The Hummingbirds of Dominica

Dominica the most northerly of the Windward Islands, situated in the Lesser Antilles, has four species of hummingbirds, slightly above the expected number, two to three, for a Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles. The hummingbird species are the Antillean crested hummingbird, green-throated carib, purple-throated carib, and the blue-headed hummingbird. The purple-throated carib and the green-throated carib belong to the mongos clade whilst the blue-headed hummingbird and the Antillean crested hummingbirds are from the emeralds clade.

Note, the Antillean crested hummingbird has four sub species, O.c. exilis, O.c. cristatus, O.c. ornatus, and O.c. emigrans. O.c. exilis, found in Dominica, has a range from Puerto Rico to St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles. Subspecies O.c. cristatus is found on Barbados, O.c. ornatus on St. Vincent, and O.c. emigrans in Grenada and the Grenadines[4].

The blue-headed hummingbird is endemic to the island/region, i.e., Dominica and Martinique, which is 40km to its south. But is absent on Guadeloupe, which is nearer, only 28km to Dominica's north. The Antillean crested hummingbird ranges from Puerto Rico to the Lesser Antilles, inclusive of Dominica, Barbados, and Saint. Vincent and the Grenadines in the south. The known range of the green-throated carib is from Puerto Rico to the Lesser Antilles, including Trinidad and Tobago, where it is an itinerant visitor. The purple-throated carib's natural range is the Lesser Antilles, from Anguilla in the north to Saint Vincent in the south and as a vagrant on Grenada, and the Virgin Islands.

Several birding spots in Dominica are productive for spotting hummingbirds. Amongst them, Morne Dablotin, Morne Macaque and Segment-7 (Hatton Garden to First Camp) of Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT) present more opportunities to observe all four species. The Botanical Gardens is fruitful for the Antillean crested hummingbird, green-throated hummingbird, and the purple-throated hummingbird. Middleham trails likely contributions are the blue-headed hummingbird and the purple-throated hummingbird. Whilst, Segment-10 (Colihaut Heights to Syndicate) of Waitukubuli National Trail WNT, Syndicate Nature Trail, and Boeri Lake Trek are likely to offer the blue-headed hummingbird and the purple-throated hummingbird.

Dominica Hummingbirds/caption>
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)

Length: 8–9.5 cm (3.15–3.7")
Weight: 3.5–4g
Description: A short, straight, black bill and dark-brown eyes; male (♂): glossy-green crown with a green crest tipped metallic-green to blue-green set forward on the head; coal-black malar; glossy green nape; lustrous bronze-green upperparts; coal-black chin and throat; blackish underparts; glossy, bronze-green feathers at front of shoulder; bluish-black flight feathers, and sooty black underwing; dark, bronze-green, central retrices but sooty-black undertail; and blackish legs and feet; female (♀): without the crest on the crown; upperparts are like the male; however, exhibits pale grey underparts; and broad, light-greyish tips on the outer tail retrices; and immature: resembles female with washed yellowish-brown head
Habitat: forest edges, clearings, urban areas, parks, lowlands, and highlands.
Range: the eastern Caribbean, from Puerto Rico, in the north, to the Lesser Antilles, i.e., until Grenada in the South. It is recorded as a vagrant in Florida, USA[1].

Note: O.c. exilis is the subspecies of the Antillean crested hummingbird found on Dominica.


Blue-headed Hummingbird (Cyanophaia bicolor)

Length: 9–11cm (3.54–4.33")
Weight: male 4.7g; female 4.5g
Description: straight, black bill; pinkish at base of lower mandible; metallic violet-blue head; male (♂): bluish-green upperparts, with shinning back; violet blue throat; violet-blue upper breast; and violet-blue, slightly-forked tail; and female (♀): somewhat black earmuffs; green upperparts; greyish-white underparts; white corners on outer retrices and with bluish, subterminal tail band.
Habitat: subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, secondary forests, forest edges, and mountainous, riverine areas.
Range: Dominica and Martinique

Note: Endemic to region, i.e., Dominica and Martinique

Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus)

