for its entire length with a few tracks, open areas and nooks worth checking each time you pass. I also found one very productive piece of the roadside observable from the car (well, I would wouldn't I). En route from Roxborough to Bloody Bay there is only one patch of bad road-surface where there are usually tethered cows and a small hut. This is approximately 3k up the road between a sharp right hand bend and a left, all up hill. (Even if they improve the road there should be evidence of the new surface and gravel and lumber on the verge to give you a clue). If you park on the left facing back downhill in the Roxborough direction, there is a slightly open forest edge with several immortelle trees in bloom (they are always in bloom until no more rain is due according to legend - which means all the time). This site produced 3 red-legged honeycreepers, 2 sabrewing, tanagers, an evening roost of 10 orange-winged parrots, Venezuelan flycatchers, an over-flight by a yellow-legged thrush and more common stuff.
The Dam itself can produce Shorebirds, Ducks andAnhingas, and on the wires on the way into the dam Caribbean Martins can be seen. The forests around it are good for Rufous-tailed Jacamars, Collared Trogons, Flycatchers, Motmots, Hummingbirds and Tanagers.
This is the main tourist area but still the best place for congregations of pelicans, gulls and terns. It is also a good spot for seashore loving waders. I also saw brown boobies diving into the bay fairly close to the shore. It can be a hassle here if you are outside of the hotel compounds - the only place we had to avoid youngsters trying to charge you for smearing you with unwanted gobs of aloe vera. A good view can alsobe had from Fort James on the headland that is the north end of the beach; it can be accessed through Plymouth.
Number of Species
National Bird: Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda
Tobago`s first conservation organisation
BS Grafton Caledonia Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary
This bird sanctuary was once a cocoa estate. Following hurricane Flora in 1963, the owner took to feeding the wild birds, whose habitat was badly damaged. When she died, the estate was passed onto her remaining family on the condition that it would remain a wildlife sanctuary. The house has been converted to a nature centre. The Motmots have been conditioned over the years and usually come out around 8am and 4pm for their old feeding time. Their fear of humans has diminished and hand feeding is possible. There are nature hiking trails on the grounds.
FR Main Ridge
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve is home to a number of flora and fauna; it is estimated that the rainforest provides habitats for twelve to sixteen species of mammals out of the nearly ninety mammal species in the Caribbean region, twenty-four non-poisonous snakes, sixteen lizards and two hundred and ten species of birds, the most outstanding being the bird species Campylopterus ensipennis - the White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird - that is both rare and endemic to Tobago.
WS Little Tobago
Little Tobago (or Bird of Paradise Island) is a small island off the northeastern coast of Tobago, and part of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The island supports dry forest. It is an important breeding site for seabirds such as red-billed tropicbird, Audubon's shearwater, brown booby, brown noddy, sooty and bridled terns. A few pairs of white-tailed tropicbirds are also nesting here.
Guides & Tour Operators
I am a professional birdwatching and nature tour guide with 32 years of experience. If you are visiting Tobago, and are interested in nature, I can help you to make the most from your visit, and to see sights that you might otherwise miss…
Tobago's specialist bird-watching guides
…Every guide on Tobago will know more about the island’s natural history and birdlife than the average tourist, so it is very easy to be misled by someone with a nice line of chat. Misleading or incorrect information can often be worse than no information at all, so it is best to avoid these so-called opportunists. After all, no good guide needs to tout for business on the beach….
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2014 [11 November] - Paul Davis
At 5.30 am the first birds started to sing, they were Tropical Mockingbirds and a very pleasing sound it was. Shortly after the Rufous-vented Chachalacas pitched in, not so melodious, then Bananaquits and Tanagers. I hopped out of bed, got my gear together, sprayed the repellant on, just in case, and headed out to watch the sunrise. The sun rose over the island of Little Tobago across a short stretch of water. A small gang of White-tipped Doves gathered in a fruiting tree above me joined by a few Pale-vented Pigeons. Blue-grey Tanagers darted in and out of the same tree. After a sumptuous breakfast, I took a stroll around the grounds and spotted a couple of Agoutis foraging in the half light. On the beach a resident pack of Ruddy Turnstones rushed towards hotel guests hoping for some morsels of breakfast muffin or some other delicacy. These lovely little birds were always ready and willing to pose for photos. At about 9.30 most mornings the staff would put out sugar feeders on a number of poles dotted about the property. Within minutes Bananaquits, Copper-rumped Hummingbirds and the occasional Rufous-breasted Hermit arrived and stuck around for most of the day. Several Brown Pelicans gathered on the boat jetty and fished the bay very successfully...
