bird watching in jamaica

Bird Watching in Jamaica

Jamaica is the land of wood and water, the reggae capital of the world and the home of ackee and saltfish. But many people do not know that bird watching in Jamaica is another past time that has quietly flown under the radar. Now, the secret is out.

History of Bird Watching In Jamaica

Bird watching in Jamaica has been around for several years but has seen a boost thanks to increased focus on conservation, ecological and environmental awareness. The island has large expanses of mountains, forests and wetlands which are ideal for animals and birds.

There are over three hundred species of birds in Jamaica. This includes local birds that are native to the island as well as migratory birds that visit on an annual basis. It is estimated that there are one hundred and twenty-seven (127) local and one hundred and eighty (180) migratory species.

Birds migrate to the island from as early as August and some of them remain in Jamaica until the next May. Many of these visitors come from North America and a few come from as far as Europe. A few of these bird species specifically fly to Jamaica to breed, which makes bird watching in Jamaica even more fascinating.

Best Places to Bird Watch in Jamaica

There are several places to bird watch in Jamaica. Some of them are easily accessible, whilst others may be difficult to reach due to rough terrain. According to the Fat Birder, the top birding spots in Jamaica include:

Black River Morass

The Black River Morass is a large wetland that is home to herons, bitterns, rails and the endangered West Indian Whistling Duck.

Blue and John Crow Mountains

The famous Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica are home to several species of hummingbirds, vireos, todies, orioles and tanagers.

Castleton Botanical Gardens

One of the oldest botanical gardens in the Western hemisphere, the Castleton Botanical Gardens is home to several species of birds.

Cockpit Country

Rumored to be one of the best areas in Jamaica to watch birds, Cockpit Country is hosts parrots, blackbirds, doves and cuckoos.

Hotel Mockingbird Hill

Located in the Port Antonio, Hotel Mockingbird Hill is a sustainable eco-hotel which is as one of the best places to bird watch in Jamaica.

Royal Palm Reserve

Royal Palm Reserve is an eco-tourism attraction that’s located in the protected landscape in western Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Bird Species

There are twenty-eight birds which are endemic to Jamaica. The table below provides the names of these birds, their conservation status and links to additional information on each species.

ImageName 1Name 2Conservation StatusLink
Arrowhead WarblerDendroica pharetraLeast ConcernWikipedia
Black-billed ParrotAmazona agilisVulnerableWikipedia
Black-billed StreamertailTrochilus scitulusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Blue Mountain VireoVireo osburni Near ThreatenedWikipedia
Chestnut-bellied CuckooHyetornis pluvialisLeast ConcernWikipedia
Crested Quail-DoveGeotrygon versicolorNear ThreatenedWikipedia
Jamaican BecardPachyramphus nigerLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican BlackbirdNesopsar nigerrimusEndangeredWikipedia
Jamaican CrowCorvus jamaicensisLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican ElaeniaMyiopagis cottaLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican EuphoniaEuphonia jamaicaLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican Lizard CuckooSaurothera vetulaLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican MangoAnthracothorax mangoLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican OwlPseudoscops grammicusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican PeweeContopus pallidusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican SpindalisSpindalis nigricephalaLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican TodyTodus todusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Jamaican VireoVireo modestusLeast ConcernWikipedia
OrangequitEuneornis campestrisLeast ConcernWikipedia
Red-billed StreamertailTrochilus polytmusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Ring-tailed PigeonPatagioenas caribaeaVulnerableWikipedia
Rufous-tailed FlycatcherMyiarchus validusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Sad FlycatcherMyiarchus barbirostrisLeast ConcernWikipedia
White-eyed ThrushTurdus jamaicensisLeast ConcernWikipedia
White-chinned ThrushTurdus aurantiusLeast ConcernWikipedia
Yellow-billed ParrotAmazona collariaVulnerableWikipedia
Yellow-shouldered GrassquitLoxipasser anoxanthusLeast ConcernWikipedia

Birding Tours and Holidays in Jamaica

Are you interested in a birding tour or holiday in Jamaica? There are several companies which can plan a bird watching filled getaway with accommodation, bird watching tours and transportation.

Arrowhead Birding Tours

Arrowhead Birding Tours was founded in 1912 with the intention of showcasing Jamaica’s unique and beautiful treasures – its birds! The company offers three types of tours – One Day Tour, Seven Days Tour and the Customised Tour. The One Day Tour takes you through the Blue Mountains and includes lunch. The Seven Days Tour explores the wetlands and drylands of Jamaica as well as the Blue Mountains.

Sun Venture Tours

Sun Venture Tours offers a collection of sightseeing, hiking, camping and special interest tours in Jamaica.  The company offers three birding tours. The Birding in Blue tour is seven hours and tours the Blue Mountains. The Cockpit Forest tour is between nine and twelve hours and visits wither Barbecue Bottom or Windsor Forest. The Shore Birds tour offers an opportunity to see a wide variety of shore birds.

Birding Pal Tours

Birding Pal is a unique website that conducts birding tours throughout the world. Their bird watching tour in Jamaica are weekly excursions which provide stunning sightseeing in Jamaica. Tour I is a six day tour which takes in Portland and Southern Jamaica. Tour II is a six day expedition which guides birders through Western Jamaica.

Best Bird Watching Products

As you get ready to go bird watching in Jamaica, you will need the right gear to make your bird watching visit worth it. Here is a list of our recommended bird watching supplies:

Watching Binoculars

The Bushnell Wide Angle Binoculars feature quality optics with a 25 feet close focusing distance. This is a pair of shock resistant and rugged binoculars which features a sturdy, ergonomic rubber housing so that it can be gripped securely as you’re maneuvering through difficult and uneven terrain.

Choose a set of binoculars with revolutionary technology designed with bird watching in mind. The Wingspan Optics WingCatcher Professional Binoculars for Bird Watching are tailored for birding enthusiasts. Features include an extra wide field of view, fully multi-coated lenses and a close focus.

Bird Watching Books and Magazines

Subscribe to Bird Watching, one of Britain’s best selling bird watching magazine. Some of the highlights including in each birding issue are details about the best birding spots around the globe; interesting stories about birding; and  reviews on bird watching technology.

In this Photographic Guide to the Birds of Jamaica, you will learn about the species and where they are found on the island. This photograph rich guide, introduces readers to Jamaica’s 300 species of birds and describes their key identification features, voice, habitat, confusion species, status, and distribution.

Bird Watching Scope

Add a durable, waterproof scope like the one by Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered Scope to your bird watching arsenal that gives you a clearer and brighter view. Key features include a durable external armour with a non-slip grip and waterproofing and fog proofing coatings to stop the lens from fogging up in extreme weather.

The Roxant Authentic Blackbird High Definition Spotting Scope is an affordable option for birders. It is a compact and powerful scope that checks off key points for the perfect birding scope. This model includes the compact precision spotting scope, a portable foldable tripod, a carrying case and lens caps.

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