Belize, for such a small country supports a remarkable variety of tropical habitats. This translates into an astonishing diversity of birds with almost 600 species inhabiting tropical forests, savannahs, cayes, wetlands and coastal plains. In Belize it’s common to see keel-billed toucans, collared aracari, oropendolas, snowy egrets, frigates, blue-crowned motmots and trogons and it’s not unlikely to see rare or uncommon species like harpy eagles, jabiru storks, king vultures and the yellow head amazon parrot.
There is great birding throughout Belize, however we wanted to highlight our favourite five birding hotspots, where you can view as many species as possible:
1. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best birding destinations in Belize. The sanctuary was established in 1984 by the Belize Audubon Society and is comprised of 16,400 acres of lagoons, creeks, swamps, broadleaf forest and pine savanna. This is a great place to see bird species such as the Heron, Muscovy duck and the Jabiru stork — the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere. This endangered stork arrives in November to nest in the lowland pine savannas.
Make sure you check out this great photo blog showing a birding adventure at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. The photos in the blog were taken by guest, Bob Belshe who stayed at the Bird's Eye View Lodge at Crooked Tree on our Lighthouse Reef Adventure trip.
Boat billed heron at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. PC Bob Belshe
2. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
You can experience a rare colony of red-footed boobies at our Half Moon Caye Basecamp on Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the only breeding ground in the western Caribbean. The red-footed boobies can be found nesting in the orange-flowered Ziricote thicket in the western end of the Half Moon Caye. Sharing the area with frigate birds, the squawking and screeching can be quite the noisy experience, but the parenting birds are so busy with their young, they hardly notice it when people get up close. The red-footed booby birds live on the caye starting from mid-December and leave in August, with about 4000 breeding birds calling the caye home during this time. The chicks hatch in March, then a few months are spent growing and then it’s time to take care of themselves, feeding on fish and flying about enjoying the beauty of Belize.
A red-footed booby at Half Moon Caye
3. Mayflower Bocawina National Park
On the grounds of the Bocawina Rainforest Resort and throughout the Mayflower Bocawina National Park you can see and hear dozens of different species of birds. If you are an avid birder, April is a great time to visit Belize. The Belize Bird Conservancy has their 5th Annual Lodge Bird-a-thon April 1- April 30, 2017 where you can experience some of the best birding in Central America. Last year, Bocawina Rainforest Resort participants managed to identify 202 species breaking the previous record by 11 new species. Some of the rare sightings included band-tailed barbthroat, northern shoveler, scarlet tanager and the spectacled owl.
Birding in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park
4. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is operated by the Belize Audubon Society. It is recognized internationally as the world’s first jaguar preserve and is known for its spectacular waterfalls, nature trails, and rich diversity of neotropical birds. This is a perfect place for a bird watching adventure and you may have the rare experience of spotting some of the big cats of Belize. Some of the birds you can expect to see here are the the emerald toucanet, keel-billed toucan, king vulture and scarlet macaw.
5. Sittee River
A guided boat tour on the Sittee River is a great option and location for birdwatching in Belize. Bird watchers will be thrilled by the variety of airborne wildlife like flycatchers, egrets, kingfisher, toucans, parrots and herons. Large marine and freshwater crocodiles inhabit the banks and waters of the river and sightings are very common. Iguanas can be seen sunbathing on the branches of trees hanging over the river.
Check out our video on birdwatching at Bocawina, Cockscomb and Sittee River, Belize
If you go:
The Maya Reef Explorer trip takes in a variety of excellent wildlife and bird habitats combining three days exploring the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and Mayan ruins; including five days at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, a remote tropical marine park and UNESCO world heritage site, fifty-five miles off the Belize Mainland. This trip is available from December to April.
The Maya World Extension is a three day inland adventure to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, home to some of the best birding and wildlife viewing in Belize. You will explore Spanish Creek, Revenge Lagoon and the surrounding wetlands where you can see many birds including northern jacanas, white ibis, wood storks and the huge jabiru stork. This trip is available year-round.
The Rainforest Canopy Adventure is a three day trip that is ideal for those wanting to experience the essence of the untouched, tropical rainforest of the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. You can choose from a range of fully guided adventure experiences such as an exhilarating hiking expedition to Antelope Falls or a cultural/birding/wildlife excursion to the
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and some of the local villages. This trip is available year-round.