Jamaica has built a very successful tourism industry on its “looks” – sparkling white sandy beaches, washed by shimmering blue sea, complemented by lush green landscapes and, of course, warmed by golden sunlight. Add the wide variety of flora and fauna on the island and you have all the colours of the rainbow – and then some.
Jamaica is undoubtedly most popular for the traditional ‘sun, sea and sand,’ but it is also an eco-tourist’s dream destination. This Travel Tuesday, we focus on some of Jamaica’s tiniest but most colourful inhabitants – our birds.
There are 28 endemic species of birds in Jamaica, which means they are found nowhere else in the world. This list includes doves, parrots, hummingbirds, an owl, a woodpecker, thrushes and flycatchers.
Local birding or bird-watching hotspots include:
- The Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park. This 200,000-acre tropical rain-forest covers the interior of the parishes of St Andrew, Portland, St Thomas and St Mary. It is known for 200 species of resident and migrant birds and is one of the largest migratory bird habitats in the Caribbean.
- The Cockpit Country. This area is known to have 79 bird species. It is also home to the Giant Swallowtail butterfly, the second largest in the world.
- Bluefields, Westmoreland. Listed by BirdLife International as one of Jamaica’s globally Important Bird Areas (IBA), 20 of the island’s endemic species have been observed in Bluefields, plus a further 13 endemic sub-species.
- Black River and Parottee Great Morass, St Elizabeth. Jamaica’s largest and most internationally important wetland, the Morass (which is also an International Bird Area), boasts 150 species of birds, including egrets, terns, gulls and other waders.
- The Royal Palm Reserve, Westmoreland. The 300-acre site boasts more than 300 animal species including birds, butterflies and reptiles.
- Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, St James. Enjoy the unique treat of feeding the hummingbirds as they come to perch on your fingers.
- Marshalls Pen, Manchester. More than 100 species of birds have been recorded at the historical property, including 25 of the nation’s endemic birds.