Belize’s Bird Watching Tradition Has Extremely Deep Roots
The sport/hobby of bird watching has roots in the British Isles where the tradition of observing and recording birds has been around for so many centuries, even Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” play includes this complaint: “She laments sir… her husband goes this morning a-birding.”
So was Belize’s history as the former UK colony known as British Honduras the sole reason this nation has become a mecca for those fascinated with all things avian? Hardly. Belize’s geographic proximity to jungles, rivers, rain forests, lagoons and shoreline—plus natural flyways that existed long before the hemisphere was inhabited–simply provide everything birds require to thrive…
…and thrive, they do! The ongoing debate about how many bird species have been identified in Belize has been known to launch some fascinating conversations. Some authorities say more than 683 species have been identified in Belize, but the nation’s Audubon Society claims the number is closer to 587. Stick around long enough and you can make your own estimate!
Bird species, it seems, are as fickle as are humans. Some stick around Belize year ‘round. Others emulate tourists that flock here: they come and go with the wind. But all species of the birds frequenting Belize are offered a wide variety of natural habitats that include coastal plains, tropical forests, wetlands, savannahs and cayes.
What birding objective are you seeking to achieve by coming to Belize? Are you looking to do research, update your journal or photograph birds? Most bird-loving travelers want to do all of these, though if you are interested in seeing specific Belize species, you can maximize your time by choosing areas they frequent.
Travel to Belize’s west regions and stay in San Ignacio or the Mountain Pine Ridge to spot rare Orange-breasted falcons, Stygian Owls and Keel-billed Motmot. Specify Toledo’s Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary, a 6,000-acre park that’s the site of three lagoons that serve as breeding grounds for Boat-Billed Herons, five types of kingfisher and Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.
The Rio Bravo Conservation Area consists of 250,000 acres of land that nurtures flocks of keel billed toucans amid hundreds of other species, or spend the majority of your time at Stann Creek’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve. The sheer variety of bird types flocking to this reserve is amazing and includes Scarlet Macaws. Photograph this colorful bird feeding on Annatto shrub and you’ll bring home calendar-worthy images.
Where to stay while enjoying your bliss-filled birding adventure? Frequent visitors to Chabil Mar highly recommend making this resort your hub. Staff is delighted to make recommendations to those who want to see certain birds, but if you’ve no preferences, peruse this Belize bird list, http://www.birdlist.org/belize.htm, to see what species interest you most.
On the other hand, if you seek relaxation and stimulation, Chabil Mar’s birding package takes the guess work out of your experience so you spend all of your time gazing into binoculars rather than worrying about logistics. It’s the best way we know to immerse yourself in Belize’s avian wildlife without lifting a finger.