Jamaica's national bird is considered the most spectacular hummingbird in the Caribbean.
The Red-billed Streamertail — also known as the "doctor bird" — is endemic to Jamaica and is the most populous and widespread species of the hummingbird family. They are about five inches long and have a 6.5-inch wingspan. The feathers are a glistening emerald green. Males have a black head and tail. Females have a grey-brown head and white underparts. The long, pointed beak is bright red with a black tip.
The newly-hatched young have no feathers, and are fed regurgitated insects. After just three weeks they are ready to venture out of the nest. The species makes a shrill, repetitive “teet-teet-teet” sound, often as a sign of distress. It feeds on nectar, spiders and insects, and is aggressive in protecting its desired feeding ground.
These hummingbirds are only found in Jamaica, particularly in the western portion of the island. As Jamaica's national bird, the Red-billed Streamertail is an important part of the island's culture and is also prominent in Jamaican folklore. For example, killing the bird is believed to bring bad fortune to the perpetrator.
Next time you visit Jamaica, keep your eyes and ears open for the Red-billed Streamertail.