Jamaica is an ideal place to visit for any avid twitcher, especially those who love hummingbirds. The island is home to five species of hummingbird, three of which are endemic to Jamaica. Although they all belong to the same family, each species of hummingbird is unique and fascinating.
The red-billed streamertail is endemic to Jamaica, where it's common and found across most of the island. The name comes from the male's bright red bill. Females also have red on their bills, but only at the base. Males and females both measure between 3 1/4 and 3 1/2 inches long but the males, who are the more colorful of the species, has elongated tail feathers, which are around 6 inches long. These birds feed on nectar, small insects and spiders.
Although some people consider the black-billed streamertail a subspecies of the red-billed streamertail, most consider it a separate species due to variations in bill width and coloration, as well as behavioral differences. They're much less common than their red-billed cousins and are only found in far eastern areas of Jamaica. They're similarly sized to red-billed streamertails, except males' tail feathers can be up to an inch longer, making them the longest tail feathers of any species of hummingbird.
The Jamaican Mango
The Jamaican mango hummingbird is another species that's endemic to Jamaica. It's a relatively large hummingbird, measuring an average of 5 inches. It's mostly dark in color but has some stunning green and magenta plumage. It's quite common and can be found all over the island, although it prefers coastal areas, lowlands and open, arid regions. It feeds on nectar from banana, coffee and cactus plants, as well as eating a variety of insects.
Measuring around 2 1/2 inches, including its bill and tail, the vervain hummingbird is the second smallest species of hummingbird in the world. They're happy to live in most kinds of habitat, and are commonly found in gardens. They primarily subsist on nectar from flowers, but will eat small spiders and insects. Females have been reported to eat mineral-rich dirt near breeding season, probably to satisfy mineral requirements for the production of healthy eggs.
As the name suggests, ruby-throated hummingbirds have some impressive red feathers on their throats. However, it's only males who have this ruby throat -- females are slightly duller in coloration. They're relatively small birds, reaching lengths of just 3 to 4 inches. They're very dextrous and acrobatic fliers, and can flap their wings 53 times a second.
- Avian Web: Hummingbird Species Found in Jamaica
- Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds: Red-Billed Streamertail
- Avian Web: Red-Billed Streamertail
- Avian Web: Black-Billed Streamertail
- Jamaica Observer: The Jamaican Mango
- Avian Web: Vervain Hummingbirds
- National Geographic: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
- NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images