- Merri-Lee M.
Hummingbirds of Tobago
We were on the island of Tobago in early January. 4 days were spent on the southern part of the island, and 3 days in the north (Blue Waters Inn). While in the north, we had the pleasure of visiting the Hummingbird Garden at the home of Newton and Dianne George. All 6 kinds of Hummingbirds that are found in Tobago can be seen at the Georges’ feeders. On the day that we were there, we saw 5 of the 6; the White-tailed Sabrewing was around, but did not show itself to us!
The elegant-looking White-necked Jacobin is about 4-1/2 in. (11 cm.) long. Its bill is fairly straight, but the tip “droops” slightly. These birds were very cooperative about posing for photos....
The female White-necked Jacobin is attractive in her own subtle way.
The Rufous-breasted Hermit is a common Hummingbird. It is about 5in. (13 cm.) long. It has a rusty-coloured breast, and white tips on the tail feathers.
This bird has some extra white markings.
The bill of the Rufous-breasted Hermit is quite long, and curves downward. The lower mandible is yellow, and the upper mandible is black (streaked yellow in adult males).
The Black-throated Mango is about 4-1/2 in. (11cm.) long, and has a straight, black bill. The black stripe has a beautiful blue border, and the back of this Hummingbird is iridescent green.
In some lights, we can see the purple on the tail feathers.
We saw the nest of the Black-throated Mango in a small tree on the grounds at the Blue Waters Inn. The female sat high in a tree until we were out of sight!
Her nest is made of soft plant material, lichen, and spider webs, and is very tiny, even for a Hummingbird. Here are the
beginnings of a Black-throated Mango nest on the curved branch of a Croton plant.
The Copper-rumped Hummingbird is small ( 3-3/4 in. or 9 cm.), and very common on Tobago. Its bill is straight and black, with a trace of pink underneath the lower mandible.
The Ruby-topaz Hummingbird is a fascinating creature! The male is quite plain-looking when he is perched in the shade. He is small (3-1/2 in. or 9 cm.); his short, straight,
"un-Hummingbirdlike” bill is dark, and he generally looks rather dull and drab. His “hair” sticks up as if it needs a combing....
When this little guy turns toward the light, however, he undergoes an amazing transformation. His throat takes on a bright yellow colour above the iridescent green,
and his head becomes a brilliant red.
I took far too many photos of these male Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds... they just kept showing off!
“Okay, enough pictures already!"
Female Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds have the beautiful orange-y tails, but their tails have white tips on each feather, while the males have black tips.
Females lack the male’s flashy coloration. Young males have a crest on the head, and dark brown markings on the wings and chest. Lovely birds, all of them!
While the White-tailed Sabrewing eluded us at the Georges’ Hummingbird Garden, it did give us a special showing along the Rainforest Trail. Sabrewings are good-sized Hummingbirds (5 in. or 13 cm.), and they build larger, looser nests than other Hummingbirds. Newton found this little gem for us right beside the walking path, building her nest in a prickly thorn bush. The light line beneath her eye tells us that this a female, busily shaping her nest-to-be.
We saw other White-tailed Sabrewings along the roadside in the grasses, finding small flowers from which to sip nectar. This one was high in the canopy, enjoying the flowers of the Immortelle Tree.
So many beautiful birds on this little island....and these are just the Hummingbirds! Check in soon for more “Birds of Tobago”.
*Special thanks to Newton George for sharing his incredible knowledge with us, and for all the “extras”....you will never know how much we appreciated your willingness to give of your time and expertise. Thanks to Dianne for her chauffeur services, and for all of the time and effort that she puts into her Hummingbird Gardens.
Both of you go above and beyond to make sure that people learn to appreciate your beautiful island and all that it offers!