The enchanting Red-billed Streamertail or “Trochilus polytmus,” also known as the doctor bird, scissor-tail, or scissors tail hummingbird is indigenous to Jamaica. The Red-billed Streamertail is the most abundant and widespread member of the hummingbird family. This is the national bird of Jamaica, and many authorities consider it a separate species, however, some are conspecific with the black-billed streamertail.
Jamaica is the only place in the world where the Red-billed Red-billed Streamertail can be found in the splendor of this marvelous hummingbird. The bird is a stunning creation of God and is mostly found in the line from Morant Bay following the Morant River and Ginger House and the Middle of the Rio Grande to Port Antonio.
The Red-billed is the most easily observable Jamaican endemic bird and is well represented in Jamaican folklore, and killing these birds is considered to bring bad fortune to one’s self in most parts of rural Jamaica. The male hummingbird’s outermost rectrices are six to seven in length, longer than its bearer’s body. The female bird lacks the elongated rectrices and is largely white below.
Though, trailing behind the flying hummingbird like thin black streamers, these feathers make a humming sound. The bird feed is mainly nectar from flowers with the help of long extendable tongues or catches small insects on the wing. This is the most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor hummingbird.
The male bird is 4.5 inches without streamers while the crown and tail are black. The body is a bright iridescent green, however, the female’s crown neck and back are pale green. Moreover, the lores are pale brown, the wings dark brown, and the tail black with outer feathers tipped with white. The underparts are white. The bill has a dark brown upper mandible and a pinkish-brown lower mandible.
The Red-billed Streamertail voice is loud, metallic-sounding ‘ting, ting, ting’ repeated several times or a prolonged “tee-tee-tee…” often heard as a distress call. Normally bird nest is compactly built with plant materials, spider webs,s and camouflaged with lichens.
Red-billed Streamertail breeding season round the year however, October to March is the key months. The bird is most abundant in the closed forest but is a common garden bird and a popular garden-feeder species. The bird likes to eat nectar, spiders, and small insects.
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