Birds of Jamaica

Jamaica is another place I’ve been fortunate to do fieldwork in. It is a beautiful place and part of the Greater Antilles series of islands in the Western Caribbean. It too has an extraordinary biodiversity of bird species, many endemic to Jamaica or the Caribbean. A good guide to bird identification is Haynes-Sutton et al. (2009) ‘A photographic guide to the birds of Jamaica’. As with my post on the Birds of New Guinea, all pictures are taken with my trusty 14 MP Fujifilm Finepix S4500 with 30x (Wide 24mm) zoom. However I have now invested in an 18MP Canon Eos 100D with 75-300mm zoom for future fieldwork. Let’s start with bitterns, herons and egrets…


Green Heron (Butoroides virescens)


Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)


Great Egret (Ardea alba)


Tricoloured Heron (Egretta tricolor ruficollis), endemic to the Caribbean.


Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), known locally as a ‘Chicken Hawk’.


Loggerhead Kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus), known locally as a ‘Petchary’. Kingbirds are very aggressive and are known to mob John Crows (see later).


Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia), possibly a female.


Jamaican Crow (Corvus jamaicensis), known locally as the ‘Jabbering or Jamming Crow’ due to its very vocal nature and loud calls.

Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger cassirostris), known locally as a ‘Cling Cling’. This bird is endemic to Jamaica and conspicuous by its bright yellow eye and keeled tail.


Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), known locally as a ‘Man O’War Bird’ or ‘Scissor Tail’ due to its forked tail.


Vervian Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima), known locally as the ‘Little Doctor Bird’. Doctor Birds are the national bird of Jamaica, although this really applies to the Red-billed Streamertail (Trochilus polytmus).

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), known locally as a ‘John Crow’. The John Crow mountains in the east of the island are named after this bird. The term John Crow is also used as an insult in Jamaica, I’m not sure why because these are quite beautiful birds!


American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), known locally as a ‘Sparrow Hawk’ or a ‘Killy-Killy’.


Haynes-Sutton, A., Downer, A. and Sutton, R.L., 2009. A photographic guide to the birds of Jamaica. A&C Black.


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