Birdwatching Hot Spots
While birds can be found in every town and inlet of Jamaica, several locations have been identified as having large numbers of endemic and non-endemic species. Jamaica’s main bird-watching hotspots are included below:
- The Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park conserves about 78,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of tropical rain-forest in the north-east of Jamaica. The park covers the steep mountain slopes (mostly over 3,000 feet) in the interior of the parishes of St. Andrew, Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary. The region has been noted for having more than 800 species of endemic plants, the world’s second largest butterfly, Papilo Homerus, 200 species of resident and migrant birds and is one of the largest migratory bird habitats in the Caribbean. Ecclesdown and Hardwar Gap in the Blue Mountains have been noted as prime locations from which to view much of the island’s flora and fauna.
For more information on the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park, please visit the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust (JCDT) website at www.greenjamaica.org.jm
- The Cockpit Country is considered as Jamaica’s most important ecological site. Its unique karst landscape, named for their resemblance to cockfighting pits, drains water through porous bedrock and sinkholes connected to a complex, subterranean network of caves. This network is fed by groundwater springs and seeps, and is the source of the Great, Black and Martha Brae rivers. These rivers form almost two-thirds of Jamaica's freshwater supply. The Cockpit Country is also a cultural treasure – part of it is home to the Leeward Maroon communities. The land is managed as a forest reserve by the Forestry Department.
The Cockpit Country is known to have more than 100 species of unique plants. The area has 79 bird species; the Jamaica Kite (Blue Swallowtail) and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly species are known to inhabit the area. The Giant Swallowtail is the second largest butterfly in the world.
- Bluefields is listed by BirdLife International as one of Jamaica’s globally Important Bird Areas (IBA). Of the 28 Jamaican endemic species 20 have been observed in Bluefields, plus a further 13 endemic sub-species.
- Black River and Parottee Great Morass. Jamaica’s largest and internationally important wetland, the Black River Great Morass (denoted both as a Ramsar site and an International Bird Area), 150 species of birds, including winter visitors and vagrants have been observed. Egrets, terns, gulls and other waders are prevalent there.
- The Royal Palm Reserve is a 300-acre site which boasts 114 plant species including the Royal Palm, which is unique to the area. There are over 300 animal species including birds, butterflies and reptiles. The Royal Palm Reserve is an ideal location for bird watching.
- Cranbrook Flower Forest is located in the hills of St. Ann. It is a natural oasis with a river and many endemic plants. The site is a favourite for bird watching and nature walks.
- Hotel Mocking Bird Hill in Port Antonio, on the northeast coast of Jamaica, has been identified as a fine bird watching location. Many of the Jamaican endemics can be viewed on property at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, which is noted as one of the best places to see the Black-billed Streamertail Hummingbird.
Drapers, Port Antonio
Tel: (876) 993-7267; 993-7134
Fax: (876) 993-7133
- Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in the parish of St. James offers a unique treat. Visitors are given the opportunity to see and feed birds, in particular hummingbirds, by having them perch on their fingers. This interactive session occurs each day, mainly in the afternoon.
Montego Bay, St. James
- Marshalls Pen comprises a historical mansion and a 120-hectare property in Manchester. Marshall's Pen is impressive for birding as more than 100 species have been recorded here, including 25 of the 27 species endemic to Jamaica.
For more information on birdwatching at Marshall’s Pen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The wetland areas – Negril Morass, Portland Bight protected area, cays and inlets.
- Mountains and areas with good forest cover - Mount Diablo (St. Ann) and Dolphin Head Mountain (Hanover)
Jamaica’s birds and their eggs are protected under the Wild Life Protection Act (1945) which prohibits “hunting, harassment, capture and possession of the “whole or any part” of a protected bird. There is an established bird shooting season which runs, generally, from the third weekend in August and for six weekends thereafter. The season can be adjusted based on the preseason surveys of the bird population and other factors which affect the livelihood of birds – including weather and disease.