A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Jamaica II 2023

February 26-March 4, 2023 with Eric Hynes & local guide Dwayne Swaby guiding

Jamaica is one of my favorite places to bird. The pandemic had kept me away for three years so I was so pleased to be leading this tour. Thank you for choosing Field Guides for your Jamaica birding adventure. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

From Manley International Airport, we made our way north and east to Portland Parish where the tour was based out of Mockingbird Hill. We broke up the drive with a birding stop at Westmoreland Bridge, which kick-started our checklist.

The next three days were mostly sunny, pleasantly warm, rain-free and loaded with endemic bird species! We saw Jamaican Owl (and Northern Potoo) roosting, Black-billed and Red-billed streamertails humming all around, beautiful warblers like Cape May and Northern Parula foraging nearby, dramatic Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo and Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo stalking through the canopy, Crested Quail-Doves hiding in the shadows, and Jamaican Blackbirds diving into epiphytes. Afternoons were sometimes capped by a dip in the pool, followed by a delicious meal at sunset.

The tour wrapped up with two nights based out of Montego Bay. Rocklands Bird Sanctuary offered the amazing opportunity to hand-feed hummingbirds. Montego Bay sewage ponds really padded our list with a dozen new species, highlighted by the range-restricted West-Indian Whistling-Duck. We finished with a morning in Cockpit Country where Jamaica Elaenia finally gave us a satisfying look to complete the endemic sweep.

It was a pleasure birding with all of you and I hope we do it again soon. Take care and have a fantastic spring.


—Eric Hynes

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WEST INDIAN WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arborea)

We were delighted to spot a small flock of this regional specialty in the back of the sewage ponds

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

Many in Montego Bay

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Even more numerous than the previous species

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)

A flock of about three dozen in Montego Bay

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)

A few in association with the previous species

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Dozens in Montego Bay

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Good looks at this diminutive diver

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Just one in Montego Bay

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]


WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

Excellent looks at this striking pigeon

PLAIN PIGEON (Patagioenas inornata exigua)

A regional specialty that we saw by the dozen leaving their roost at sunrise. The moniker "Plain" is an injustice

RING-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas caribaea) [E]

Big, ghostly and cooperative; especially at San San

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

We spotted a few of these non-natives on wires

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina jamaicensis)

The dove that was struck by a shrink ray

CRESTED QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon versicolor) [E]

The Mountain Witch -- this gorgeous endemic is one of the species that makes guides nervous. Thankfully Raymond spotted two straight away for us and they remained cooperative long enough for all of us to be content

RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana)

We saw a good number flush off roads but there was a beautiful male coming to the bird baths at Rocklands

CARIBBEAN DOVE (Leptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis)

They have a frosty appearance

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)


ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)

Chunkier and shorter-tailed than the next species

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Few and far between

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

One of the species we saw before we even left the Port Royal peninsula

CHESTNUT-BELLIED CUCKOO (Coccyzus pluvialis) [E]

This massive cuckoo showed nicely for us at San San Preserve

JAMAICAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus vetula) [E]

I love their long, chattering call

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

NORTHERN POTOO (CARIBBEAN) (Nyctibius jamaicensis jamaicensis)

Masters of camoflauge

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris pallidifrons)

The morning we left Portland Parish, we had a stretch along the highway where we saw hundreds slicing over the landscape, east of Annotto Bay

ANTILLEAN PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis phoenicobia phoenicobia)

Strongly associated with Royal Palms

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

JAMAICAN MANGO (Anthracothorax mango) [E]

The large and dark endemic hummingbird

VERVAIN HUMMINGBIRD (Mellisuga minima minima)

Minuscule but mighty; this regional specialty was once thought to be the smallest bird in the world

STREAMERTAIL (RED-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus polytmus) [E]

The "Doctor Bird" is the national bird of Jamaica and a full species now. The Red-billed is widespread across Jamaica (except the NE)

STREAMERTAIL (BLACK-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus scitulus) [E]

This species is restricted to the NE part of the island and was recently split from its red-billed cousin. We enjoyed excellent looks at Mockingbird Hill

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Many in Montego Bay

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

In smaller numbers than the previous species

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Hundreds in Montego Bay

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

One of the last species we added to our triplist; a few were along the north shore on our way back from Cockpit Country

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

One finally stepped out from behind some rocks with the previous species

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Neat to look down on their striking pattern in flight while we stood high above on the bridge that first day

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa violacea)

My, what big feet you have

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Just a few in Montego Bay

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

A solo bird in Montego Bay

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

Seen about every other day

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Multiple birds from the bridge on day one

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Best looks in Montego Bay

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Common wintering species

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

The default tern along the coast

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Good views in Port Royal as our adventure began

Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)


I wish we could have gotten a little closer to those birds

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)



Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (SOUTHERN) (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis)

Good looks on multiple days

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

One bird had a favorite spot

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)


SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

It was interesting to watch that individual in Errol Flynn Marina exhibit multiple foraging techniques

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Mostly adults along rivers but some on the coast as well

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

We had good luck with this species during our tour; I usually don't encounter that many

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

By the hundreds

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

About an every other day bird

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Birds in flight and perched in the evening in Montego Bay

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

A striking adult in Port Antonio

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

This species is easily missed on our route but we managed to find individuals on two different days

