I promised myself I would not let August slip away without writing a post on this blog. A year and a few hummingbirds have flown by since I clicked the publish button. I spent from September 2015 till the end of April 2016 traveling and having a sabbatical of sorts. It was important for me to take a break from all the work involved in running my retreat. I was able to meditate, spend time with my family in the south, and visit Jamaica during January, February and the first week of March. It was interesting and quite wonderful to sidestep the cold of winter. I do not remember ever getting away for the entire winter during the forty-one years I have called New England my home. I do love winter in many of its icy gray ways. But, having had a year off, I wonder how I will survive without getting away for at least two of the coldest months from here on out. I did get to know and love some of the colorful wildlife in Jamaica and the memory of their beauty will surely lure me back in the future.
Red-billed Streamertail Hummingbirds
The striking hummingbirds were my favorites. Early mornings, I stood on my balcony waiting for them to come to sip from the bright hibiscus blossoms covering a large bush just below my railing. During my walks to the sea, I would encounter the hummers high in trees diving into various blooms. It was always a special sighting and especially exciting to capture a male. The Red-billed Streamertail is also known as the ‘Doctor Bird’ and is endemic to Jamaica. This dazzling hummer along with the Black-billed Streamertail are the Island’s National bird.
One sunny morning, a young or a molting male Red-billed Streamertail hummingbird was perched on a wire fence next to a friend’s garden. As I walked nearer, he did not seem to mind my taking his portrait. I was amazed he allowed me to get so close. More often, I could hardly see them for their speedy natures. His tail is beginning to lengthen but a long way from what will become the longest tail of any hummingbird the world over. The other two hummers sipping from hibiscus above are a mystery to me. They might be females, but then, they might be juvenile males.
The three females or young male Red-billed Streamertails above are even more confusing. They seem much smaller, though I guess it could be their posture. The slightly curving bills and coloring of the middle and far left hummingbirds seem to match, but the hummer to the far right is quite different. There are Ruby-throated hummingbirds in Jamaica, and at first glance, I thought this could be a female. It seems too big to be the tiny Vervain hummingbird that lives on the island. And much to big to be the Bee hummingbird . . . the tiniest bird in the world. My friends had sighted the tiny hummer in their garden most mornings, but I never got the chance to see it. It was lovely to be around these tiny creatures for two months last winter. I have a few Ruby-throated fledglings here darting about Flower Hill Farm but they will be heading south soon. I have a few more tropical hummers to share next time.