Despite its sometimes roguish image, Jamaica is beautiful, accessible and safe (yes safe!) for a birdwatching holiday, with a range of locations as inebriating as Jamaican rum. The island is an excellent location for a winter birding trip.
Jamaica’s avifauna is described as being “one of the most distinctive in the world.” This small Caribbean island has more readily found endemics than any other West Indian country and one of the highest totals in the world—307 species–for sea islands of comparable size. Between the Blue Mountains and Port Antonio, you have a good chance of seeing all 28 of the Jamaican endemics, including the endangered though readily viewable Black-billed Parrot and Ring-tailed Pigeon.
Mocking Bird Hill Gardens Recommended by Birds Of the West Indies
Twenty-two of the 28 Jamaican endemics plus 6 Caribbean endemics can be found on the 6.5 acre property at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, which is particularly known as one of the better places to see Black-billed Streamertail. The lush gardens, flowering shrubs, and mature trees provide rich habitat for more than 72 bird species, including many neotropical migrants. At last count, we’ve hosted 17 species of North American warblers! Whether watching birds from your balcony, along our quiet private road, or while dining on the terrace, birding at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill will prove a most rewarding experience.
Local Bird Names
The imaginative local names for birds are just one aspect of Jamaica’s colourful culture: Doctorbird (because the Streamertail’s long tails resemble the frocks once worn by medical men), Old Man Bird (Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo) and the smaller Old Woman Bird (Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo), Auntie Katie (Jamaican Oriole), Big Tom Fool (Rufous-tailed Flycatcher) and the Duppy Bird (Common Ground-Dove), to name a few.
Many of the endemics are among the island’s commonest species, including White-chinned Thrush, Jamaican Woodpecker and the chunky Jamaican Tody. The tody, from a unique Caribbean family, looks like a hummingbird on steroids and goes by the local name of Robin Redbreast. Other folk names are just as descriptive: Hopping Dick for White-chinned Thrush, Markhead for Spindalis, and Little Tom Fool for Sad Flycatcher.
The English bird names are just as intriguing: Bananaquits, Orangequits and Jamaican Mango make up a veritable fruit salad, while Jamaican Euphonia fails to live up to its name, sounding instead like a car trying to start. And, at 2 inches long and weighing around three grams, the Vervain Hummingbird is the second smallest bird in the world. It looks more like large flying insect than a bird, buzzing around from flower to flower like a bumblebee, sipping nectar as it goes.
Custom Jamaican Bird Tours
Complete custom island birdwatching tours of any length can be booked through Hotel Mocking Bird Hill. We offer two birding packages:
but we can tailor your birdwatching vacation in Jamaica to match your needs.
Hire a Birding Guide for the Day
No matter how long your vacation is on our beautiful island, local experts can be arranged to accompany you in the field. Birding Guides generally have to be booked prior to your arrival so please mention this request at the time of making your reservation. Average cost for a guide per day: US$ 165.00