Bird Nerds Rejoice: Belize Is a Top Birding Destination
Despite all it offers the world, including birders, Belize is a Central American paradise that somehow falls beneath most people’s notice.
One of the more notable exceptions among these people would be the travel analysts at Forbes magazine. This week, Forbes highlighted Belize as a top birding destination in the world.
In Belize, over 600 different bird species have been recorded and this large variety is due in part to the multiple ecosystems within the country.
“This lush tropical oasis is a haven not only for snowbirds of the human variety but their winged counterparts as well—though most of Belize’s 618 species of birds call the nation home all year-round (only 20% are migrants.) And, frankly, we can’t blame them. For a country roughly the size of New Jersey, Belize boasts a spectacularly diverse range of ecosystems, from the coastal mangroves and wetlands to the interior pine forests that surround the Mayan Mountains,” the article asserted.
Forbes goes on to advise that when birding in Belize, something anyone with an interest in avian creatures should do, most species will find you first, especially if you leave a bag of trail mix open.
If you are interested in birding in Belize, below are seven notable birding sites you need to explore.
- Caracol. These Maya jungle ruins are home to the elusive harpy eagle. Eagle-eyed birders can also find great curassows, crested guans, ocellated turkeys and violaceous trogons.
- Cockscomb Basin Forest Reserve. This site may cater to jaguars but you can also find birds like scarlet macaws, king vultures, and multiple toucan varieties. Notably, Belize’s national animal is a toucan, the keel-billed toucan.
- Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Jabiru storks come here in the dry season. These storks are quite friendly and have no problem if some yellow-lored parrots or Yucatan jays come visiting.
- Half-Moon Caye National Monument. This atoll is where many red-footed boobies flock to nest and lay eggs. The caye is notable for crowding that it can be hard to find safe passage. Half-Moon Caye is a rest stop for many migratory sea birds and atoll-dwelling regulars.
- Shipstern Nature Reserve. This is a 22,000-acre avian reserve that houses 250 different species, though they do not all reside in the same one region. Shipstern’s ecosystem is a mix of tributaries and solid land, meaning birders have multiple ways to spot birds including: on foot, by canoe or even b a flat-bottom boat.
- New River Lagoon. The waters and marshlands are the birding high points of this area, where you can find purple gallinule, black-colored hawks, and northern jacanas. Birding around this spot also brings you in close proximity to the Lamanai Maya ruins so remember to give that site a visit.
- Man-O-War Caye. This fragile nature site is under constant guard by the government if only to ensure that future generations can enjoy its beauty. Bring some binoculars and tour a small boat to circle the island for brown boobies and frigates.
Want to learn more about birding in Belize? Check out our birding page.