You are here
A new experience of an old friend
“In this country, the hummingbird is a powerful national symbol. One of Trinidad and Tobago’s national awards is called the Hummingbird Medal and is awarded in gold, silver and bronze, yet as nationals we know nothing about the hummingbird.”
Too often as Trinidadians and Tobagonians we boast about being patriotic but there is no real evidence to what we believe is our love of country. This was suggested by Dr Theodore Ferguson, photographer and owner of the pristine Yarette hummingbird sanctuary, in the hills of north-east Trinidad. A trail leading to these national jewels is tucked away behind towering tree trunks, beds of flowers and refreshing herbs, and is hidden deep in the Maracas Valley, at the Yarette compound, off old St Joseph Road.
It is a man-made haven, with hundreds of jewelled-coated hummingbirds, constantly flying around dozens of feeders set up to attract them, right here in T&T. “Unbelievable!” is the first word that comes to the mind of many visitors, who are often rendered speechless. Born in Grenada, Ferguson spent years as a University of the West Indies lecturer in the field of agriculture and then started a second career as a consultant on leadership. Sparked by their love for photography, he and his wife Gloria started attracting the birds about 14 months ago.
“I am more into expressions and feelings and capturing moments of energy of the birds,” boasted Ferguson. He often gives visitors to his hummingbird haven brief lessons in Amerindian mythology as it relates to the hummingbird. He says the iridescent-winged creatures were believed by the Kalinago people, commonly known as Caribs, to be the spirits of their ancestors.
Hummingbirds were once held in high esteem in this country, not only because of their sentimental value to the indigenous people, but also because of their worth to the Europeans who traded in the hummingbird skins between the Americas and Europe, during colonial times. Ferguson said despondently: “In this country, the hummingbird is a powerful national symbol. Images of hummingbirds appear on the national Coat of Arms, currency and passport. One of Trinidad and Tobago’s national awards is called the Hummingbird Medal and it is awarded in gold, silver and bronze, yet as nationals we know nothing about the hummingbird.”
In fact, tourists from Europe, America and Asia flock to the Yarette site to get a glimpse of these generally-elusive birds, to which local citizens seem to be oblivious. Yarette has an unbelievably large number of hummingbirds, attracting up to 13 of the 17 species found in T&T. The site sees over 4,000 birds on a daily basis and Fergurson observes that the numbers double after heavy rain.
The hummingbirds are attracted to Yarette because of the flower beds in the well-kept garden, with its wide assortment of petals bearing pollen and dozens of feeders, filled with artificial nectar. Ferguson’s approach to maintaining this oasis is truly methodical, since he has a scientific formula for preparing the nectar. The solution is made up of granulated sugar mixed with boiled water, which is then cooled and poured into the containers.
The central attraction of Yarette is the feeling of relaxation, serenity, peace and natural engagement when one is overcome by the spirit of the place. According to an article written by Ferguson, the site at Yarette is “beauty in our midst”. Yarette highlights the history of these creatures in our land, and helps us to develop a newfound appreciation and adoration for the hummingbird. Visitors have an opportunity to be flabbergasted by this experience, as they view something they have never before witnessed. For booking information, contact the Fergusons at 663-2623, 373-1379 or 360-6033.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.