Length: 10.5–12cm (3.94–4.72")
Weight: 5–7.8g
Description: a large hummingbird; slightly decurved black bill; metallic green head otherwise metallic bronze-green upperparts; bright green gorget bordered by brilliant metallic blue on chest, depending on lighting; black belly with some green feathering; deep dark blue primaries, may appear greyish brown; green underwing coverts; rounded tail, mostly blue-green upper tail coverts, under tail coverts are metallic blue; dark grey legs; dark grey feet; female (♀): longer and more de-curved bill, duller green upper parts, dark blue tail feathers, in low light the tail looks black; and immature: resembles the female but with bleached brown head.
Habitat: cultivations, deciduous forest, forest, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, parks, plantations, roadside, secondary forest, and woodlands.
Range: Puerto Rico, Eastern Caribbean, i.e., Lesser Antilles including the Netherlands Antilles (St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius), and vagrant on Trinidad and Tobago.

Note: The green-throated Carib, a.k.a. green doctor bird, has two subspecies: Eulampis holosericeus and Eulampis chlorolaemus. Eulampis holosericeus ranges from Puerto Rico in the Greater Antilles to the Windward Islands except the island of Grenada. Eulampis chlorolaemus, resident on the island of Grenada, has a darker green throat with a thicker violet-blue delimit at the chest.


Imperial Parrot (a.k.a. Sisserou) (Amazona imperialis)

Length: 48cm (19")
Weight: male 900g; female 650g.
Description: a stout bird with grey, short, curved (hooked) beak; purple head with uneven bluish-green overlays and black trim to feathers; orange-red irises; reddish-brown ear patch; purplish-brown malar; green back; purple throat; purple underparts; green wings; green-tipped red tail; and grey zygodactyl—first and fourth toes are directed backward the second and third forward—feet; and immature: greater degree of green, at back of the head and nape; and brown eyes.
Habitat: highland or mountain rainforests.
Range: Dominica

IUCN Status: EN (Endangered)

Note: The imperial parrot is endemic to Dominica. It is endangered primarily because of habitat loss. It shares overlapping habitats with Dominica's hummingbirds.

It is locally known as sisserou. It is the National Bird of Dominica and is represented on the nation's Coat of Arms and other national items[2].

Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis)

Length: 11–12cm (4.33–4.72")
Weight: male 9–12g, female 7–10g
Description: a tending large hummingbird; long, decurved, black bill; mostly dark overall with suggestions of deep-purple; lustrous, emerald-green wings; deep-purple to dull-purple, iridescent malar, throat, and chest; bluish rump; and greenish-blue tail; female (♀): smaller than the male, longer and tighter curved bill, and has shorter wings; and immature: shorter bills, dispersed brown feathers on upperparts, red flecks on orange throat and chest.
Habitat: forest edges, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, secondary forests.
Range: Lesser Antilles (eastern Caribbean), from Saba in the north to St. Vincent in the south and as a vagrant in Barbados, Barbuda, Grenada and the Virgin Islands.

Note: The purple-throated carib shows in Brazil as a vagrant[3].


Red-necked Parrot (a.k.a. Jacko)(Amazona arausiaca)

Length: 40cm (15.75")
Weight:550–650 g
Description: a stout, mainly green bird; grey-tipped, pale-grey, short, hooked bill; orange-red irises; blue lores; blue forehead; blue crown; violet-blue malar; feathers of the nape, neck and back are trim black; red flash on primary flight feathers; red lower throat; yellow undertail coverts; yellow band on tail; and grey zygodactyl—first and fourth toes are directed backward the second and third forward—feet; and immature birds have brown irises.
Habitat: lowland and montane forest
Range: Dominica

IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)

Note: The red-necked parrot is endemic to Dominica. Its name is due to the orange and reddish feathers found on its lower throat. Notably found in trails closest to Morne Diablotin, where hummingbirds are also found.


Works Cited

1Schulenberg, T. S. Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus). Neotropical Birds Online. [Online] Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2010. [Cited: September 19, 2016.]
2Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. National Bird. Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica--Portal. [Online] Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 2016. [Cited: November 24, 2016.]
3BirdLife International. Species factsheet: Eulampis jugularis. BirdLife International. [Online] 2015. [Cited: July 2, 2015.]
4LACK, David. The Numbers of species of humminbirds in the West Indies. Eastern Caribbean Flora, University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. [Online] 1972. [Cited: November 23, 2016.]

Antillean Crested Hummingbird