More Belize Birding News
“In terms on residence species, there are incredible species here in Belize. You have the Harpy Eagle, you have Scarlet Macaws, and you have all kinds of incredible resident species that are here year round in Belize. Then Belize and much of Central America and southern Mexico are a part of that huge air-bridge that connects all of the migratory species between the North America and South America and so during the winter months you see a tremendous level of species here.” -John Beavers, Executive Director of the International Alliance Programme
By happy coincidence, just after posting the recent Birds Of Belize Blog (Birding in Belize – Six of the Best Spots 17 June 2014), we’ve received reports of a new International Development Bank program to train and certify Belizean tour guides in the highly specialised field of birding.
Funded by the IDB and delivered by the Belize Audubon Society, the USD$ 2.6 million project budget will be shared by Belize, Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay.
Speaking at the project launch at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, Amanda Burgos, Belize Audubon Society’s Executive Director said that the Belizean funds are earmarked for introducing birding as a specialized field of study for tour guides.
“We have very good birding tour guides. What this does in their cases is that they will then be certified and for new tour guides it’s an opportunity because there will be a course in essence offered through the BTB to get a specialisation,” Ms Burgos said.
Chaa Creek guides have been fortunate that since the Birds Without Borders project we mentioned in the blog, there has been ongoing, specialised support for Chaa Creek guides to increase their knowledge of the almost overwhelming number of resident and migratory birds here.
Just to refresh your memory, and for those who haven’t seen the previous blog, Birds Without Borders, conducted in partnership with Chaa Creek, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, recorded 308 different species within Chaa Creek’s 365 acre private nature reserve alone, representing a smorgasbord of opportunities for birders and our guides.
When you consider that Belize, sitting within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, is home to some 618 resident species and visiting migrants, you get an idea of what a huge field of study birds represent.
And where else can you go birding in lush rainforests amidst ancient Maya temples and ancient cities?
So the IDB project is great news for all Belizean guides looking to expand their knowledge of Belize’s birds, and ensure that standards of professionalism and accuracy are maintained.
Another positive aspect is that, with the Audubon Society’s involvement in the project, Belize’s reputation as a top birding spot will be highlighted globally.
As Anneke Jessen, the IDB country representative in Belize said,”With this project we are trying to do two things; we are basically strengthening the capacity of local communities to attract tourists and to offer the services that tourists want when they come to watch birds and on the other hand we are trying to, with national Audubon support, to bring the market to Belize and other destinations through their magazines, through their big membership they have ways of attracting tourists to the country.”
Music to our ears indeed. For years Chaa Creek’s Belize Natural History Centre and naturalist guides have realised the potential for birding in Belize as well as the need to ensure that guides conducting birding excursions and tours are highly trained and knowledgeable in this very exacting field. And now, with the IDB funding, the future looks bright indeed for Belize birding.
So if you’ve ever thought of taking up this healthy and rewarding pastime, now may be a good time to dust off the binoculars, get a birding book, and join the growing number of people who are discovering birding in paradise.
We’re betting you’ll be glad you did.