Jamaica is a tropical island with a wide range of habitats including lush jungle, majestic mountains and beautiful coastlines. It is a haven for birdlife with over 300 species recorded.


However, you won't have to venture very far from your hotel to have an amazing bird watching experience; many species can be found darting about hotel gardens. But if you want to go further afield the best way to do it is to join an organized tour with a local guide who will be able to point out some of the more unusual and elusive species

Tailor-make your dream bird watching holiday to Jamaica with our guide on where to stay, what to do and the bird species to look out for.
What To See

Jamaica is home to 28 endemic birds. If you plan to see them all then a trip of between 4 and 7 days should give you enough time to visit the different locations where they can be found. Here are 5 endemics to watch out for:

Red-Billed Streamertail
Image credit: Ron Knight
Red-Billed Streamertail
The national bird of Jamaica, the red-billed streamertail, is known locally as the Doctor Bird. It is mentioned in Ian Fleming's James Bond short story For Your Eyes Only. The opening line of the book describes it as "The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world." Red-billed streamertails can be found across all of Jamaica except the most eastern part of the island.

Jamaican Tody
Image Credit: Dominic Sherony
Jamaican Tody
Jamaican todies can be difficult to spot due to their small size. They are known locally as Rasta Birds or sometimes the Jesus Bird due to the patch of red on its breast which it is said it acquired from a drop of blood that fell onto it after pulling a nail from Jesus's hand after he was crucified. Once spotted, it is not a shy bird and happily sit for extended periods of time allowing for close observation.

Image credit: Mike's Birds
Orangequits are small finch-like birds that can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Jamaica particularly in the canopies of evergreen forests and shade coffee plantations. They travel in pairs or mixed flocks feeding mainly on nectar or fruits. The orangequit has a number of local nicknames including Blue Blaize, Blue Badas, Blue Gay, Long Mouth Quit, and Swee, after its thin, high-pitched call.

Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo
Image credit: Ron Knight
Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo
Chestnut-bellied cuckoos are more often heard than seen so you'll need to keep your eyes peeled to spot one of these relatively uncommon birds. They are resident throughout Jamaica in montane evergreen forest moving to lower altitudes during the winter months. They are surprisingly stealthy, running between vegetation or sitting still for long periods of time. Locally, they are known as Old Man Birds, Rain Birds, Hunters or May Birds.

Yellow-Billed Parrot
Image credit: Wayne Sutherland
Yellow-Billed Parrot
One of two species of parrot endemic to Jamaica, the yellow-billed parrot, otherwise known as the Jamaican amazon, is found up to 1200m on the island and is abundant in the John Crow Mountains, on Mount Diablo and in the Cockpit Country. Head to Hope Botanical Gardens to see flocks of these green birds chattering noisily in the trees overhead. Its local nickname is Yellowbill.

Where To Stay

Hotel Mockingbird Hill

Hotel Mockingbird Hill is set on a hilltop on Jamaica's northeast coast between the Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. It is famous for the number of birds that inhabit its tropical gardens which are mentioned in the ornithologist James Bond's book, Birds of the West Indies.

Enjoy a leisurely meal of slow cooked food with a Jamaican twist on the terrace as you watch hummingbirds, streamertails and parrots flying amongst the lush greenery. A number of bespoke bird watching tours can be arranged through the hotel.


Forres Park Resort & Spa
Jamaica Palace Hotel
Green Castle Estate
Forres Park Resort & Spa Jamaica Palace Hotel Green Castle Estate

Things To Do
Rockland Bird Sanctuary Tour From Montego Bay Rockland Bird Sanctuary Tour From Montego Bay
Located in the hills of the community of Anchovy, the Rockland Bird Sanctuary offers inner peace and tranquility as you get up close and personal with Jamaica's national bird the red-billed streamertail, locally called the doctor bird. There is an optional add-on to the tour which includes a visit to Montego Bay's "Hip-Strip" for duty-free and craft shopping. FIND OUT MORE ...
Scenic Blue Mountain Tour From Kingston Scenic Blue Mountain Tour From Kingston
Explore the majestic Blue Mountains by taking a hike up Jamaica’s tallest peak. This area boasts many spectacular scenic views and diverse flora and fauna and an abundance of bird species including the national bird of Jamaica, the doctor bird. This trip is a must-do for anyone who loves nature and is visiting Jamaica. FIND OUT MORE ...
Mayfield Falls Mayfield Falls Tour in Jamaica
Immerse yourself in the energizing waters of Jamaica's Mayfield Falls on this half-day adventure tour. Depart from either Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay or Falmouth toward this spectacular waterfall complex comprised of two gushing falls and 21 natural pools. Hike through a Rasta village and along the Mayfield River to reach your destination. Along the way, learn about the history of the river and the many varieties of plant species and birds, butterflies and indigenous wildlife found in the area. FIND OUT MORE ...
Negril Flora and Fauna Of Jamaica Safari From Negril
Get close to native Jamaican culture in this fun filled trip through the wildlife preserve. Explore the unique habitats of three natural flora and fauna environments: the wetlands, rainforest and grassland. From the boardwalks, see native crocodiles, iguanas, tortoises, snakes and plenty more animals. Visit the natural lakes and spring ponds and watch wading birds in their natural habitats. FIND OUT MORE ...

Essential Reading

A Photographic Guide To The Birds Of Jamaica
A Field Guide To Birds Of The West Indies
A Birdwatchers' Guide To Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico And The Caymans

About British Bird Lovers


It's Good To Talk

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