With around 590 bird species, it is safe to say Belize is a paradise for birdwatchers. Even regular folks who don’t have much interest in bird watching are drawn to this recreational activity when in Belize because of how easy it is to see them here. Most of the birds of Belize are local inhabitants and about 20 percent are migrants who choose to vacation in Belize during the harsh winter months in North America.
With almost half of Belize being made up of protected areas, it doesn’t matter if you are in the coast, Cayes or inland, you will encounter numerous flying creatures. At most Jungle lodges it is easy to spot birds in the morning and they also usually offer excellent birding tours. Another option is waking up early and going to Mayan sites – the ruckus of the rainforest is absolutely amazing.
Below are a few photos of some of the most beautiful birds you can see in the wild:
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Bare-throated Tiger Heron
Caspian Tern and Gull-billed Tern
Gray-necked Wood Rail and Limpkin
Great Black Hawk
Great Blue Heron
The above photo was taken in the wild. It’s at The Belize Zoo.
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Thick-billed Seed Finch
Wood Stork and Snowy Egret
If you made it to the end of this post, it means that you’re really into birdwatching and will be interested in knowing where to go birding in Belize. Below are 8 great places the Belize Audubon Society recommends:
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
While visitors rarely see a jaguar, the many ecosystems of Cockscomb support a rich and varied bird fauna – forest species, pine woodland and savanna species, species restricted to riverine areas, and birds associated with higher elevations.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
In 1998, this protected area was declared Belize’s first Ramsar site based on the wetland’s international significance for many migratory and non-migratory wetland bird species. Large numbers of wading birds flock into the lagoons during Belize’s dry season (February through May) when food is hard to find in other places.
Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary
These wetlands in the Toledo District attract a number of very visible birds forming the principal attraction for visitors. Aguacaliente protects important breeding colonies for the Wood Stork and Boat-billed Heron. There are a few birds in Toledo District that can’t be found elsewhere in the Belize
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Raptors cruise the valleys of the Pine Ridge and it is the most likely place in Belize to see the rare Orange-breasted Falcon.
Ambergis Caye and Caye Caulker
Of all the habitats in Belize, the littoral forest on the Cayes is the most endangered due to development. Caye littoral forests benefit the Black Catbird and White-crowned Pigeon, both are listed as Near-Threatened species. The Mangrove habitat also attracts many other birds.
Caracol Archaeological Reserve
Caracol is one of the last outposts where the Keel-billed Motmot, a globally vulnerable species is relatively common. Other notable birds seen at Caracol include Ocellated Turkey, Crested Guan, and Great Curassow. While admiring the largest Maya site in Belize you may also see colorful toucans and trogons.
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
Declared a crown reserve bird sanctuary in 1928, the Red-footed Booby colony of Half Moon Caye is the oldest site for wildlife protection in Belize. Half Moon Caye’s population, an estimated 4,000 birds, is made up almost entirely of white morphs with black on the trailing edge of the wings.
Red Bank Village
The unmistakable Scarlet Macaw flocks to the small Maya Village of Red Bank in South Stann Creek seasonally. As many as 100 birds gather near the village, primarily from January to March, to feed on the sweet, ripe fruits of the annato trees.
There are many other birds that I couldn’t feature here since I don’t have the photographs. Let me know if I listed any of your favourites and if you have a photo of a bird I should add, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
All pictures were taken in Belize by Joe Schelling.