Birding in Belize

Bird Watching in Belize

Belize is blessed with more than 500 species of birds, 80 percent of which are residents. Compare this number to the 650 species found in all of North America and Mexico and you will agree, "Belize is a bird watcher's paradise". With the types of birds to be found dependent upon the type of natural habitat you are in, experienced Ornithologists as well as beginners will find birding throughout Belize a rewarding experience. Whether on a remote island, on a jungle walk or in the backyard of your hotel you are bound to encounter spectacular plumage, stirring calls or the steady drumming of a hummingbird's wings.

Common species of birds can be found in the following areas of Belize.

  • Coastal Areas and Islands: Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigate birds, Laughing Gulls, Osprey, Seagulls, Ruddy Terns, Brown Boobies and on Belize's first national park, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument - the rare Red-Footed Booby.
  • Wetlands: Roseate spoonbills, great egrets, green, blue, the not so common boat-billed and agami herons, northern jacana, and the endangered Jabiru Stork at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Grasslands and Savannahs
  • Broad Leaf Forests

Less common species, such as the are the harpy eagle. scarlet macaw, agami heron can be also be found, as well as the more colorful species: keel-billed toucan; emerald toucanet, blue-crowned mot mot; scarlet-rumped tanager.

The best time for birding is usually outside the hottest part of the day, making early morning and late evening ideal times. However, there are many sightings under the canopy on jungle walks even during the day. This makes birding a likely event on almost any tour that you take. However, if you have a strong interest in birding be sure to let your tour provider know well in advance so that you have a knowledgeable birding guide and your tour times are set for optimum timing (e.g. a pre-dawn departure for a tour or walk) .

The day to day activities of birds as well as their annual cycles provide great opportunities to see birds at their best:

  • Bird Feeding. Catch birds feeding either in the early morning, evening or at night depending on the species.
  • Bird Grooming. Sit back and watch birds oil their wings which needs to be groomed in order to avoid prey in flight and keep warm.
  • Bird Communication. Listen and watch various species as they send out a warning call to the colony or the mating dance of males in attracting females.
  • Bird Mating. Most birds breed and raise their young at the end of the dry season in April to July. This period provides great opportunities to watch mating rituals, nest building, rearing of young or survival training for chicks.
  • Bird Migration. The yearly migration of North American birds escaping winter in December is a good opportunity to complete your checklist or view migrant species.

It is a good idea to carry your guide on North American Birds as well as Mexico and Central America as the plumage on many of the birds you may be accustomed to at home will be different while they are on their "winter holiday" in the tropics.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1981 protects much of Belize's birds who make their home throughout the country as well as in the assortment of parks and protected areas designated under the National Parks System Act of 1982. These national parks, private reserves, forest and nature reserves marked as protected habitats for birds, plants and other wildlife, make for excellent birding areas.

Birding locations in Belize

  • Aguacate Lagoon
  • Blue hole National Park
  • Cockscomb Basin
  • El Pilar
  • Five Blue Lakes
  • Guanacaste
  • Mountain Pine Ridge
  • Red Bank
  • Tapir Mountain
  • The Chiquibil Forest
  • The Macal River