Rocklands Bird Sanctuary

Rocklands Bird Sanctuary Jamaica is a famous place close to Montego Bay.

Described as as "Bird Feeding & Watching, in the tranquil relaxed setting of a country cottage, patio & garden opens at 10:00 AM contact (876) 952-2009
Rocklands is located in the hills close to a little town known as Anchovy in the Parish of  Saint James about 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Montego Bay. 

It's is a bird sanctuary whose primary attraction is the feeding of the famous Jamaican hummingbird which  is  Jamaica's National  Bird. It is known locally as the Doctor bird. 

Over the years Rockland's bird sanctuary has become a famous attraction among tourists and locals alike. The attraction of course are the thousands of wild birds that live in the sanctuary. This makes Rockland Bird Sanctuary a kind of paradise for bird watchers and bird lovers.

Feeding the Hummingbirds.

One of the most incredible thing you can do at the Rockland Bird Sanctuary is to feed the usually wild and incredibly agile Hummingbird. On arrival at the Sanctuary you can look forward to meeting your guide, the man everyone calls Fritz, who has spent over 30 years living and working on the property. He will provide you with the bottles you need to feed the hummingbirds.

Watch with amazement as the beautiful and majestic hummingbirds come and sit on your finger and drink.  As soon as you come to the property you are surrounded by hummingbirds and the sound of the wings. The fact that hummingbirds can fly down from the trees, perch on your finger to drink nectar from a bottle feels simply surreal.

The Legend of the Humming bird

The birds of Jamaica include a total of 326 species as of May 2020. According to bird checklists of the world 28 of them are endemic to Jamaica. The national symbol of Jamaica is  the red bill strimmer tale, this is a hummingbird that is also known as swallowtail, scissor tail or doctor bird. It is indigenous to Jamaica where it is the most widespread member of the hummingbird family and it is one of the most spectacular amongst all humming bird species. It is covered with shimmering green and black feathers. The male Doctor bird also has a distinct tail with two long black feathers that trail behind him while he flies around.

It is known that the first inhabitants of the island, the Arawaks believed that the green hummingbird was magical, because the species are very fast and hard to catch and kill. They believed it was a God bird. The reincarnation of the dead that held their souls. For years the doctor bird has been immortalized in Jamaican folklore and songs. In general hummingbirds are birds native to the Americas. They are the smallest of birds.

Most species measuring from three inches or seven centimeters in length and barely weight anything. They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in midair at rapid wing flapping rates which vary from around 12 beats per second in the larger species to the excess of 80 in some of the smallest. The syrup that is used to feed the bird is a simply mixture of sugar and water, mix to a concentration that is palatable for the hummingbirds.

 

Hummingbirds use a lot of energy; indeed they have the highest mass specific metabolic rate of any homoeothermic animal. To conserve energy when food is scarce and nightly when they're not forging they can go into torpor A state similar to hibernation can slow the metabolic rate to 1/ 15 of its normal rate. Hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue

History of Rockland 

In  1804 the area of the Rocklands park was known as Scarlets. There was just a private house of the scarlet family that owned a lot of land around Jamaica and then the house was abandoned in the 19th century. Originally Hummingbirds were not interacting with humans in such a way and the area around the house was no different to any other. However all of that changed in the middle of the 20th century. There was a white Jamaican woman Lisa Salmon she's the one who started this in 1952. She started feeding hummingbirds. It took her six years before the birds came to her down in the forest. This was her home built in the late 40s. She opened to the Bird Sanctuary tp the public in 1958.

Our guide explained that when he moved here in 1952, he realized that nobody was thinking about the birds, and they were shooting the birds mercilessly . So he took up the cause of the birds and that brought the sanctuary into being. Sadly Lisa Salmon passed away in the year 2000 at the age of  96. What she began as bird sanctuary, her legacy still lives on.

The property was inherited by her nephew and is looked after by Fritz. There are no birds in cage here at Rockland. The Park is over three acres with bird different bird feeders everywhere.

The Negatives

The only objective negative that you should be aware of is that this experience can be weather and time dependent. Birds are living creatures and they live in the wild and obviously you cannot order them to come to you if they don't want to. We came at around half past 10 in the morning and the weather was just fantastic. There were so many birds flying around and some were even fighting to get to us. We didn't have to wait for them at all. They were all around us even before we could get a bottle to feed them.

However if you come when it's too cloudy, too windy or rainy or when it's late afternoon you might not get as lucky. So time and weather is the first thing to keep in mind when planning a trip to rocklands.

The second one which is more subjective is the drive itself Rocklands is located in the hills close to a little town known as Anchovy in the Parish of  Saint James about 30 minutes’ drive from Montego Bay downtown area you can easily drive there by yourself with a rented car. Most of the road is pretty good but there is a little part that is really steep and has a few potholes. If you've never driven on anything but quality highways, this road might be a challenge for you.

The place is in the hills and when you add up entrance fees and taxi fare it could come to around 120 USD dollars for two people easily or maybe even more depending on where you are staying in Jamaica. Just be prepaid to pay about $20 per person for the entrance fee.

Conclusion

Rockland Bird sanctuary is not a tourist show, it is not a museum with scientific information about birds. It’s not a botanical garden. It's just a private place but a place where people have been taming hummingbirds which are supposed to be untamable. Human being can see these tiny creatures not only like catching a glimpse of them flying somewhere in the bush but right here and can even feed them sitting down with their tiny little feet. You can sit on top of the hill, get an awesome view and relax in nature. We highly recommend the experience. Don't just take our word for it. Rockland Bird sanctuary was Awarded the 2020 Tripadvisor visitors choice award. See you there.