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Excellent, close views

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

"John Crow" -- that leucistic bird was really interesting

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Perched at the bridge on day one

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

RED-TAILED HAWK (JAMAICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis)

More days than not

Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

BARN OWL (WHITE-WINGED) (Tyto alba furcata)

Another great spotting by Raymond; it was on a utility pole predawn as we headed toward the Blue Mountains

Strigidae (Owls)

JAMAICAN OWL (Asio grammicus) [E]

Todidae (Todies)

JAMAICAN TODY (Todus todus) [E]

These charismatic sprites were less conspicuous on our run than I am used to. The looks we had at our first stop in the Blue Mountains were the most memorable for me

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

A couple individuals

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

JAMAICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes radiolatus) [E]


Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (HISPANIOLAN) (Falco sparverius dominicensis)

Fairly common in Jamaica

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

BLACK-BILLED PARROT (Amazona agilis) [E]

Wonderful looks in the foothills of the John Crow Mountains

YELLOW-BILLED PARROT (Amazona collaria) [E]

When we had the right angle for lighting, their light heads appear like a head light as they flew

GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) [I]

More than I remember seeing in the past; nice scope views in Cockpit Country


Might be a split one day

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

JAMAICAN BECARD (Pachyramphus niger) [E]

Love their bubbly, rapid song

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

JAMAICAN ELAENIA (Myiopagis cotta) [E]

Our last endemic to complete the sweep in Cockpit Country; it took some work but it was so worth it

GREATER ANTILLEAN ELAENIA (JAMAICAN) (Elaenia fallax fallax) [*]

Just a few quick call notes from this elusive species

JAMAICAN PEWEE (Contopus pallidus) [E]

The pair at our first stop in the Blue Mountains was remarkably cooperative

SAD FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus barbirostris) [E]

On the railing at Mockingbird Hill

RUFOUS-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus validus) [E]

A hefty Myiarchus

LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus jamaicensis)

Common and widespread endemic subspecies

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BLUE MOUNTAIN VIREO (Vireo osburni) [E]

We enjoyed some killer views of this endemic; in the Blue Mountains wouldn't you know

JAMAICAN VIREO (Vireo modestus) [E]

A lot to say but not a lot to look at

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus altiloquus)

Heard one -- saw one. It is usually not that easy

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

JAMAICAN CROW (Corvus jamaicensis) [E]

I just love their bubbly, gargling calls

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Just a few

CAVE SWALLOW (CARIBBEAN) (Petrochelidon fulva poeciloma)

Overhead at lunch at the Jerk center

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

A couple flybys at Mynt Retreat

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)


Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

RUFOUS-THROATED SOLITAIRE (RUFOUS-THROATED) (Myadestes genibarbis solitarius) [*]

Amazing vocalizations; never did get one in view

WHITE-EYED THRUSH (Turdus jamaicensis) [E]

You wouldn't typically think that muted tones of gray, brown and white would add up to something beautiful but this endemic thrush is a real beauty, albeit subtle

WHITE-CHINNED THRUSH (Turdus aurantius) [E]

"Hopping Dick" was all over the place

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) [I]

A few in that fenceline the last afternoon

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

A few at the airport

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

JAMAICAN EUPHONIA (Euphonia jamaica) [E]

The "car trying to start" vocalization

Spindalidae (Spindalises)

JAMAICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis nigricephala) [E]

Eye candy

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

JAMAICAN ORIOLE (Icterus leucopteryx leucopteryx)

The oriole in an Evening Grosbeak costume

JAMAICAN BLACKBIRD (Nesopsar nigerrimus) [E]

This endangered endemic is anxiety provoking for guides as they are few and far between. Dwayne and I gave a collective sigh as that pair performed so cooperatively. The lunchtime bird was even better!

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

A few here and there

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) [I]

A little colony has established at Manley airport

GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger crassirostris)

Comical vocalizations

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

What a treat to see that bird strutting around on the lawn

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

Several really good looks

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Our best look was at San San Preserve


Almost daily

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

More days than not

ARROWHEAD WARBLER (Setophaga pharetra) [E]

The endemic warbler I like to call Salt & Pepper

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

Conspicuous across the island in winter

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Their populations seem to be on the rise

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

A common wintering bird

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

Several in the mangroves along the coast

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

Nearly an everyday bird

PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)

Good looks on the lawn at Mynt Retreat

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

Not sure why but these migrants were common on Jamaica this winter

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

One individual really loved the tree adjacent to the dining area at Mockingbird Hill

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BANANAQUIT (GREATER ANTILLEAN) (Coereba flaveola flaveola)

Common and widespread

YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus olivaceus)

So tiny

ORANGEQUIT (Euneornis campestris) [E]

One of the coolest shades of blue in the bird world

GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Melopyrrha violacea ruficollis)

One of the first birds we identified up in the Blue Mountains

YELLOW-SHOULDERED GRASSQUIT (Loxipasser anoxanthus) [E]

This little endemic is unlike most grassquits. Thank goodness everyone got to see it well in the end - haha

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor marchii)

I am used to seeing many at Rocklands, not sure what was going on there... perhaps the drought

Totals for the tour: 119 bird taxa and 0 mammal taxa