Belize’s Bountiful Birds Showcased in latest Audubon Magazine
There is no doubt that Belize is a birder’s paradise, according to the owners of The Lodge at Chaa Creek, who have been sponsoring professional, scientific and amateur bird watching for over three decades. And now the latest edition of Audubon Magazine not only confirms this but highlights it to an audience far beyond the Belize eco resort’s usual reach, they said.
Chaa Creek co-owner and GM Lucy Fleming said that she was “overwhelmed and delighted” by the depth and detail of the November-December 2013 edition of Audubon Magazine’s online edition’s feature, “Beautiful and Bird-Filled Belize”.
“Birding is one of our key activities and we’ve sponsored a great deal of avian research over the last thirty years, so to see an authority such as Audubon Magazine feature the bids of Belize, and in such an in-depth and beautiful manner is very exciting.
“As anyone involved in conservation knows, knowledge is power when it comes to protecting the environment and various species, and the November-December 2013 edition of Audubon Magazine raised awareness of Belize’s avian treasures in a way we could never hope to.
“This translates to more protection for the birds and their habitats, and for that we are truly grateful,” Ms Fleming said.
The Audubon article, “Beautiful and Bird-Filled Belize”, has author Mel White take the reader on a four page journey of discovery through Belize’s diverse eco systems to experience firsthand the abundance and diversity of many bird species who call this tiny central American nation home or a convenient stopping off point on their migratory passages.
“What Mr White does so wonderfully is convey the beauty and sheer abundance of Belize’s bird population, both local and migratory. Here at Chaa Cheek we’ve sponsored the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation’s ‘Birds without Borders’ program, which has recorded over 308 species of birds right here, and I’ve seen my share of birds, but this article rekindled my excitement by the first page.
“I can only imagine the effect it has on readers who have never been to Belize,” Ms Fleming said.
Mr White, whose credits run from Audubon, National Geographic, Outside and other nature based publications obviously shared the excitement and was unstinting in his praise of Belize as a birder’s paradise. For example, on one occasion he writes;
“I’m not going to say that the next half-hour comprises my biggest thrill in four decades of birding in nearly 40 countries…. All I can say is that seeing this orange-breasted falcon so near, in this setting, ranks in my top few birding experiences.” He wrote.
Ms Fleming said that transmitting that sort of enthusiasm is important, but the emphasis on the need for conservation and careful habitat management is where the true value lies in such articles.
She said that in one section Mr White points out how intrigued he was in seeing familiar North American birds, who, having migrated to Belize are feeding side by side with exotic tropical species.
“This juxtaposition of North and Central American avifauna seems a little odd at first, then delightful, and finally instructive. “Our” birds need habitat year-round, not just when nesting. Belize is in many ways a model of conservation, yet it’s losing about two percent of its forest cover annually to expanding agriculture and the growth of towns and cities. Habitat degradation throughout Central and South America is already having an impact on North American migrants, and the trend is worsening, which makes a sustainable travel industry such an important alternative.”
This, Ms Fleming said, is the crux of the problem. “Mel White hit the nail right on the head, and explains so succinctly why sustainable tourism and responsible travel is so important to Belize. Here at Chaa Creek and our Belize Natural History Centre we may sound like broken records in the need to foster eco-tourism as opposed to some of the other mass tourism schemes being proposed.
“If we act now, and in concert with government and private industry, we can protect what such as august authority as Audubon finds so fascinating about Belize.
“But the key is awareness followed by action. And again, this is why articles of this nature by such popular, well respected authorities as Mel White in respected publications like Audubon Magazine are so important.
“It goes beyond advertising,” Ms Fleming said, “It’s about the survival of a natural heritage that belongs to us all,” she added.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an award winning eco resort set within a 365 acre private nature reserve in Belize.
The article found in the Audubon magazine: