|Location||Jamaica, Saint Elizabeth|
|Central coordinates||77o 56.41' West 18o 2.47' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A4i, B4i|
|Year of IBA assessment||2010|
Ornithological information This IBA is significant for supporting 19 (of the 36) Jamaica EBA restricted-range birds. Sixty-one percent (17 of 28) of Jamaican endemic birds have been recorded in the IBA. More than 50 Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea breed in the wetlands, and there is presence of the Near Threatened White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala and Masked Duck Nomonyx dominicus . Other wetland and coastal bird species breeding or wintering in the area include gulls, terns, grebes, herons, egrets and gallinules. At least 35 (of the 72) species of Neotropical migratory birds recorded use the IBA in winter, such as the Swainson's Warbler Limnothlypis swainsonii, which is found regularly along the mangrove margins at the Font Hill site, but is infrequent elsewhere in Jamaica. The wetlands comprise more than 10 fresh to brackish (mangrove-fringed) ponds and sloughs that tend to dry out during the dry season (January-March), but retain at least some water in the deepest ponds every year, and thus provide one of the only sources of fresh water within tens of km of the site. These ponds provide a focus of activity (feeding, bathing, nesting) for many birds, both aquatic and terrestrial species, especially in the driest years.
Site description Font Hill IBA is located 13 km west of Black River Morass IBA (JM007) in St. Elizabeth Parish, on the south coast of south-western Jamaica. It includes 1 km offshore of marine habitat.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea||resident||2010||50-75 breeding pairs||medium||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Least Tern Sterna antillarum||breeding||2010||45-55 breeding pairs||poor||B4i||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Owl Pseudoscops grammicus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Mango Anthracothorax mango||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Red-billed Streamertail Trochilus polytmus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Tody Todus todus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Becard Pachyramphus niger||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Elaenia Myiopagis cotta||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Sad Flycatcher Myiarchus barbirostris||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Myiarchus validus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Vireo Vireo modestus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|White-chinned Thrush Turdus aurantius||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Arrowhead Warbler Dendroica pharetra||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Oriole Icterus leucopteryx||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Yellow-shouldered Grassquit Loxipasser anoxanthus||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Orangequit Euneornis campestris||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Spindalis Spindalis nigricephala||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Euphonia Euphonia jamaica||resident||2010||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Lagoons; Salt & brackish marshes; Sand dunes & beaches; Shallow marine areas, coral reefs & keys||-|
Land ownership Private property
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: A popular beach park borders the entrance to the natural area and is a popular destination for local Jamaicans.|
|Notes: The coastal areas and the freshwater ponds receive some pressure from local fishing.|
|Notes: A large portion of Font Hill is used for agricultural purposes including experimental plantings of trees for the development of coal to cashew and mango plantations to squash and yam fields|
Other biodiversity The Vulnerable West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus occurs, and the coast is a nesting area for sea turtles such as the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata , Endangered Green turtle Chelonia mydas and Loggerhead Caretta caretta . Font Hill IBA along with Black River Great Morass IBA have been identified as the most important American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus habitats in Jamaica.
Management considerations A potential touristic development, including possible nearby airstrip, has been proposed to the IBA.
Protection status Font Hill IBA is currently unprotected.
Conservation response Extensive research, both by Jamaicans and North Americans, has taken place continuously at the Font Hill property going back to at least 1986. More than 70 scientific papers have been published based on this research, over 20 graduate students have completed theses (including from Jamaica) and hundreds of interns have been trained. This site is also internationally known for its long term research on the wintering ecology of migratory songbirds. Much of this research is focused on understanding the importance of the non-breeding season for long-term population dynamics of the large numbers of Neotropical migrants that winter at the site, and for monitoring how droughts, such as are forecast by Global Circulation Models to intensify, will impact populations of migratory and resident birds as well as other animals. Many of these animals like manatees, sea turtles, and whistling-ducks also provide an important potential for eco-tourism, if managed wisely; contributing to tourism and other commercial benefits. The site has great actual and potential educational value for Jamaicans.
Acknowledgements Pete Marra, Tom Sherry, Ann Sutton
References 1) Holmes, R.T., T.W. Sherry, and L.R. Reitsma. 1989. Population structure, territoriality, and overwinter survival of two migrant warbler species in Jamaica. Condor 91: 545-561. 2) Marra, P.P., K.A. Hobson, and R.T. Holmes. 1998. Linking winter and summer events in a migratory bird by using stable-carbon isotopes. Science 282: 1884-1886. 3) Marra, P.P. 2000. The role of behavioral dominance in structuring habitat occupancy of a migrant bird during the non-breeding season. Behavioral Ecology 11: 299-308. 4) Strong, A.M., and T.W. Sherry. 2000. Habitat-specific effects of food abundance on the condition of Ovenbirds wintering in Jamaica. Journal of Animal Ecology 69:883-895. 5) Marra, P.P., and R.T. Holmes. 2001. Consequences of dominance-mediated habitat segregation in a migrant passerine bird during the non-breeding season. Auk 118:94-106. 6) Studds, C. E. and Marra, P. P. 2005. Non-breeding habitat occupancy and population processes: an upgrade experiment with a migratory bird. Ecology 86: 2380-2385. 7) Brown, D.R., T.W. Sherry. 2006. Food supply controls physical condition of a long distance migrant bird wintering in the tropics. Oecologia 149: 22-32. 8) Johnson, M.D., T.W. Sherry, R.T. Holmes, and P.P. Marra. 2006. Assessing habitat quality for a migratory songbird wintering in natural and agricultural habitats. Conservation Biology 20: 1433-1444. 9) Studds C., K. Kyser and P.P. Marra. 2008. Natal Dispersal Driven by Environmental Conditions Interacting Across the Annual Cycle of a Migratory Songbird. 2008. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105: 2929-2933. 10) Studds C. and P.P. Marra. 2007. Linking fluctuations in rainfall to non-breeding season performance in a long-distance migratory bird. Climate Research 35:115–122
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