When is the last time you have seen magic?
The Amerindians, which were the indigenous people of Trinidad & Tobago, had first named the island of Trinidad as “Iere” (or “Irie” nowadays), meaning “Land of the Hummingbird”. The hummingbird was a scared animal to the Amerindians as it was the symbol signifying the soul of their ancestors. Shortly after Christopher Columbus arrived in 1498, the name of land was changed to “Trini” representing the three hills Christopher had sailed passed on his journey into the New World. This little yet most fascinating piece of history was given to me by Dr Theo at the well-known Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary.
Yerette (another Amerindian name for the hummingbird) is Dr Theo’s home, which he and his wife opened up to the public in 2010 to show the world the spectacular-ness that is the hummingbird. Bright and early Saturday morning we left home to make our way through the Maracas Valley region of Trinidad to Yerette to arrive right on schedule for the first tour of the day. We all sat humbly around Dr Theo, while he told tales of and described the countless remarkable characteristics of this fairy beauty. As we listed to these intriguing stories, we became entranced by the magic of a creature I knew so little about; ever so often distracted by the buzzing of their strong wings – the mystical sound of the hummingbird.
Of course me and my nerdy-self had to make copious notes on all the elements of these attractive beings, so I will share with you some of my favourite facts about the Hummingbird:
1. The Hummingbird is exclusive to Western Hemisphere (USA, Canada and even in Alaska).
2. There are 345 species of hummingbirds in the world; 18 in T&T and 14 in Yerette.
3. Average life span of 5-7 years but they can live up to 15 years.
4. They push the limits of biology as their wings beat 25 to 200 times every second, they can take 250 breaths per minute and they have a resting heart rate of 200 beats a minute. That’s insane!
5. They must eat every 10-50 minutes. When they fly long distances, they must prepare for the flight by doubling their body weight.
6. 90% of their diet is nectar and 10% is insects.
7. They are the only birds that can hover mid-air, fly backwards and fly upside down.
8. Powerful national symbol – They can be found on T&T National Coat of Arms (You must look closely as I actually never realized this before)
Dr Theo became a hummingbird ambassador through his love for photography and his amazing ability to capture the true beauty of these colourful creatures. One day, he started placing hummingbird feeders around the garden to bring them in and then slowly realized that something unusual was happening. The hummingbirds came in huge numbers and then they had realized that they had wanted to share this experience with others.
Yerette is also known as a place where persons with various medical conditions can come to relax and receive therapeutic comfort through the positive and happy energies of this delightful place. Rainy days may even be the best time to visit as a shower of hummingbirds is known to come in and completely occupy Yerette on these days.
Sit back and enjoy the live show as well as the happy energies at Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary so as to get some of that healing power.