BirdLife Jamaica started as Gosse Bird Club in the mid-1950s through the personal enthusiasm of a few dedicated bird watchers, who came together, to discuss their observations and findings - such were the origins of the Club.
In 1963 many of the original persons decided to record the observations made, and so the Broadsheet came into being. This semi-annual has been published without interruption since then, providing a wealth of information on the endemic birds of Jamaica, and on other resident and migratory birds. In 1989 the Club was formally constituted with an inaugural annual meeting held on November 15.
On July 15, 1998, Gosse Bird Club became BirdLife Jamaica. This change signifies a developmental leap to meet the future. The name change marks the culmination of a series of events which have taken place over a number of years, and it embodies the organization's flight to become an increasingly recognized beacon for the conservation of Jamaica's native bird life. The change also produces an obvious alliance with **BirdLife International**, one of the oldest environmental group in the world, and one with great influence at regional and international levels with respect to bird conservation. BirdLife Jamaica is the partner-designate of BirdLife International.
From its inception to the present, the now BirdLife Jamaica has been and still is the only local group which has studied and gathered information on birds, or lobbied specifically for conservation of the birds of Jamaica and their habitats.
The Club undertakes and encourages observations and the study of bird-life in Jamaica, especially endemic species and subspecies. The programme of activities of the Club encompasses (a) field-trips for members and other interested persons; (b) educational programmes such as distribution of the Club's publication Teachers' Guide to the Birds of Jamaica, as well as slide and sound shows and talks to schools and other groups; and (c) research projects. The Club works closely with the University of the West Indies to stimulate young ornithologists, and co-operation with visiting ornithologists and researchers is warmly encouraged.
Research Projects include an inventory of the birds of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park; the on-going study of the biology and distribution of the two endemic parrots, Amazona collaria and Amazona agilis in the Cockpit Country in cooperation with the University of the West Indies Dept of Life Sciences at Mona; and collaboration with sport shooting clubs and the government agency in order to gather data for objective decision-making in regards to gamebirds. The banding programme has been in existence since the early 1960s, and compilation of data from these records is being undertaken.
The Club is also building a database of observations and locations of the various bird species, and has published an Index to issues nos. 1-60 of its publication, The Broadsheet.
Through individual efforts of its members, the Club has participated in the International Shorebird Survey, the World Bird Watch, and the NTT World Bird Count .
WHY WAS IT CALLED THE GOSSE BIRD CLUB?
The Club was named after Philip Henry Gosse who was the first person to study the birds of Jamaica systematically. He is called "The Father of Jamaican Ornithology".
Gosse was born in England in 1810, and before he embarked for Jamaica on October 20, 1844 he read intensively in preparation. He stayed at the Bluefields House for one and a half years, and it was in this area that most of his studies of Jamaican birds were done. He returned to England where he published The Birds of Jamaica in 1847, this was followed by the Illustrations of the Birds of Jamaica in 1849, and the Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica appeared in 1851.