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Jamaica is one of the most beautiful islands in the world! The bird life there is extremely varied and interesting. With approximately 200 native species that include a whopping 25 endemic species,
Jamaica has much to offer the bird watcher! Many mainland North American species are vagrants or winter visitors to Jamaica (sounds like the tourists! ;^) ). Although there is habitat loss, as there is on virtually all islands in the world, there is still a great deal of undisturbed habitat teaming with bird life. Those who know Jamaica only as a beach would be surprised at the tropical splendor in the highlands! With rushing streams, spectacular waterfalls, wide lazy rivers, deep green valleys, lush wetlands, coastal rolling hills and pastureland, cultivated areas, arid savannas, and dense wet forests, Jamaica has a great diversity of habitats.

   The lovely Yellow-Billed Amazon is the best-known of the Jamaican psittacines. Perhaps the easiest place to see flocks of them is on the road from Clark's Town to Albert Town in Trelawny district. This road cuts through wet limestone forest and goes about as close to the Cockpit Country as you can get in a vehicle. This spectacular area is characterized by a rugged limestone plateau that is heavily pocked and pitted and is virtually impassable by foot. Thus many bird species live in this region which has not been changed by humans. The Yellow-Billed (Amazona collaria) and the Black-Billed
(Amazona agilis) Parrots are both quite shy of humans due to fact that they havebeen hunted for many years and thus can be difficult to observe at close range.

  The bird in the photograph is a young
bird that was captured and kept as a pet by Kenute McIntyre, shown here with his pet named "Pretty".
here to see a baby Jamaican Yellow Billed Amazon
that was raised at Aves International.

One of the most beautiful hummingbirds in the
world is the magnificent Streamer-Tailed Hummingbird! (Trochilus polytmus) Also known as the Doctorbird, the male of this species sports two very long scalloped black tail feathers that create a distinctive whirring noise when the bird is in flight. Happily, these birds are abundant and their distinctive high-pitched voices can be heard throughout the countryside from the coastal plain and even in the mountains.
  Shown here is a male Streamer-Tail feeding from a hand-held bottle at Rocklands Feeding Station in Anchovy, St. James province,
near Montego Bay. There are two other hummingbirds species native only to Jamaica, the large Purple Mango and the very tiny Vervain.

  This charming little bird is a Bananaquit (Coereba f. flaveola). Other subspecies of Bananaquits occur on other Caribbean Islands and Central and South America but the Jamaican subspecies is particularily beautiful. It feeds on nectar from flowers, small berries, and insects (and in this photographed instance, our breakfast strawberry jam!). Bananaquits have a distinctive slurred note that is quite pleasing to the ears. Widespread and common, the bananaquit is one of the easiest birds to see in Jamaica because there are flowers everywhere!

There are many other fascinating endemic species to see in Jamaica including the Orangequit, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Owl, Greater Antillean Bullfinch (Jamaican subspecies), and Jamaican Becard.
Birds of Jamaica, A Photographic Field Guide, by Audry Downer and Robert Sutton is an excellent book that is extremely helpful to the birdwatcher. Even at the beach, there are lots of birds one can see, but consider exploring the verdant high country to see the Jamaica
that most people miss!

article on bird-watching in Jamaica:

All photos are by Gail J. Worth and are copyrighted and may not be reproduced
by any method without written permission.

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