A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Jamaica I 2024

February 24-March 2, 2024 with Cory Gregory & Dwayne Swaby guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Consistantly one of the most popular birds we encounter on the Jamaica tour is the tiny but fiesty Jamaican Tody. At times, this specialty can be quite tame, allowing for great photos. Photo by participant Doug Clarke.

Although the Caribbean island of Jamaica isn't particularly large, it's only just smaller than Connecticut, it has a vibrant lifestyle, distinctive food, scenery, superb coffee, and an impressive avian selection. Those things combined made for a great time to get away from the late-winter blues from farther north. As a whole the trip was a great success, netting 115+ species which included all 28 of the endemics!

Our adventure got underway in Kingston where we convened at the hotel and first enjoyed some terns, frigatebirds, a variety of herons, and even a distant Peregrine Falcon. The nearby Hellshire Hills was our main destination for the next morning and we easily found the rare and local endemic subspecies of Bahama Mockingbird. Other endemics started to fall into place there including Jamaican Vireo, Sad Flycatcher, Jamaican Mango, and other quality species were present too, like Stolid Flycatcher and Jamaican Oriole. We enjoyed some Antillean Palm Swifts en route to the Westmoreland Bridge where we filled out our checklist with a fun variety of ducks, shorebirds, and herons. The northern coast had a tropical flavor in the variety of shoreline species including Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, and dozens of Royal Terns.

The next morning we ventured over to Ecclesdown Road, which yielded an impressive selection of our endemic targets. We tallied at least 21 of the endemics in just a matter of hours: Ring-tailed Pigeon, Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo, Jamaican Mango, Black-billed Streamertail, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Woodpecker, Jamaican Elaenia, both species of endemic parrots, and even the endemic Arrowhead Warbler. In the afternoon, after our traditional Jamaican jerk lunch, we relaxed and enjoyed some birding on the grounds of our lodge, which continued to yield a nice variety of endemics. We added Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Jamaican Euphonia, and the odd Orangequit.

Up early the next morning, we needed to get out towards the Blue Mountains nice and early. En route we saw a Barn Owl, which must have been a good omen, because the birding in the Blue Mountains was great! We connected with many of our main targets there, including the rare Jamaican Blackbird, Blue Mountain Vireo, Arrowhead Warbler, Jamaican Becard, Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo, Crested Quail-Dove, and others. We stopped off and enjoyed some of the famous (and freshest possible) Blue Mountain Coffee before continuing on back towards Mockingbird Hill.

The next morning was spent close to home at the San San Reserve. We continued to chip away at the endemic targets by adding the sneaky Yellow-shouldered Grassquit among at least a dozen other endemics. We swung out to the coast and visited the Errol Flynn Marina which is THE place to get up-close-and-personal with some special hummingbirds; we had Vervain Hummingbird and Jamaican Mango point blank.

Before we knew it, it was time to leave our wonderful lodge and to start making our way west towards Montego Bay. Along the way, we stopped various times, one of which was to enjoy some distant White-tailed Tropicbirds! We arrived in MoBay and immediately went up to the famed Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. It was here that we enjoyed very special hummingbird encounters, complete with them landing on our fingers while they sipped nectar. Having a species like Red-billed Streamertail, which is a Jamaican endemic, actually land on your finger was incredible! Additionally, the photo ops for various species here were fantastic and we even came away with visuals of both Northern Potoo and Jamaican Owl. Later on we visited the Montego Bay Sewage Ponds where we finally connected with one of the toughest birds on the trip, the West Indian Whistling-Duck.

Our final day of birding started early as we drove east to the Falmouth Overpass area. It was there that we started to see flocks of Plain Pigeons as they crossed over the road headed up into the mountains. This phenomenon is a special thing to witness; this is a regional endemic, found only in Jamaica and three other islands, and it's a very hard bird to find anywhere else in Jamaica. Next was our birding in Stewart Town. As the last main birding spot on the trip, this was our last chance to get our fill of nearly any of the endemics we wished. We enjoyed flocks of parrots again, the "Jamaican" Olive-throated Parakeet, the gurgling Jamaican Crows, a new Gray Kingbird, and a point-blank Crested Quail-Dove that sat motionless for us to scope. All in all it was a bird-packed last day.

I want to thank all of you for joining me on this Caribbean adventure to the lush island nation of Jamaica. Thanks especially to Dwayne and Raymond, whose hard work, expert guidance, and safe driving really made things easy for us, and of course, major thanks to Sharon in the main office for her work on logistics. We at Field Guides hope you enjoyed your birding and made lots of good memories.

