Discovering Jamaica’s Unique National Animal: The Doctor Bird
Jamaica, known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, also boasts a unique national animal: the Doctor Bird. Also known as the swallow-tailed hummingbird or the streamer-tail, this bird is not only Jamaica’s national symbol but also holds a special place in the hearts of Jamaicans. In this article, we will delve into the world of the Doctor Bird and discover its significance to Jamaica and its people.
What is the Doctor Bird?
The Doctor Bird, scientifically known as Trochilus polytmus, is a species of hummingbird found only in Jamaica. It is known for its long, slender tail feathers that can reach up to 7 inches in length, which gives it its nickname “streamer-tail.” The male Doctor Bird has iridescent green plumage and a red-orange bill, while the female has a green-white plumage and a gray bill. They are small birds, measuring only about 3.5 inches in length.
Why is the Doctor Bird Jamaica’s National Animal?
The Doctor Bird has been a symbol of Jamaica for centuries, with its image appearing on Jamaican currency and stamps. The bird’s beauty and uniqueness have made it a symbol of Jamaica’s natural beauty and biodiversity. Additionally, the Doctor Bird’s ability to hover in place while feeding on nectar has made it a symbol of the Jamaican people’s ability to persevere through difficult times.
What is the Role of the Doctor Bird in Jamaican Culture?
The Doctor Bird holds a special place in Jamaican culture and folklore. It is said that seeing a Doctor Bird brings good luck, and it is considered a symbol of hope and resilience.
The bird’s unique tail feathers have also been used in traditional Jamaican costumes and dances. In the past, the bird’s feathers were also used to decorate the headdresses of Jamaican leaders.
Where can you find the Doctor Bird in Jamaica?
The Doctor Bird can be found throughout Jamaica, but it is most commonly seen in the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains. These are the only two locations in the world where the Doctor Bird can be found. The bird can also be found in gardens, woodlands, and even in urban areas. Visitors to Jamaica can also visit the Doctor Bird Reserve in St. James, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving the bird and its habitat.
How to attract Doctor Birds to your garden?
If you’re interested in attracting Doctor Birds to your garden, you can do so by providing food and nesting sites. Doctor Birds feed primarily on nectar, so planting native flowering plants such as hibiscus, bougainvillea, and pentas will attract them to your garden.
You can also provide a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar. Additionally, Doctor Birds will also use nesting boxes, so providing these can also attract them to your garden.
The Doctor Bird is not only Jamaica’s national animal but also holds a special place in the hearts of Jamaicans. Its beauty, uniqueness, and cultural significance make it a symbol of Jamaica’s natural beauty and the resilience of its people. Whether you’re a visitor to Jamaica or a resident, taking the time to learn about and appreciate the Doctor Bird can deepen your understanding and appreciation of the island and its culture. Whether you spot one in the wild or attract them to your garden, the Doctor Bird is sure to leave a lasting impression.