Streamertail bird at Green Castle Estate Birding Tour

Bird fact of the month

Streamertails – The Jamaican Hummingbirds

Streamertails are only found on Jamaica and are often commonly referred to as Green-and-black Streamertails, Jamaican Streamertails or Streamertail. They’re currently divided into two species based on differences in colour and width of the bill, body size and differences in behaviour – the Red-billed Streamertail and the Black-billed Streamertail. Both have been spotted within the grounds of the Green Castle Estate and the red billed is a daily visitor.

The original inhabitants of Jamaica – the Arawaks – believed that these hummingbirds were the reincarnation of dead souls and had magical powers, and accordingly referred to them as “God Birds.” Harming these birds is considered to bring bad luck on one’s self.

These birds are not only revered by the people of Jamaica, but are also a favourite attraction of the visitors to the island. The Red-billed Streamertail is also commonly called the ‘doctor bird’, and is Jamaica’s national bird. It is indigenous to Jamaica and found in all the habitats – from sea level to the highest mountains – but is most abundant in closed forests, such as the Blue and John Crow Mountains. Doctor birds also visit plantations, parks and gardens which contain suitable feeding flowers and
hummingbird feeders. The doctor bird is described in Ian Fleming’s book For Your Eyes Only as “the most beautiful bird in Jamaica”.  Some say it is the most beautiful bird in the world.