Until we hopefully meet again someday on another trip, happy birding!

—Cory (aka Curlew)

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)

This Caribbean endemic is often a tough bird to see in Jamaica but we finally caught up with 8 or so at the MoBay Sewage Ponds towards the end of the trip. This particular species is the largest of all the whistling-ducks.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

This dabbler was seen at the Westmoreland Bridge and Montego Bay Sewage Ponds along with a variety of other waterfowl.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

The only location we saw this familiar duck was the Montego Bay Sewage Lagoons but boy, there were a lot, at least 200+.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Note the species name, jamaicensis. This white-cheeked diving duck was seen nicely at the Montego Bay Sewage Lagoon.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

A tiny, dark grebe with a golden eye, this tropical species was spotted at the MoBay Sewage Ponds.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Seen in a couple of the urban areas.

WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

We tallied these large, dark pigeons nearly every day and they were especially common in the lowlands, including right by our hotel in Montego Bay.

PLAIN PIGEON (Patagioenas inornata exigua)

This is a pretty rare species, actually, and so it was a treat to be able to see these flying over from the Falmouth Bridge. These are found only in the four main Greater Antilles.

RING-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas caribaea) [E]

This species is a Jamaican endemic that we saw very well and many times. Especially numerous at the higher elevations, we encountered quite a few at places like Ecclesdown Road and Stewart Town.

Field Guides Birding Tours
While some of the special endemics are tame and easy, some are tricky and tough to see. One bird in that latter category is the Jamaican Owl. However, we were able to see this nocturnal predator really well right on the grounds of our lodge! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Not an abundant species in Jamaica (yet?). Still, we found it a couple of times in various towns along the north shore.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina jamaicensis)

Note the subspecies which is endemic to Jamaica. We saw these several times and especially well at Rocklands.

CRESTED QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon versicolor) [E]

The Mountain Witch really showed how tricky she could be! In the end though, this was a particularly good trip for this skulker and we ended up seeing them well a couple of times. First, we scoped a couple up in the Blue Mountains and then again in Stewart Town where we had stunning scope views right from our breakfast spot!

RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana)

Only a few people saw it, but one of these large, chunky doves zoomed by in front of us at Ecclesdown Road.

CARIBBEAN DOVE (Leptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis)

This attractive dove was seen very well at Rocklands. This species is found mostly in Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Common and tallied almost every day.

ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)

This close relative of the Mourning Dove was fairly common throughout Jamaica and they were tallied every day. They have a white trailing edge to the wings (which shows up as a white mark on the folded wing).

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

A rather hard bird to find in Jamaica. We encountered one at the Westmoreland Bridge on our first day.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

This black, big, long-tailed, clumsy cuckoo was seen near some grassy areas but they were never very common for us. Our best encounters were out in the Hellshire Hills.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the very toughest of the endemics to see well is the Crested Quail-Dove. They're shy, often quiet, and actually do a good job at blending in with the leaf litter. Despite all these challenges, Dwayne picked out this awesome bird sitting motionless on the ground. We all had amazing scope views before moving on. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

CHESTNUT-BELLIED CUCKOO (Coccyzus pluvialis) [E]

We encountered this large, tricky endemic cuckoo a couple of times, including several at Ecclesdown Road and even some on the grounds of our lodge. The low, growly calls were especially memorable as they called from the big tree by the pool!

JAMAICAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus vetula) [E]

This attractive, prized specialty is the other endemic cuckoo found in Jamaica. We encountered it best up in the Blue Mountains when one of these materialized right in front of us!

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

NORTHERN POTOO (CARIBBEAN) (Nyctibius jamaicensis jamaicensis)

This nocturnal species made us work quite a bit but in the end we saw them very nicely both on the grounds of the hotel and then again on a dayroost. This subspecies, the nominate jamaicensis, is endemic to Jamaica.

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris pallidifrons)

A few of these huge swifts were seen zooming by overhead from Mockingbird Hill. This subspecies is found in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.

ANTILLEAN PALM SWIFT (Tachornis phoenicobia phoenicobia)

These swifts were tiny, fast, and distinctive. They ended up being fairly common in the lowlands especially at the Mynt. This species is typically found only on 3 islands in the world: Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

JAMAICAN MANGO (Anthracothorax mango) [E]

We had a great time getting looks at hummingbirds on this tour. We had several views of this chunky, Jamaican endemic but our experiences at the Rocklands and the Errol Flynn Marina were especially good.

VERVAIN HUMMINGBIRD (Mellisuga minima minima)

This is the 2nd-smallest bird species on earth! It's found on only two islands in the world: Hispaniola and Jamaica. We had crushing views of these at the Errol Flynn Marina and Ecclesdown Road.

RED-BILLED STREAMERTAIL (Trochilus polytmus) [E]

This distinctive, long-tailed species is found no where else on earth. Lucky for us, they were common throughout much of the trip and I think we all ended up with amazing looks. At Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, for example, they even landed on our fingers while they fed!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Red-billed Streamertail is one showy bird! This species used to be called just Streamertail before it was split into two now-endemics. Photo by participant Eileen Keelan.

BLACK-BILLED STREAMERTAIL (Trochilus scitulus) [E]

Most sources treated this as a subspecies of the former species until recently when it was split out into a distinct species. We enjoyed this dark-billed "Doctor bird" right on the hotel grounds at Mockingbird Hill.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

This species, which is in the rail family, was seen at the Westmoreland Bridge and the Montego Bay Sewage Lagoons.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

This is another species in the Rallidae family that we encountered at the MoBay Sewage Ponds.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

The Wag River Bridge and the Montego Bay Sewage Ponds hosted this tall and lanky shorebird species.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

A few were scoped from the Westmoreland Bridge but that was the only spot we encountered this familiar plover.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa violacea)

At least one of these was seen at the MoBay Sewage Ponds towards the end of the trip.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

The rocky edges of the Wag River, as viewed from the Westmoreland Bridge, was a good spot to see this familiar, tail-bobbing shorebird. We saw many more at the MoBay Sewage Ponds too.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

We encountered one at the Hellshire Hills pond and then several more at the Montego Bay Sewage Ponds.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our local guide, Dwayne, put in a tremendous amount of work to ensure we all had great looks of all the various species we were seeing. Here he is in Hellshire Hills, probably pointing out a Bahama Mockingbird or Stolid Fycatcher! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Like the previous species, this sturdy Tringa was scoped at the Hellshire Hills pond and the Westmoreland Bridge.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

A few of these distinctive shorebirds were seen a couple of times on our first day.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

A few of these shorebirds, which were in their pale winter plumage, were roosting on the wooden pylons in Annotto Bay.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

The MoBay Sewage Ponds were hosting a couple of these tiny, yellow-legged peeps.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Seen only a couple of times but they were very common when we did.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

These weren't uncommon along the coast. In particular, we scoped several dozen when they were resting on wooden pylons offshore Annotto Bay.

Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)


Although we saw this beautiful species from a distance (from our lodge, no less), it wasn't until later that we saw them from much closer.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Common and seen daily, these are quintessential residents along the tropical coastlines. The nicknamed "Man-o-war birds" were seen gliding effortlessly high overhead. These are considered kleptoparasites, which means they specialize in stealing food from other species.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Jamaica hosts a very high rate of leucistic Turkey Vultures and has for at least the last 150 years. Studies have shown the leucism trait to be dominent/codominent and so it's pretty clear a lot of these vultures aren't migrating out but are resident instead. It also shows that there doesn't seem to be much negative evolutionary pressure against having this trait in Jamaica. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (SOUTHERN) (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis)

These giants were seen a few times along the coastlines including at Hellshire Hills and Annotto Bay. This nominate subspecies is a different one from the subspecies we see in the United States.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Singletons were seen at Port Antonio and Errol Flynn Marina.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Seen on a couple of our days including at the Westmoreland Bridge and later at the MoBay Sewage Ponds.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

More than half a dozen were scoped from the Westmoreland Bridge on our first day.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

This slender heron, which is typically hard to find, was seen many times including at the Westmoreland Bridge, Errol Flynn Marina, and Montego Bay Sewage Ponds.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Fairly common in wet habitats throughout.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Not only did we find this quiet species at the Westmoreland Bridge, we found at least four of them!


Common, seen daily. Note the recent name change, these used to be called just Cattle Egret.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Fairly common, seen most days in wetland habitat or along shoreline.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This stunning photo of a Jamaican Mango, one of the 28 endemics, was taken by participant Doug Clarke. Phenominal!

