Saturday, February 25, 2023

Crested Quail-Dove

Jamaica is home to some fantastic species of dove and pigeon. Yesterday I did a post on the Jamaican Caribbean dove. Today's post is on another favorite, the crested quail-dove, which is endemic to Jamaica. We saw the crested quail-dove in the highlands of the Blue Mountains in Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park, which raises a number of geographical questions in my mind that I try to answer first, before getting to the dove. 
Our last full day in Jamaica we were with a birding guide, Lyndon Johnson of Arrowhead Birding. We started birding at Hotel Mockingbird Hill, in Drapers, east of Port Antonio, on the northeastern side of Jamaica, then drove west along the A4, the main road along the north shore. In Buff Bay we turned south on the B1, an extremely narrow road without guardrails, that winds its way up, over and down the Blue Mountains, through Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, to Kingston. 

There are three mountain ranges on the eastern end of Jamaica: (1) the Port Royal Mountains; (2) the Blue Mountains; and (3) the John Crow Mountains. The Port Royal Mountains are on the southeastern side of Jamaica, east of where the Palisadoes spit, that contains Port Royal and protects Kingston Harbor, connects to the mainland. The high point is about 1,837 feet. The John Crow Mountains are northeast of the Port Royal Mountains and east of the Blue Mountains. They parallel the northeast coast of Jamaica. They adjoin the Blue Mountains on their west side at the Rio Grande River, which empties into the Caribbean on the north coast at St. Margaret's Bay, west of Port Antonio. Bamboo rafting on the Rio Grande is a popular tourist activity. The high point is about 3,750 feet. "John crow" is the Jamaican name for the turkey vulture, first used in the 1820s. Prior to that the mountain range was known as Carrion Crow Ridge, "carrion crow" being another name for the turkey vulture in Jamaica. The Blue Mountains are the largest mountain range in Jamaica, and contain the highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 7,402 feet elevation. The range is 24 miles long by 14 miles wide at its farthest points. The higher elevations average 200 inches of rain a year, with some areas getting as much as 300 inches (the average for Jamaica is 77 inches). 

Somewhere along the challenging drive, high up in the mountains, Lyndon had us pull over and park our rented RAV 4, with little room to spare between the road and a steep drop-off. We crossed the road and hiked steadily upward through a gated fence to an area occupied by an apparent squatter, living in a large tent surrounded by scattered odd n' ends of humanity. Four crested quail doves call that area home. I got some good photos of one of the doves. 
The crested quail-dove looks like it was painted by Curious George equipped with a paint brush and varying dark colors of opened paint jars. The eye is red surrounded by bare gray skin and propped up by a chestnut jowl. The upper back and wing coverts are an iridescent reddish purple with splotches of chestnut. The reverse, chestnut with streaks of reddish purple, is found on the belly, flanks and some wing tips. The head is covered by what looks like a WWII German war helmet, with blackish blue on the front and purplish blue on the top and back. The back of the helmet juts out from the head and creates the "crest." Below the helmet, the neck is covered with bluish purple (more blue than purple) terraced ruffled feathers. The chest and upper belly is a splotchy purple and blue (more purple than blue). The rest of the back, wings and tail are a mixture of purple, metallic blue and green. Pink legs and feet complete the hodge-podge creation.    

1 comment:

  1. A gaudy bird without much taste, but very fun to see because it was so easy to see!