2015 [03 March] - Stephen Burch
...Turning right at the first roundabout and then right again leads to the Admin building and a more productive quieter area, with a heronry close by on the right - full of Cattle Egrets, some in breeding plumage, and Tri-coloured Herons. We saw our first Eared Doves by the road here. Further on past the Admin building to the right there was another pool that had a few White-winged Swallows over in the late afternoon sun of our first visit, and some squabbling Smooth-billed Anis in the surrounding bushes...
2015 [07 July] - Petri Hottola
The main target species on the island include: Rufous-vented Chachalaca, White-tailed Sabrewing, Trinidad Motmot (much easier to see than in Trinidad, to say the very least), Northern White-fringed Antwren, Grey-throated Leaf-tosser, Stripe-breasted Spinetail and Venezuelan Flycatcher.
2016 [02 February] - Eric Hynes & Doug Gochfeld
...Gilpin Trace was the focus of our birding in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve the next day. We did well with a number of island specific targets like: Yellow-legged Thrush, White-tailed Sabrewing, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Blue-backed Manakin, and Scrub Greenlet. Finally seeing Trinidad Motmot was a relief and more looks at Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Common Potoo were welcomed...
Places to Stay
Blue Waters Inn
From the deep blue of the Atlantic, to the golden sandy beach of Batteaux Bay, to the brilliant green of our lush hills - this is Blue Waters Inn. We offer Tobago`s finest hiking and birdwatching. Be awakened by a symphony of birds celebrating the birth of a new day. - I loved this place, Fatbirder
Candles in the Wind
Welcome To Enchanting Tobago. At Candles, we provide cosy, comfortable air conditioned accommodation in a homely environment…
Cuffie River Nature Retreat & Eco-lodge
The Cuffie River Eco-lodge and Nature Retreat is situated in beautiful Tobago, the gentle and tranquil half of the nation state of Trinidad and Tobago - the most southerly of the islands comprising the Caribbean island chain. Tobago gently charms her callers with deserted beaches … the famous Buccoo Reef, a protected Marine Park with a fascinating underwater world of untouched coral …mountainous grandeur … unexpected waterfalls … beautiful and exotic birds … warm hearted and generous people…
I loved it… great birds in the grounds! Fatbirder
Palms Villa Resort
Five three bedroom luxury villas each with own pool, located in ten acres of gardens frequented by numerous birds…
Sherwood Park Apartments
Sherwood Park Apartments is located in the south of Tobago, halfway between Crown Point airport and the capital of Tobago, Scarborough. Sherwood Park is situated in quiet green surroundings, close to Pigeon Point and other well-known beaches, golf courses and excellent locations for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Both local and international restaurants are within easy access. Sherwood Park is situated slightly uphill, which means there is a constant refreshing sea breeze.
The Speyside Inn is a small, affordable, owner-operated country Inn situated on the outskirts of a small fishing village on Tobago's North East coast. It is utterly unique, and uniquely enchanting.
Located next to the Grafton bird sanctuary, Malcolm & Annie Taylor`s traditionally designed semi-detached villa affords luxury accommodation within the secure Sanctuary Villa estate, close to Mt Irvine Bay and up the hill from the village of Pleasant Prospect, which boasts not only a fine restaurant - the Indigo, but also a bar, a shop, and an all important (but rare) cash point.
Bird Watching in Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago perch off the coast of Venezuela, twin islands offering scuba diving and deserted beaches. While bird watchers have long visited Trinidad, a few are beginning to flock to Tobago, where more than 200 species of birds nest…
Birdwatching in Tobago
The following text was written by Dr Steve M. R. Young after a birdwatching holiday in Trinidad & Tobago…