Doctor Bird: Pieces of the Past

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Excerpt from Rebecca Tortello’s Pieces of the Past: A Stroll Down Jamaica’s Memory Lane

Jamaica’s national bird, and a species of hummingbird, it is only found in Jamaica. Iridescent like all hummingbirds, there are many stories that explain the naming of the Doctor Bird.

One states that it is called ‘doctor’ because its long black tail (of the adult male) resembles the long black tail coats doctors were known to have worn in the past.

Another explains that it is called ‘doctor’ because it gives medicine to the plants when it lances the flowers with their long bills.

Yet another explains that the name comes from an association with tobacco, a ritual plant also used as medicine by Taino shamans (medicine men).