Join me in Trinidad & Tobago!

I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host (with my husband and colleague Tom Wood) a tour of Trinidad & Tobago June 18-26, sponsored by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and arranged by Caligo Ventures. This island nation off the Caribbean coast of South America is home to over 400 species of birds, including 19+ species of hummingbirds, as well as a variety of other tropical wildlife from dainty butterflies to gigantic Leatherback Sea Turtles. Here’s a short introduction to the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Center, where the group will stay for five nights:

I’ve wanted to visit Trinidad and Tobago for over 30 years, ever since I read David Snow‘s studies of the White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus) at Asa Wright Nature Centre after returning from my first trip to Belize. I had spent many hours studying the previously undocumented courtship behavior of the closely related White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), and Snow’s landmark work helped me understand what I had observed.

There are still spaces available on this tour for a few enthusiastic nature lovers (the limit is 10 participants). For more information, visit SABO’s Trinidad & Tobago info page or contact Caligo Ventures at 800-426-7781 or by e-mail.

Nesting material for hummingbirds

Female Broad-billed Hummingbird collecting nesting material

A female Broad-billed Hummingbird collects nesting material provided by her host. (Click to enlarge)

Along the southern Pacific Coast and in the lower elevations of the Desert Southwest, Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds are already nesting or will be shortly. You can help by providing safe nest material such as clean pet hair, short lengths of white or light-colored wool yarn or roving, natural wool fleece, natural cotton or wool batting, and down salvaged from worn-out garments or comforters.

Short fibers (1/2″ or less) are easier for females to take and use and less likely to get wrapped around tiny feet. Hummingbirds prefer white and very light colors, but other birds may take darker fibers. Avoid synthetic fibers, dryer lint (which may be too absorbent and contain fabric softener residues), and hair from pets treated with flea/tick products.

Stuff the fibers moderately tightly into a clean onion bag or suet cage and hang the dispenser near your feeders, then sit back and watch the fun!