A Score of Hummingbirds of Trinidad
The hummingbird species of the island of Trinidad, the southernmost island of the eastern Caribbean archipelago,
partake of the character of those which inhabit the mainland , due to its South American linked natural history. They number 21 by a generous account, although the presence of two of them are disputed. The island's hummingbird tally is the most amongst the islands of the archipelago[a]: amethyst woodstar (newly discovered), black-throated mango, blue-chinned sapphire, blue-tailed emerald, brown violet-ear, copper-rumped hummingbird, the most common of the local hummers, forked-tailed nymph (disputed presence), glittering-throated emerald, golden-tailed sapphire (disputed presence), green hermit, green-throated carib, green-throated mango, little hermit, long-billed starthroat, ruby topaz, rufous-breasted, rufous-shafted woodstar (rare/accidental), tufted coquette, the male has extravagant plumes, white-chested emerald, white-necked jacobin, and the white-tailed golden throat hummingbird. Seven of Trinidad's hummingbirds are shared with Tobago, its sister isles, which has eight species including the white-tailed sabrewing.
Ffrench (deceased), author and an acknowledged Trinidad and Tobago bird expert, recognized 17 hummingbird species for the island of Trinidad (18 for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago), in his 1986 book Birds of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Trinidad and Tobago Rare Bird Committee (TTRBC) recognized 16 species (17 for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, they omit the glittering-throated Emerald included in the FfFrench list in its January 2014 account). Some observers augment the tally with the forked-tailed woodnymph and the golden-tailed sapphire but these are disputed by others and the TTRBC does not include them in its records; but, the situation is in flux, there have been sightings of the green-throated carib[b] on both islands plus an undated specimen collected, circa. 1877, by F. Ober (1849 – 1913, an American naturalist and writer), from the island of Tobago is housed at the Smithsonian Institution Archives; and, in February 2016, the Trinidad and Tobago Rare Bird Committee, TTRBC, acknowledged multiple sightings of the amethyst woodstar hummingbird (Calliphlox amethystina) in northern Trinidad at Lopinot, Yerette, and Asa Wright Nature Centre between late May and the end of June 2015.
The largest of the local hummingbirds is the green hermit, around 13.5cm (5.3"), and the smallest is the tufted coquette, at 6.6cm (2.60"). The green-throated carib is an itinerant visitor, from the Lesser Antilles, to both islands of Trinidad and Tobago. These birds are commonly seen at known birding spots, but more generally on the northern range and central range of Trinidad, and also in east Trinidad.
Trinidad and Tobagoˈs hummingbird species including the hermits range across the recent typical hummingbird 9-clade classification (groups of typical hummingbirds, i.e., genera and individual species, sharing unique characteristics inherited from their last common ancestor), i.e., topazes and jacobins, mangoes, coquettes, mountain gems, the bees, and emeralds, but except for the brilliants clade and the Giant Hummingbird.
The hummingbird has played an integral part in the historical and current day culture of Trinidad and Tobago. It figured in the Amerindian era, in legend and myth; during the colonial period in trade and fashion—Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas is named after the Englishman William Tucker who shot stuffed and cured hummingbirds for export to Europe; it figures in contemporary activities as national and commercial symbols; and the local Emperor Valley Zoo has devoted an exhibit and a garden to the hummingbird.
1GOULD, John, F.R.S. A monograph of the Trochilidæ, or family of humming-birds : Gould, John, 1804-1881. Internet Archive. [Online] 1861. [Cited: September 9, 2014.] https://archive.org/details/monographTrochi5Goul.
2CHU FOON, kimberly. The 18th Hummingbird in Trinidad and Tobago: The Amethyst Woodstar. The BellbBird Newsletter: Asa Wright Nature Centre. July 2015.