This series of articles on PRESERVING OUR NATURAL HERITAGE consists of features on our flora and fauna, people, places and things simply constructed and presented like mini-documentaries in print. It is a reawakening to our readers to the simple beauty and wonders of nature, an escape from the stress and into the reality that we share a common balance with the natural world around us.
The accompanying photos and/or illustrations will add to and enhance the power of the printed words. Get a peep into our mangrove forests as they prevent our coastal erosion, the homes of a variety of attractive birdlife and related information. Learn about the many wildlife animals and their habits in our tropical forests. Building an awareness of our environment, as we must endeavour to love it, protect and conserve it for now and the future. Generally, these articles amount to environmental education.
THE YELLOW ORIOLE BIRD
Very attractive among our local birds is the Yellow Oriole. It belongs to the family of Black Birds. What makes the Yellow Oriole outstanding is its bright yellow colour mixed with black—The black colour occurs on its long tail feathers, the flight feathers on its wings, which are edged in white, the throat and the small area between its beak and eyes. Because of its bright yellow, especially on the heads of some matured birds, they are also referred to as 'Golden Orioles'. Sometimes, this bird may be mistaken for a Corn Bird and called a small Corn Bird.
When in its young stage, these birds appear in pale yellow with little or no black and are easily mistaken for another species of bird; most likely, the pale yellow Saffron Finch. Yellow Orioles are found throughout our island—in the cities, towns and rural villages. However, the natural habitat, where they are found more abundantly, are in areas at the edge of mangrove swamps, marshes and forests.
They feed on ripe, sweet fruits like mangoes, pommeracs, papayas (paw-paws) and bananas among others. They also feed on small insects, which are found on the branches and leaves of trees, as well as the necters of some flowers.
Their nests are built from the fibres of grass and coconut palm and others. These are constructed somewhat, like those of the Corn Birds but much shorter; approximately, 18 inches long. These are hung from the slender ends of branches, allowing a free swing in the breeze. That must be very comforting to the fledglings (baby birds).
The opening in the nest is a small round hole near the top end of the nest. From this opening, the birds enter and exit. Unfortunately, however, the nests are sometimes raided by other aggressive birds. Such attacks force the seemingly helpless birds to abandon their nests. They move to another tree, where they painstakingly go over the entire process of building another nest.
Their mating season extends from May to November. Our beautiful wildlife is being depleted at an alarming rate, partly because of wild bush fires, overhunting, wanton destruction of our sensitive ecosystems; swamps and marshes, rivers, forests, mangrove forests and savannah lands. These are nature's gifts to us. Let us protect, preserve and enjoy these, for they are our natural heritage, and we are just a part of it all.
Who is Al Ramsawack?
Al Ramsawack was born in 1932 in Trinidad and Tobago. He grew up in the village of Sangre Grande in a time when folklore was believed to be a way of life rather than something mythical. His home was on the edge of a forest and the border of a large cocoa plantation in the neighbouring village of Sangre Chiquito. The cocoa workers of that plantation were the first storytellers who excited the author’s imagination and curiosity, which later prompted his inquiry and research into the realm of folklore. In 2004 Al Ramsawack received the country’s National Humming Bird Silver Award for Culture/Folklore.
As a writer, Ramsawack’s career began in 1971, when his first story appeared in the Sunday Guardian magazine, titled: 'From the Cauldron of our Jumbie culture.' Encouraged by the then editors Mr Johnson Ince, Mr Carl Jacobs and Mrs Therese Mills, it continued as a series of 16 folklore stories, which was well applauded by our readers.
Among his many books, the most recent was released in July 2018, titled: Folklore Stories of Trinidad and Tobago, fully illustrated in colour by the author.
Other awards include The Media Award (1997) for the Best TV Cultural Documentary (The Spirit of Cedros), produced by Southern Video Production. He also received the San Fernando Culture and the Arts Council Award for Education and The Literary Arts (2006). In the 1990s he researched, scripted and presented The Cross Country Documentaries for AVM Television. He wrote and directed three local 30-minute movies which were aired on TV 6. Together with Dion and Ann Marie Samsoondar’s Southern Video, Ramsawack presented many TV cultural documentaries. Al Ramsawack, over the decades, has written and illustrated over 300 children’s stories which were published in The Guardian and other media. He is a retired secondary school teacher, folklorist and artist, and continues his writing career. You can reach Al Ramsawack at