GBP Notes 12/19/22 – Jamaican Endemics.2

Jamaican Endemics, Part 2

Last Monday I posted about the birds endemic (found only) on Jamaica.  In the post I stated that there were 28 endemic species within the island country.  My personal fact-checker (my wife Karen) went to the materials sent to us from Field Guides, the bird tour company we signed up with, and pointed out that Field Guides stated there were 27 endemics.  I got the 28 number from a Jamaican Bird site on the web so I went back to the web to find out how many endemics there actually were.  Two sites claimed 28 and another claimed 31.  The 31 number included two species that are thought extinct as they haven’t been seen since the 1860’s, so technically they named 29 species.  For the sake of argument I’m going to stick with 29 endemics, as the source of this list came from an official Jamaican bird organization.  Another point my personal fact-checker discovered is that one of the birds I showed a picture of last week, the Greater Antillean Grackle, wasn’t an endemic at all but found in many Caribbean countries.  Let’s hope I do better this week as I present more Jamaican endemic birds.

The Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo was a much sought-after endemic while we were in Jamaica.  We had pretty good looks at one on the grounds the Mockingbird Hotel B&B.  At first this one was buried in the middle of a tree on the side of the valley in the San San Preserve we were walking through.  Most of the group moved on after getting good views of the bird but I lingered back and our guide Jay said, “Keep watching.  I bet he’ll come out on that branch.”  Sure enough the cuckoo walked out of the thicket on the branch and gave some spectacular views.  It then flew over to another tree and perched out in the open long enough for me to get the second shot.


One night after dinner at the Mockingbird Hill B&B we went out in search of the Jamaican Owl.  This endemic species is one of two owl species found in Jamaica (the other is the Barn Owl).  Our guide Jay sent the call of the Jamaican Owl out into the darkness and heard a faint response.  He led us over to a clearing and shined his flashlight up into a palm tree and lo and behold there sat the owl!  It sat quietly for several minutes and continued to perch there after Jay turned off his light and we retreated back to the hotel.


Below is a Black-billed Parrot, one of two endemic species of parrot found in Jamaica (the other being the Yellow-billed).  Although the black bill is not evident to me, you can see the black at the base of the bill/bridge of beak, black eye ring and black eye.


Our first day in Jamaica in the John Crow Mountains, the first endemic we saw was the Jamaica Spindalis.  This female feeds on a large seed in a nearby tree.  The male showed up later.


We get excited when the migrant warblers come through the midwest each spring and fall but the Arrowhead Warbler is not one of them.  Only found in Jamaica, the Arrowhead was frequently seen during our six day tour. The participants saw glimpses of this one and moved on, but I lingered back long enough to be rewarded with this great view.


The Jamaican Tody was an endemic everyone wanted to see and it did not disappoint.  It was back in the woods the first time we saw one but a few days later it came out and perched quite close to us.  The ebird description of it calls the Tody “gemlike” and I agree.  With its vivid green back, pink beneath the wings, and blood-red gorget made this an unforgettable bird.


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