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

At least one of these familiar big herons was spotted in Port Antonio but they were never abundant like they often are farther north.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

A duo of these uncommon waders was seen from the Westmoreland Bridge on our first day.

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Although these were more common than the previous species, they were never abundant. We tallied them from the Westmoreland Bridge and also the MoBay Sewage Ponds.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

This familiar scavenger, known locally as the John Crow, was common and tallied every day. We even saw some of the well-known partially leucistic individuals around Stewart Town.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

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

It was great getting to spend time with the nominate subspecies of this very widespread raptor. We tallied them most days.

Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

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

We enjoyed brief views of this strictly nocturnal owl early in the morning as we left the lodge headed for the Blue Mountains. Note that this subspecies is found only in Cuba and Jamaica.

Strigidae (Owls)

JAMAICAN OWL (Asio grammicus) [E]

Believe it or not, these can be tough birds to find when you want to! We had fantastic luck though and encountered this endemic very nicely on the grounds at Mockingbird Hill and then even a duo of day-roosting ones at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.

Todidae (Todies)

JAMAICAN TODY (Todus todus) [E]

There are only five species of todies on earth and they're all found on Caribbean islands. Jamaica has its own and this endemic was high on our list of favorites from the trip. Tiny but full of character!

Field Guides Birding Tours
The most common species of flycatcher we encountered was definitely the Loggerhead Kingbird. Their antics were daily entertainment. Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

At least one of these wintering fish-eaters was spotted at the Westmoreland Bridge on our first day.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

JAMAICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes radiolatus) [E]

The only woodpecker species we saw but it was a good one. This Jamaican endemic was fairly common and we had looks nearly every day.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

We saw these small falcons every day of the trip. This subspecies complex remains a bit of a mystery in Jamaica because of incongruent knowledge from various sources. For example, according to the most recent Clements list (Oct, 2023), F. s. sparverioides (aka "Cuban") is found only in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Isle of Pines. The kestrel they have occuring in Jamaica is F. s. dominicensis (aka "Hispaniolan"). But when you look at eBird records (which are said to follow the Clements taxonomy), it shows "Hispaniolan" as being endemic to Hispaniola and NOT occuring in Jamaica. Instead eBird shows "Cuban" kestrels as the ones found in Jamaica. It's worth nothing that the Howard and Moore taxonomy also states this. Either way, we can state with certainty that we saw some very different-looking kestrels during our time there; some completely white-breasted ones and others that were quite rufous.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

This small falcon was seen just the one time in the Hellshire Hills.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

BLACK-BILLED PARROT (Amazona agilis) [E]

This uncommon endemic parrot can be tricky to find sometimes but we had great luck as soon as we arrived at Ecclesdown Road. Flocks zoomed in overhead and because we saw them again in Stewart Town, we ended up with great scope views.

YELLOW-BILLED PARROT (Amazona collaria) [E]

Only found in Jamaica, this endemic parrot was another specialty we tracked down on Ecclesdown Road. We had some more encounters at Stewart Town on our final day but for some reason, they were tough to find perched.

GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) [I]

These tiny green rockets were introduced from South America but now they're firmly established in Jamaica. We had a few eventually perch for scope view at Mockingbird Hill.


Note the subspecies. We saw this nominate (and endemic) subspecies several times including at Mockingbird Hill. It sure seems likely that this will eventually be split out as a distinct species someday.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

JAMAICAN BECARD (Pachyramphus niger) [E]

Interestingly, Jamaica is the only Caribbean island that has a species of becard! We found this all-dark endemic a couple of times including in the Blue Mountains and again in Stewart Town.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Jamaican Blackbird is the rarest of the Jamaican endemics and they can be downright tricky to find sometimes. Lucky for us, we did well with these arboreal blackbirds and we ended up with great looks. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

JAMAICAN ELAENIA (Myiopagis cotta) [E]

This flycatcher is found no where else on the planet. We enjoyed decent looks at one at Ecclesdown Road and then again in the Blue Mountains.

JAMAICAN PEWEE (Contopus pallidus) [E]

The only pewee present in Jamaica, this endemic was seen only at Ecclesdown Road.

SAD FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus barbirostris) [E]

One of three Myiarchus flycatchers present in Jamaica, this endemic turned out to be quite common throughout our stay including right off the balcony at our lodge. These are quite small, dark, and rather reminiscent of Dusky-capped Flycatchers.

