Monday, March 22, 2010

Birding in Belize

There are tons of birds in amazing Belize. I like birds because; I just like birds even from when I was a baby. I like to watch them and draw then which makes me very happy. I have seen over a 120 species since we have been here in December. Most of them are new to me. They are very very colorful and look exotic. I would like to tell you about each bird I saw but instead I will tell you about the most interesting. We went to different habitats in search of birds such at Mayan temples, lakes, wetlands, rivers, islands and the amazing fig tree.

Pyramids sites are usually in rain forested areas and have many cleared spaces surrounding the pyramids and temples. The birds like these spaces. At Caracol, we saw Oscillated Turkeys which are one of the prettiest birds in Belize. Their feathers are iridescent and shine like copper and other colors. We also saw one of the most amazing vultures. It is the King Vulture. It has interesting head gear and is huge. We saw Keel Billed Toucans which have a large brightly colored bill which is often seen on items such as cereal box labels. This toucan is also the national bird of Belize. There was another pyramid site called Laminai with has lots of birds. There were trogons , which are the size as a crow but with a yellow bill and it has a lot of iridescence feathers especially on its stomach with a blue color sheen and yellow or black eye rings.

Lamanai is on the New River and we had to take a boat to get there. There were herons on the river such as the boat billed and Yellow Crow Night Herons. We saw a Yucatan Poorwhill which is not very common in that area. We saw a limpkin which is a bird where scientists can’t figure out which family to put it in so they made a new one just for this bird. We saw a small colorful bird called a Jacana which is also known as the Jesus Christ bird since it has very large feet which enable it to walk on lily pads and other aquatic plants. Imagine you could do that too. There is also another interesting bird species called the snail kite which only eats apple snails which is a large freshwater snail. It has a special shaped bill to gets into snail shells without cracking the shell. We spotted a common black hawk which also looks a lot like the snail kite except it has a yellow bill.

We had other guided trips to Spanish Lookout and Crooked Tree. These are both wetland sites and the name wetland suits this habitat perfectly because the beaches are mushy muck which I found out was not a good place to walk. At Spanish Lookout we saw a Jabiru Stork nest but not birds were home. The Jabiru could be called the Jumbo-ru because it is one of the biggest birds in the Americas. We looked at a laughing falcon through the spotting scope but it wasn’t very funny. We saw grove billed anis which looks like a grackle with the bill of a puffin. Then there were scissor tail flycatchers and this was the first place we saw the Vermillion Flycatcher which is a beautiful shade of red.

Back at the lodge there was a fig tree which was the most birdee-ist tree that I ever did see. We went there first thing in the morning and we saw Chacahlacas, Summer Tanagers, trogons, Great Kiskadees, and Aracasis which are a small type of toucan. At times there seemed to be more birds on the tree than leaves. The sound was a noisy concoction of calls and songs. And I have to add that the parrots sounded the worse. That’s the story of the magical fig tree.

Our next birding trip was to the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. We saw thousands of Wood Storks and we canoed real close to them. Mixed in with them was a jumbo Jabiru Stork. The Jabiru has a rufus collar and was much larger than the other storks. We spotted Roseate Spoonbills which are pink birds with a spoon shaped bill. There was a Black Collared Hawk which should be called the Rufus Winged Hawk. It was fun to watch the pygmy kingfisher feed and take its food back to a tree for lunch. It was really neat and is one of my favorite birding places. That’s all for now on the Nudibranch Network.


PS if you want to see video of a singing Summer Tanager or Wood Storks of Crooked Tree then click on the play buttons


  1. Dear Sophie, I loved reading your descriptions of the different birds, and liked your drawing. The videos really captured the look and sounds of those birds. When you write your essays, be sure to double-check for grammar, as some of it was a little confusing until I realized what you meant to write. Wetlands (you're right - a perfect name) are so important for birds, fish, and amphibians .... and mosquitos, no? They hold so much life! Keep up the good work -

  2. Sophia, I certainly enjoyed birdwatching with you last week. Your observation skills are top notch and your memory is even better!! Thank you for your help identifying the Yucatan Vireo, I will include its photo when I post my trip report.
    Is the Great Kiskadee at Blackbird Caye?
    I hope that you are having a great week learning to dive.
    Please say hi to your Mom & Dad for us.
    Cheryl & Aubrey

  3. Gracious! Each week holds a lifetime of adventure! What fun you must have doing something different almost every day. We have returned from having been away for over a week, and guess what greeted us? A heron flew right into the back yard and landed on a fir tree! Also there are evening grosbeak birds, and also the flickers which appear orange when they fly, and barn and brown swallows. I'm glad it is Spring again. So many birds are returning. At the Bronx zoo last week we saw some unusual pheasant, unlike the kind we normally see. We also saw zebras, but you could have guessed that! Have an interesting week. We're thinking of you. --Elizabeth Adams