The Jamaican Humming Bird

Uncategorized August 12, 2015

The Hummingbirds are New World Birds that constitute the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) range.

They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at rapid wing-flapping rates, typically around 50 times per second, allowing them also to fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h; 34 mph), backwards.

The Jamaican Humming Bird, the doctor bird is an outstanding bird.  It is one of 320 species of hummingbirds and the most unique as it can only be found in Jamaica. The scientific name for the doctor bird is Trochihlus Polytmus”. It may also be called the“swallow-tail hummingbird”. The Doctor Bird feathers have a shimmering emerald green and black colour, a trait which is peculiar to this family of birds.

There are two types of these birds.

One is the black billed, which is found in the east, and the other is the red-billed, which is found island-wide. They are found mostly in closed forest wherever there is flowering plants. However, it can also be seen in gardens and parks.

The mature male has two distinctive long tails which stream behind him when he flies. The pair of wings next to the tail feathers extend about 15 cm from its back, these are usually crossed. The female does not have long feathers forming a tail but has shorter tail feathers with a white tip.

These birds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue or catch small insects on the wing. Doctor Birds tend to feed frequently during the day time and hibernate at night to conserve energy.

It is called Doctor Bird for different reasons by different persons. One states that it is called ‘doctor’ because the long, black tail of the adult male resembles the long, black tail coats doctors wore in the past. And another says that it is called doctor because it gives medicine to the plants when it lances the flowers with its long bill.The Taino Indians believed that the Doctor Bird has magical powers and called it the “God Bird”, believing it to be the reincarnation of a dead soul.

In the rural parts of Jamaica there is a belief that killing a Doctor Bird will bring bad fortune to one’s self. However, killing a Doctor Bird is not easy, there is even a Jamaica saying “Doctor Bud a cunny bud, hard bud fi dead” (the Doctor Bird is a clever bird which cannot be easily killed).

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