RUFOUS-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus validus) [E]

This is a big, stocky, and distinctive Myiarchus that's also endemic to Jamaica. We had numerous looks including at Ecclesdown Road, Mockingbird Hill, San San Reserve, and Stewart Town.

STOLID FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus stolidus stolidus)

Although not endemic to Jamaica, it's a regional endemic found only on Hispaniola and Jamaica. A fairly local species, the only one we found was out in Hellshire Hills but we did end up with fantastic looks at it.

GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

We saw one of these in Stewart Town at the end of our trip. These are abundant in the spring and summer but we don't usually see them in Jamaica quite this early in the year. This particular individual was well-known and was overwintering.

LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus jamaicensis)

An abundant flycatcher in Jamaica, these big-billed kingbirds were tallied every day. Note the subspecies, these could theoretically be split someday.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BLUE MOUNTAIN VIREO (Vireo osburni) [E]

We only saw this endemic in, well, the Blue Mountains. We ended up with great looks but that was the only day we tallied this big-billed vireo. The population of this species is decreasing and it's now considered Near Threatened.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This photo does a good job at summarizing Jamaica; warm ocean breezes and boats floating on beautiful neon blue water. Photo by participant Terry Harrison.

JAMAICAN VIREO (Vireo modestus) [E]

With a pale eye and noticeable wingbars, there wasn't much confusion between this and the previous species. This endemic, although common throughout our time, tended to be tricky to see.

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus altiloquus)

Our tour overlapped with the exact week that a few of these migrants were starting to show back up. Although they're a common breeding species, it's not one we typically find in February.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

JAMAICAN CROW (Corvus jamaicensis) [E]

A tricky Jamaican endemic sometimes, these ended up being pretty common (and vocal with their weird sounds!) in Ecclesdown Road and Stewart Town. It's estimated that the total population is between 1000 and 2500 individuals.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

CAVE SWALLOW (CARIBBEAN) (Petrochelidon fulva poeciloma)

Note the subspecies, these are different from the ones we'd see in Texas, etc. We saw a few of these at various times but not particularly up close.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

The only spot we encountered these was from the roof of the Mynt Retreat in MoBay.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

BAHAMA MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gundlachii hillii)

This is a rare and local specialty that we focused on (and did very well with) in the Hellshire Hills. Note the subspecies, M. g. hillii, which is endemic to southern Jamaica.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Abundant, seen daily.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

RUFOUS-THROATED SOLITAIRE (RUFOUS-THROATED) (Myadestes genibarbis solitarius)

A tricky thrush to find when you need to. We had a couple quick glimpses in the Blue Mountains but that was it. Globally, this is a pretty range-restricted species, found only in Jamaica, on Hispaniola, and some of the Lesser Antilles.

WHITE-EYED THRUSH (Turdus jamaicensis) [E]

This handsome endemic was never abundant for us but we did end up with some nice views from Ecclesdown Road and up in the Blue Mountains.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Even the grackles in Jamaica are something we're not used to seeing in the States. Nope, what they have there are Greater Antillean Grackles. Here's one nicely photographed by participant Rhys Harrison.

WHITE-CHINNED THRUSH (Turdus aurantius) [E]

This is another endemic thrush except this one was abundant and seen daily.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

JAMAICAN EUPHONIA (Euphonia jamaica) [E]

We encountered these endemics a number of times and on a majority of the days. These euphonias are fairly unique in that the males are a uniform dark slate color.

Spindalidae (Spindalises)

JAMAICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis nigricephala) [E]

Another one of the stunning Jamaican endemics, this beautiful species was once part of the Stripe-headed Tanager complex before it was split up and renamed. These were fairly common and tallied on a majority of the days.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

JAMAICAN ORIOLE (Icterus leucopteryx leucopteryx)

The only oriole we saw on tour, these were actually quite common and we tallied them most days. Although Jamaica is in the name, it's not actually endemic to Jamaica, it's also found on a Colombian island.

JAMAICAN BLACKBIRD (Nesopsar nigerrimus) [E]

One of the rarest Jamaican endemics, this endangered specialty can be a real problem to find sometimes. Thankfully, our visit to the Blue Mountains resulted in a couple of different encounters where we were able to watch at length as they probed through the bromeliads.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

We found these several times including in the Hellshire Hills, at Mockingbird Hill, and the Mynt Retreat.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

It's not clear how exactly they got to Jamaica but it is clear that they are now findable at some spots around Kingston and MoBay. For us, we saw them in the Hellshire Hills and around our hotel in Kingston.

GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger crassirostris)

This short-tailed grackle is only found on a handful of islands including Jamaica where there is an endemic subspecies. They were fairly common for us and we tallied them on each of our days.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

This wintering warbler was seen walking in front of us a couple of times at places like Ecclesdown Road and the San San Reserve. This isn't a common species here in winter and so these sightings were noteworthy.

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

Jamaica is right in the middle of the wintering grounds for this interesting warbler and we caught up to some on several days. We found three on Ecclesdown Road even.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)

Our only encounter with this stream-loving warbler was in Stewart Town on our final day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Of all the warblers we saw on our trip, perhaps none was as special as this one right here; the endemic Arrowhead Warbler. Found nowhere else on earth, this was one specialty we focused on seeing (and seeing well!). Photo by participant Doug Clarke.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [*]

We were able to hear the chip note of this species out in the Hellshire Hills on our first full day.


This limb-creeping species was one of the more common wintering warblers on our tour and we encountered them nearly every day.

SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii)

This skulker is a rare and difficult species to find in Jamaica. We were birding a road edge in the Blue Mountains when Dwayne worked his magic and we all ended up with a quick view of a curious bird.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

We encountered a couple of these wintering warblers right along the highway near Falmouth Bridge as well as in the Hellshire Hills.

ARROWHEAD WARBLER (Setophaga pharetra) [E]

This Jamaican endemic is a non-migratory warbler that prefers the higher forests on the island. Our tour was a good one for these; we encountered them on four of our days at spots like Ecclesdown Road, the Blue Mountains, San San Reserve, and others.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

This is a rare wintering warbler and only the 2nd time I've ever seen one in Jamaica. We were birding Ecclesdown Road when a gorgeous Hooded Warbler popped into view!

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

Common, tallied nearly every day.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

This wintering warbler was seen just a couple of times including at Mockingbird Hill and Mynt Retreat.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

This was another of the common wintering warblers that we tallied every day.

YELLOW WARBLER (GOLDEN) (Setophaga petechia eoa)

The Hellshire Hills was the only location we found this species. Note that the subspecies, S. p. eoa, falls within the "Golden" group and is only found in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Of course, Jamaica was host to many other interesting winged things. For example, this Leafy Sphinx joined us for dinner one night and stayed put for a night or two. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

It was a treat seeing this stunning warbler in fine plumage! Jamaica is in the core of the wintering range and this species ended up being quite common for us.

PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)

Seen at the San San Reserve and then again at the MoBay Sewage Ponds, this tail-bobbing warbler was usually found on the ground.

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

This is typically an uncommon species in Jamaica but we did well and spotted them several times; first at Mockingbird Hill, then at the San San Reserve, and also at the Mynt Retreat.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

A fairly-common wintering species that we encountered on our first couple days. Hellshire Hills had some and then again at Ecclesdown Road.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BANANAQUIT (GREATER ANTILLEAN) (Coereba flaveola flaveola)

Seldom found far from flowers, this tiny nectar-loving species was common for us throughout the trip. Note the subspecies which is found only in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Hispaniola.

YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus olivaceus)

We didn't see many of these until Rocklands Bird Sanctuary but once there, these handsome little grassquits were fairly common.

ORANGEQUIT (Euneornis campestris) [E]

This fascinating species, an endemic of Jamaica, is the sole member of the genus Euneornis. These were common and seen nearly every day.

GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Melopyrrha violacea ruficollis)

This regional specialty was rather tough to come by but we eventually found some at Ecclesdown Road, the Blue Mountains, and Stewart Town. This species is found mostly in Jamaica, Hispaniola, and in the Bahamas (but Cuba has their own endemic, as does Puerto Rico).

YELLOW-SHOULDERED GRASSQUIT (Loxipasser anoxanthus) [E]

This attractive Jamaican endemic played hard to get at first but we eventually found them nicely at the San San Reserve.

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor marchii)

Somewhat common along the roadside edges in the Blue Mountains and Stewart Town, and then especially common at Rocklands where they may have landed on your knees!


NORWAY (BROWN) RAT (Rattus norvegicus) [I]

Seen by some near the ice cream stop.

SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus) [I]

This species was introduced in 1872 to try to control the rat population that was affecting the sugar-growing plantations. However, the mongoose eats about everything and it's now widely considered to be very harmful to the native wildlife.

Totals for the tour: 116 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa