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Location Jamaica, Clarendon Parish
Central coordinates 77o 10.00' West  17o 44.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, B4i, B4ii
Area 42,829 ha
Altitude 0 - 150m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description 17044’ N; 77010 W The most southerly point of the island Portland Ridge, together with Hellshire Hills and Brazilletto Mountain, represents the largest remaining relatively intact dry limestone forests in Central America and the Caribbean. It is Ja-maica's largest protected area to date - he whole area is called The Portland Bight Protected Area, with a total area of 724 sq. miles (1876 km2) [see Conservation section below]. The protected area includes a marine section, Portland Bight, that encompasses all the area out to the 200 meter depth contour, as well as inshore mangroves. This latter is the Peake Bay Forest Reserve (516 ha) and part of the terrestrial section is Crown Lands (2271 ha).

Key Biodiversity This IBA is internationally important for the West Indian Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arborea (VU), the Plain Pigeon Patagioenas inornata (NT) and White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala (NT), as well as the restricted range (and endemic subspecies) Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachi hillii. Other species include the three Myiarchus Flycatchers, and the Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo Coccyzus vetula . Portland Ridge dry forest may provide a critical resource for the Plain Pigeon, perhaps at a time when fruit abundance is low on other parts of the island. Given the globally significant number of Plain Pigeons that use this site, protection from further development should be a priority (Strong and Johnson, 2001). The Portland Bight cays are the only ones nearshore which host nesting colonies of a variety of seabirds, such as Brown Noddy Anous stolidus and the Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens; also the mangroves provide nesting locations for columbids and other species. Migrant shorebirds are numerous – the last reported sighting of the Piping Plover Charadrius melodus (NT) was in this location. The forest and surrounding areas are habitat for many terrestrial migrants.

Non-bird biodiversity: Many of the hillsides that appear as intact forests are in fact secondary forests. Jamaican dry for-ests are dominated by plants of the Rubiaceae Euphorbiaceae and Myrtaceae and have a high degree of endemism, of which several require special protection including species of Orchida-ceae and Cactaceae. No comprehensive vegeta-tion survey has been carried out, but due to pres-sures from recent fires and hurricanes, it is sus-pected that much may have been lost or at risk. Also, replanting of ‘bird-feeding trees’ by hunting clubs has created semi-monoculture in some ar-eas. The tree frog Eleutherodactylus cavernicola (CR) has only ever been found in 2 caves in Portland Ridge, while the Blue-tailed Galliwasp Celestus duquesneyi (IUCN DD 2004), last collected in Portland Ridge in the late 1930s, was rediscovered in Hellshire Hills in 1997, so it is possible it still exists here. Other endemics pre-sent in the area include the Jamaican Boa Epicrates subflavus (VU), and the Jamai-can Fruit-eating Bat Ariteus flavescens (VU); also two endemic Thunder snakes Tro-phidophis stullae and Trophidophis jamaicen-cis are entirely restricted to Portland Ridge. The area also houses caves of importance for “a diverse assemblage of late Pleistocene and Holo-cene vertebrate remains…” (McFarlane et al. 2002).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea resident  1997  50-249 individuals  poor  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens resident  1997  300 individuals  poor  B4ii  Least Concern 
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus resident  1997  600 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala resident  2007  unknown  A1  Near Threatened 
Plain Pigeon Patagioenas inornata resident  2007  unknown  A1  Near Threatened 
Jamaican Lizard-cuckoo Coccyzus vetula resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Owl Pseudoscops grammicus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Mango Anthracothorax mango resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Red-billed Streamertail Trochilus polytmus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Tody Todus todus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Elaenia Myiopagis cotta resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Sad Flycatcher Myiarchus barbirostris resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Myiarchus validus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Vireo Vireo modestus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii resident  2007  3,000-5,000 individuals  poor  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Oriole Icterus leucopteryx resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Yellow-shouldered Grassquit Loxipasser anoxanthus resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Spindalis Spindalis nigricephala resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Jamaican Euphonia Euphonia jamaica resident  2007  unknown  A2  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Portland Bight Protected Area 187,615 protected area contains site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mangrove  40%
Shrubland Arid lowland scrub; Scrub  10%
Coastline   major
Sea   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland minor
water management minor
fisheries/aquaculture minor
hunting minor
urban/industrial/transport minor
nature conservation and research major

Protection status In 1999 a new protected area was declared which included Portland Bight, the largest protected area to date covering 187,615 hectares and manage-ment delegation to a local NGO was proposed.

Further web sources of information 

Site profile from Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008)

References Management Plan for birds of the Portland Bight Protected Area: Part 1 - Landbirds in Wetlands by CCAM and NFWF 2001

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Portland Ridge and Bight. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife