Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Pair of Jamaican Near-Endemics

Jamaica has 28 endemic bird species, but several more are range restricted to only one or a few other Caribbean islands.

Vervain Hummingbird

For example, Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) is range restricted to Jamaica and the island of Hispaniola (Haiti & the Dominican Republic). Vervain Hummingbird has the distinction of being the second smallest bird in the world, being only slightly larger than its sister species the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), a Cuban endemic.

Another Jamaican near-endemic is the Jamaican Oriole (Icterus leucopteryx).

Jamaican Oriole

This one really ought to be considered a Jamaican endemic since the only other place it occurs is the island of San AndrĂ©s, a small (57 km2) Columbian possession 800 km southwest of Jamaica.

Jamaican Oriole (a.k.a. "Baird's Banana-bird") also formerly occurred on the island of Grand Cayman; the last known individual was collected as a specimen by ornithologist James Bond on March 6, 1930.

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