Nestled in the hills just outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica is an amazingly unique bird-lovers paradise. Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in the parish of St. James offers a thrilling experience even for people who aren’t usually “birders”. Visitors are given the opportunity to see and feed birds, in particular hummingbirds, by having them perch right on their fingers! It is surreal feeling the beautiful, tiny, delicate hummingbirds rest on your finger as you feed them while listening to the soothing sound of their hum.
With stunning emerald green chests and ruby red beaks you’ll want to watch them for hours. This interactive session occurs each day, mainly in the afternoon and the sanctuary is so “off the beaten path” that you’ll actually need directions to get there. Located in Anchovy, St. James it is approximately 30 minutes away from Montego Bay by car. Take the main road West of Montego Bay (towards Lucea and Negril), after about 3 miles you will come to a town called Reading where a clearly marked sign points to the road leading inland (left). Follow this inland road for about half a mile until you see signs to the bird sanctuary.
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Once you’re there the fun begins almost immediately since most of the bird feeding activity is right on the porch of the home on the sanctuary. Your host/guide will first equip you with seeds and bottles of nectar, then instruct you to hold out your finger for the birds to perch on before very quietly and calmly calling the humming birds. After just a few minutes you’ll hear some funny little whirring noises as they approach and in no time there are humming birds whizzing all over the place, hovering right in front of your face, settling on your finger and sticking their long beaks into the little bottles to get the contents inside. Other small birds will immediately land on your laps to get the seeds there.
It is believed that there are over 200 species of birds in Jamaica and many of them can be seen at the Rocklands Bird Feeding Sanctuary. Some of the species reportedly seen by Ornithologists include: the Red Billed Streamer-tail Hummingbird (aka Doctor Bird), the Jamaican Mango, the Vervain Hummingbird, the Bee Hummingbird, the Black and Yellow-faced Grassquits, the Orangequit, the Jamaican Woodpecker, the Northern Parula, the Jamaican Tody, the Jamaican Parakeet, and the Green-rumped Parrotlet (just to name a few).
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Rocklands was established by Lisa Salmon, one of Jamaica’s first environmentalists. Miss Salmon or “the bird lady” as she was affectionately known purchased the Rocklands property in 1954 and in 1962, due to it’s popularity among the birds themselves, Rocklands was opened to the public. Lisa sadly died in 2000 at the age of 96 but her legacy lives on. Rocklands is now run by Lisa’s nephew and managed by Fritz. Fritz has been working at Rocklands for over 15 years and has a gift for spotting and beckoning the birds which dwell in the surrounding trees.
After feeding the birds on the porch, guests will then take a guided tour around the gardens on the property, viewing (and smelling) a variety of plants, trees and flowers. The whole experience will have you wishing you could return the moment you leave and is without doubt one of the best things to do on your next trip to Jamaica (and the one after that too).
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