Published on March 26th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
10 Yerette: The Brilliant Secret Hummingbird House in Trinidad
Our car struggled to get up the Maracas Valley mountain. The roads were steep and even our experienced driver had to press his accelerator twice as hard.
One we arrived at our destination, I felt puzzled. Surely this was someone’s home?
Indeed, it was, but it was alive with the colors, sounds and brilliant colors of some of the rarest species of hummingbirds on the planet. We saw what could have been hundreds of them dart and swoop over the flowers, and towards the dozens of sugar water feeders that hung outside.
“All this wasn’t planned,” says Theo Ferguson humbly about his spacious white house, which played host to over 300 hummingbirds that flitted, swooped, darted and drank from the flowers and generous sugar water feeders. As he spoke, one Tufted Coquette whizzed past like a champion ballerina, drinking from one of the feeders.
“It was a grand accident. When I decided to let the hummingbirds into my life and share it with the world, it all changed.” Theo’s house, Yerette, Home to the Hummingbird, is so hush hush that very few people know about it, and the road to access it is narrow and steep. It sits high in Maracas Valley and visitors can only view the precious hummingbirds via appointment, available thrice daily. Hummingbirds typically drink nectar from the flowers, of which there are plenty around Theo’s house. He also grows some of the finest cottonwood trees in Trinidad. On a clear day you can see the peak of El Tucheche, the second highest mountain in Trinidad, in the distance.
A Black Throated Mango whizzes by, looking very much like a ballerina
Theo did fall into this beautiful profession by accident: a photographer by avocation, he decided to challenge his skills by taking shots of the bird most difficult to photograph (the hummingbird’s wings beat hundreds of times per second). And then he realized he had something really special when he started attracting rare species, and 16 of the hummingbird species known to man (there is another hummingbird variety found only in Tobago).
The name “Yerette” is American Indian for the hummingbird, and Theo says that the Trinidad is the land of the hummingbird. Amerindians viewed the birds as sacred, and representing the souls of their dead ancestors. As Theo spoke, dozens of hummingbirds, including the white-necked Jacobin and the rarely sighted Ruby Topaz and Tufted Coquette, flapped their tiny, busy wings and we heard a beautiful, constant buzz.
A visit to Yerette is by appointment only, and costs $25 per person. There are three tours daily, and the cost of admission also includes a light snack and coffee/teas. Theo serves a generous salad, sorrel juice and delicious local callaloo soup for refreshments.
Call 868 663 2623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment because no walk ins are accepted.