Tuesday, February 28, 2023

White-Crowned Pigeon

Another beautiful bird among the doves and pigeons I saw in Jamaica was the white-crowned pigeon. It is a species I really hoped to see. 
The white-crowned pigeon is found primarily in the Caribbean. It mainly breeds in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Antigua, but is found in lesser numbers in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Anguilla. It can also be found on the Carribean coast of Central America and in southern Florida, in the Everglades and Florida Keys. 

They mainly live and breed in coastal red mangrove forests and go inland to feed on fruits and seeds. 

It can be a slate gray to black and has an iridescent collar patch which can only be seen in good light. The crown patch is a white to gray white. It has a white iris and a pale red bill with a gray tip. 
I saw only two of them and both were on the grounds of the Hotel Mockingbird Hill outside of Port Antonio. I did notice mangrove trees along waters edge as we drove along the coast in the area. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Jamaican Common Ground Dove

I've seen a few common ground doves before, near the headquarters of the Sonny Bono NWR, near the Salton Sea in Calipatria, California. However, at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary near Montego Bay, Jamaica, I saw lots of them scrambling for seed that had been spread out upon the ground. 
Male common ground dove.
They are found in the southwestern and southeastern U.S., through much of Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean, and north central and north eastern South America. There are 17 subspecies. The nominate subspecies (passerina) is found in the southeastern U.S., I've seen the southwestern subspecies (pallescens) and Jamaica has its own subspecies (jamaicensis) which is noted by a pale beak with males having a dark underbelly. 
Female common ground dove.
It has a pink to yellow bill with a black tip. Feathers on the head and upper breast have a scale-like appearance which can look like dimpling on a golf ball. 
The back, coverts and wing feathers are brown and the coverts and wing feathers have black spotting. It has chestnut primaries and wing borders that can only be seen when flying. Males have slate gray feathers on the top of the head and pink gray on the belly. Females are more gray and more evenly colored.  

It forages on the ground for vegetation, seeds, fruits, insects and snails. It is the smallest dove found in the U.S. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Ruddy Quail-Dove

This is a continuation of doves and pigeons in Jamaica. 

The ruddy quail-dove is found throughout the West Indies, Central America and tropical South America. It forages on the ground eating seeds and small invertebrates. eBird notes that it is "shy and infrequently seen." 
It has: (a) a distinctive orange eye ring; (b) pinkish red legs, feet and bill with a light purple tip; (c) a yellowish rump and lower belly; (d) a distinctive stripe beneath the eye which goes from the side of the head to below the beak, outlined on each side by dark brown with a whitish tan center; (e) a ruddy brown chest and upper belly with whitish tan streaking; and (f) a darker brown back, feathers and tail with varying shades of brown. 

I saw this one ruddy quail-dove at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary outside Montego Bay. 

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.    

Friday, February 24, 2023

Jamaican Caribbean Dove

The Caribbean dove is gorgeous. Head-on it looks mostly white, with a continuous white forehead, face, throat and underparts, a white blotch at the front of its folded wing and a white eye sometimes with a red ring and surrounded by dull purple skin. 

The sides of the neck and the mantle (the upper middle of the back that form a "v" shape below the neck feathers) are rosy red with an iridescent green and/or purple gloss. 
The upperparts are olive brown. The tails inner feathers are grayish brown and the outer tail feathers are black with white tips. The legs and feet are red. The female is similar to the male, but the iridescence is duller. 
There are four subspecies. The Jamaican Caribbean dove is the nominate subspecies, found in Jamaica and introduced to New Providence in the Bahamas. There is also a Cayman Islands subspecies, a subspecies found on San Andres island off eastern Nicaragua (a part of Colombia), and a subspecies found in parts of Mexico (the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel), Honduras and Belize. 

I saw the Jamaican subspecies at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in the outskirts of Montego Bay, Jamaica, near the northeastern shore of the island. Of all the birds I saw in Jamaica, this one really jumped out at me and is a favorite. It forages on the ground for seeds and small snails.