Friday, February 22, 2008

Jamaican Hummingbirds


One of our Caribbean cruise stops was Montego Bay, the second largest city in Jamaica. Jamaica was among my dream destinations mainly because of reggae. But this short visit didn’t give me the opportunity to explore the music, except the Bob Marley songs played by our tour guide on the bus.

Compared to most Cribbean islands which are flat, the mountainous topography makes Jamaica especially beautiful. With its lushly covered mountains and waterfalls, it reminds me a lot of Hawaii. Besides the gorgeous natural beauty, my unexpected amazing experience was feeding hummingbirds at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, established by nature-lover Lisa Salmon in 1954 and was opened to the public 8 years later.

This place is located in the secluded hills of Anchovy, overlooking Montego Bay. The courtyard is just a mini emerald city, where time slows down for a deep breath. We sat there holding honey-water bottles the caretaker gave us, waiting for the beautiful creatures to come. A few minutes later, they started gathering. The moment the first brave hummingbird stood on my finger sucking the honey-water, I held my breath.

I only sighted female ruby-throated hummingbirds occasionally in my backyard before, but nothing compared to the hummingbirds here at Rocklands. Jamaican Streamertail (Red-billed Streamertail) is the most widespread hummingbird in Jamaica, also Jamaica’s national bird. The fluorescent green colors on their bodies are just as vibrant as the surrounding tropical leaves under the sunlight. The males have the longest tails of all hummingbirds, extremely elegant. Jamaican Mango is another common species in Jamaica with purple red heads. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery five minutes after we arrived at Rocklands, so most pictures here are from low-resolution video captures.

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