what is the national bird of jamaica

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  • Population: 20 million
  • Trend: Probably declining based on habitat loss
  • Population: 500,000 – 5 million
  • Trend: Probably declining based on habitat loss
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: Probably declining based on habitat loss

what is the national bird of jamaica

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what is the national bird of jamaica

  • Scientific Name: Trochilus polytmus
  • Population: Unknown, but considered common
  • Trend: Stable
  • Habitat: Forests, plantations, and gardens

what is the national bird of jamaica

Known by many locals as the “doctor bird,” the striking Streamertail hummingbird is endemic to Jamaica, where it is the national bird. The male’s long, black tail feathers and black crest resemble the coattails and top hat of an old-fashioned doctor. The swallow-tail or scissors-tail hummingbird are other colloquial names (not to be confused with the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird of South America).

The Streamertail hummingbird was known as the “god bird” by the Arawak, the first people to live in Jamaica, who thought it was a magically gifted reincarnation of a deceased soul.

The first line of Ian Fleming’s James Bond short story For Your Eyes Only introduces readers to the Streamertail, a British author. “The streamer-tail or doctor hummingbird is regarded by some as the most beautiful bird in the world, and it is the most beautiful bird in Jamaica. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Fleming spent several months of his year vacationing in Jamaica, so it’s safe to say that he was well acquainted with this striking animal.

When Fleming first began writing his now-famous stories, he had trouble naming his handsome protagonist. Eventually, the American ornithologist James Bond, the author of one of his favorite books, Birds of the West Indies, provided inspiration.

The “Red-billed,” which inhabits the majority of the island, and the “Black-billed,” which is limited to the eastern part of the island, are the two populations of streamertails. The two are regarded as distinct species by some authorities due to the variations in their bill color, size, voice, and display. The two populations interbreed in the John Crow Mountains.

Streamertail calls include a loud metallic ting or teet. The male Streamertail hummingbird, like other hummingbirds, such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird, makes a characteristic whirring sound when it flies due to air passing over its feathers at a fast pace.

Listen here:

(Audio: Richard C. Hoyer, XC48118. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/48118)

The nectar of numerous native and exotic flowering trees, shrubs, herbs, and epiphytes is what the streamertail eats. It also visits hummingbird feeders, bird baths, and water features. A streamertail will also eat tiny spiders and insects, which are significant protein sources that the female specifically seeks out during the nesting season to ensure the healthy development of her young. Invertebrates are extracted from spider webs, snatched off leaves or branches, or caught in midair (by hawking).

Male streamertails mark out areas for feeding, and when larger insects like bumblebees and hawk moths try to feed there, they chase them away.

Long, specialized tail feathers with fluted and scalloped edges are grown by male streamertails. Similar to the Marvelous Spatuletail, the male Streamertail uses its lengthy tail to attract females by displaying his black “streamers” in displays. Males with long, symmetrical tails are more fit and have a higher chance of successful reproduction than females with shorter, less shaped streamers.

what is the national bird of jamaica

Like most other hummingbirds, the streamertail is solitary when not engaged in courtship or mating activities. After mating, one or more females select a potential male’s territory, but they remain there to construct the small, cup-shaped nest, care for their clutch of eggs (usually two), and rear their young by themselves. Because of Jamaica’s tropical environment, breeding takes place all year round, and a female streamertail can raise up to three broods each year.

Up until the 1960s, the streamertail was a common target in the wild bird trade. Today, it is protected. Populations are widely distributed throughout Jamaica’s elevations, and habitat loss is not a concern because the streamertail easily adapts to artificial environments.

The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, which works to protect the island’s endemic birds in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, has received support from ABC. The Streamertail and numerous other bird species, including the Blue Mountain Vireo, Jamaican Blackbird, and Yellow-billed Parrot, as well as wintering migrants like the Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Prairie Warbler, benefit from this work.

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Among the 320 species of hummingbirds, the doctor bird, also known as the swallow tail hummingbird (Trochilus Polytmus), is one of the most remarkable. It lives only in Jamaica.

Frederic Cassidy claims that the bird is a superstitious object. The Arawaks propagated the notion that the bird possessed magical abilities. They dubbed it the “God bird” because they thought it represented the rebirth of deceased souls. A folk song that goes, “Doctor Bud a cunny bud, hard bud fe dead,” embodies this. (It is a clever bird which cannot be easily killed).

The origin of the name ‘Docor-bird’ is somewhat unsettled. There are rumors that the name was chosen because of the erect black crest and tails, which resemble the long tail coats and top hats that doctors wore in the past. According to some schools of thought, it alludes to how birds pierce flowers with their bills in order to get nectar.

These birds produce iridescent colors that are unique to that family, and their exquisite feathers are unlike any other in the entire bird population. Apart from these exquisite feathers, the adult male possesses two lengthy tails that trail behind him during flight. The doctor bird has been immortalized in Jamaican songs and folklore for a long time.