Matura National Park Biological Survey

Matura Avifaunal Survey


The primary objective was to characterize the avifauna of the study site: specifically, the species present were documented, the characteristics of bird community structure, such as species diversity were recorded; and potential flagship or specialist species were noted. A second objective was to provide training to four members of the local community to be able in the future to continue conducting such surveys or serve as guides. Please see the section “Training” on the navigation bar to the left. The third objective was to describe and map the trail from Grey Trace, Salybia, to Sangre Grande Road, Grande Riviere. This objective served to complement the account of the habitats along the trail and to facilitate future studies of the ESA’s flora or fauna by mapping the trail, potential camp sites, availability of water and indicating the degree of difficulty of the terrain. We hope to publish these as trail descriptions and logistics in the form of something akin to a Trail Guile. Our descriptions are verbose and elaborate and so are not included on this website. You may write to the authors for further information.


  • Nine trips were made to the study site between September 2008 and August 2010.
  • Birds were surveyed along the path or river by a slow fixed-width (50m) transect walk: 200m long transects, traversed over a 15 min period. Survey times were at sunrise and sunset each day
  • All birds seen or heard overhead and within 25m perpendicular to the trail were counted.
  • Additional species seen or heard beyond 25m were recorded as present.
  • 149 samples were collected across the trail (Fig. 2 see below).
  • Any leks observed along the trail were recorded either within the sector or with a separate GPS reading (Fig. 3 see below).

Figure 2. Plot of sample sectors across the survey trail


Overall, 95 species representing 36 Families were observed during this survey, 89 of which are year-round residents.

The assemblage is reflective of the avian communities of northern South America.

Figure 3. Distribution of leks across the survey trail.

The rate of species accumulation suggests that continued surveys using this methodology will yield new species at a rate of 1 bird per 10 transects.

Figure 4. Species accumulation and Simpson’s (inverse) Diversity Index for all species detected within 25m of all transects at the Matura ESA, July 2008 – August 2010.

By far, the most abundant species detected was the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), followed by the Golden-headed Manakin (Pipra erythrocephala).

Trinidad’s endemic birds, the Trinidad Motmot (Momotus bahamensis), and the Trinidad Piping-Guan (Pipile pipile) were detected within the study area. The Piping-Guan was not observed this far south in recent years.

The Scaled Antpitta (Grallaria guatemalensis), arguably Trinidad’s rarest resident, was also detected. High-altitude specialists (Andean component) detected included the scarce Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae), Yellow-legged Thrush (Platycichla flavipes), Speckled Tanager (Tangara guttata) and Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava).


The bird community of MESA makes for a good birdwatching destination, lending to good ecotourism opportunities for the local community and its NGOs. Charismatic species observed include the Trinidad Motmot, lekking species such as the Bellbird, Manakins and Hermits.

The most important component of the avifauna of the MSA is the population of Trinidad Piping-Guans. This species should be adopted as a flagship species for the management of the area and studies to better understand the habitat requirements of the species should be conducted or facilitated. Management of the ESA for the benefit of the Trinidad Piping-Guan will benefit the entire avifaunal community.

The small population of Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finches is important nationally but not from a regional perspective. The seedeaters in Trinidad are threatened by the cage-bird trade rather than habitat loss.

The species list recorded represents 59% of the species, exclusive of rare species, which the authors expect to observe in the Mature ESA.

The study area was predominantly forested. The methodology adopted provided a more thorough assessment of lower storey and understory species than it did for canopy species.

During additional surveys, additional bird species should be recorded to cover a wider area and target canopy species. However surveys should be designed to specifically target the distribution and food plants of the Trinidad Piping-Guan.

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