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21 May 2016

Red-billed Streamertail

Red-billed Streamertail (紅嘴長尾蜂鳥)
Jamaica (1995)

26th January, 2016. Negril Resorts

The red-billed streamertail also known as the doctor bird, scissor-tail or scissors tail hummingbird, 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 continue to consider it conspecific with the black-billed streamertail. The red-billed streamertail is the national bird of Jamaica.

When the black-billed streamertail of eastern Jamaica 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.

The next-to-outermost rectrices of the male are 15–18 centimetres 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."

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