Red-billed streamertail

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"Doctor Bird" redirects here. For the record label, see Doctor Bird Records.
Red-billed streamertail
Red-billed Streamertail male RWD4.jpg
Male
Red-billed Streamertail female RWD2.jpg
Female
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Trochilus
Species: T. polytmus
Binomial name
Trochilus polytmus
Linnaeus, 1758

The Red-billed Streamertail (Trochilus polytmus), also known as the Doctor Bird, is indigenous to Jamaica, where it is the most abundant and widespread member of the hummingbird family. While most authorities now consider it a separate species, some (including the American Ornithologists' Union) continue to consider it conspecific with the Black-billed Streamertail. The Red-billed Streamertail is the national bird of Jamaica.[2]

When the Black-billed Streamertail of eastern Jamaica (found mostly in the parish of Portland) is considered a separate species, the Red-billed Streamertail occurs west of a line from Morant Bay following the Morant River, and via Ginger House and the middle Rio Grande to Port Antonio.[3]

The next-to-outermost rectrices of the male are 15–18 centimetres (6–7 in) long, far longer than its bearer's body. Trailing behind the flying hummingbird like thin black streamers, these feathers make a humming sound. Females lack the elongated rectrices, and are largely white below.

These birds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue or catch small insects on the wing.

The bird is featured in Ian Fleming's James Bond short story For Your Eyes Only. The first line of the book reads, "The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird."

Description[edit]

The adult male measures 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) without the 'streamers'. With the streamers, it measures 10 inches (25 cm). The crown and tail are black. The feathers at the nape of the neck form tufts. The body is a bright iridescent green. The bill is red with a black tip. The 'black-billed' streamertail is identical in every respect except for the colour of the bill, but is a slightly smaller bird. The female's crown, neck and back are pale green. The lores are pale brown, the wings dark brown, and the tail black with outer feathers tipped with white. The underparts are white. The bill has a dark brown upper mandible and pinkish-brown lower mandible.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Trochilus polytmus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "National Symbols of Jamaica". jis.gov.jm. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  3. ^ Frank B. Gill, F. J. Stokes & C. Stokes (1973). "Contact zones and hybridization in the Jamaican hummingbird, Trochilus polytmus (L.)". The Condor 75 (2): 170–176. doi:10.2307/1365864. JSTOR 1365864. 
  4. ^ Bernal, Frank (1989). Birds of Jamaica. Jamaica: Heinemann Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd. p. 52. 

External links[edit]