Birds of Belize – Meet 20 Cool Species!
Birding is described as a hobby in which individuals enjoy the challenge of bird study, identification, listing or any other activity revolving around bird life. Documented as a hobby that rose in popularity after world war II, birding has been a pastime for those enthralled by our avian friends for a very long time.
In Belize, birding can be a very fulfilling hobby, since, as a whole, the small country boasts over 500 species of tropical birds and this number only grows when considering migrant species that make their way through here as the seasons change.
BONUS: To see live spotting, check out the eBird directory on Belize
Check out 20 of our favorite species (in no particular order) that make Belize Birding a thrilling experience!
Special thanks to Sarah and the Belize Raptor Center for helping to make this list as cool as it could be! Sarah and her team do awesome work with educating Belizeans about the importance of our avian friends and why preserving their habitats are of utmost importance!
1 Inca Dove
This urban bird is not geographically unique by any means, but they make this list because Birders have spotted them in Belize, and that itself is rare. Pretty little things, aren’t they?
2 Orange Breasted Falcon
Orange Breasted Falcons like only the most wooded areas. Belize has a lot of that, even bordering populated areas, making chance sightings of this predatory bird are even greater.
3 Black Hawk-Eagle
Referred to as the tyrant hawk eagle, – anyone knows why? – this raptor is rare, even by predator standards. They like woods just as any other bird of this kind, only the most patient – or perhaps luckiest birders will document this one.
4 Lovely Cotinga
The Lovely Cotinga is the first bird of paradise to grace our list. What’s cool about this bird? Other than their plumage – well, we don’t need to tell a tragic story, their numbers are healthy and they’re unique to this region. Double awesome!
5 Fulvous Whistling Duck
This Duck is a tropical species, they name matches their call and they should be kept away from rice fields. These sweet creatures breed for life and take turns incubating their eggs, hooray for whistling duck families!
6 Harpy Eagle
The Harpy is the largest and most powerful raptor in the Americas. It’s a neotropical bird who likes to roos in the canopies of tall trees. Unlike our friends the Lovely Cotingas, Harpy Eagles are classified as near threatened as deforestation has left them homeless in much of the region they used to call home.
7 Crested Eagle
The crested eagle, not to be confused with the long crested eagle is yet another neotropical eagle classified as near threatened. It has a vast range extending from Belize to northern Argentina, but even with such a large range they are found sparsely within it, sightings for these are even rarer,
8 Burrowing Owl
The burrowing owl is exactly what it sounds like. This long-legged bird makes it’s home underground much like a prairie dog would. What’s cool about these critters? For one they live underground, not a thing common to birds. Secondly, they look perpetually unimpressed – don’t you think?
9 Great Horned Owl
This raptor was originally known as the Tiger owl by early naturalists. Despite their name they look fearsome and with camouflage like that it’s clear why the great horned owl is an apex predator. Inhabiting practically all of the Americas this beautiful bird is a sure sell if you can find where the hoots are coming from.
10 Great Potoo
The great potoo is the butt if many-a-joke on the internet for it’s admittedly creepy appearance. The great potoo is a master of camouflage; very hard to spot in daytime because they are so well camouflaged against the trunks or branches of trees that they just blend in. It’s also a nocturnal insect eater. This bird is made even eerier by its soulful moans at the moon which sets a macabre tone on a tropical night.
11 Central American Pygmy Owl
There seems to be a trend with people… We find small things cute, think about it, babies, puppies, bear cubs… Pygmy Owls. Possibly one of the smallest birds in the owl family, they have unique plumage which makes them look like a small bramble on a tree.
12 Scarlet Macaw
One of the most spectacular birds of paradise is the scarlet macaw. Their Long dazzling plumage makes them a spectacle to see perched but even more so in the air. These avian carnivals are healthy in number in lower parts of South America, but Belize is your best bet for abundant sightings that aren’t halfway around the world.
13 Spotted Rail
The Spotted rail is yet another one of our grown treading friends in the bird world. Rails make their home in swampy areas, of which Belize has few that are easily accessible. Finding these little guys will take a bit of adventure, but what’s the fun if you don’t have to trek a bit?
14 Yellow-Headed Parrot
Also known as the Yellow-Headed Amazon, these stocky tropical birds are considered endangered. Natives of these parts used to eat these pretty things, as well as other birds of paradise some time ago. Now, they’re favored as pets as they’re excellent talkers, or mimics. Keeping them in captivity is as well illegal, the sale of these birds should never be encouraged. Spotting one in the wild is a real treat and needs to be appreciated as we may not have any of these left in a few years.
15 White Crowned Pigeon
“Pigeons?! Come on Belize travel blog I can see pigeons on my way to work” Yeah, okay – well not these guys. Native almost exclusively to the north-western Caribbean, these pigeons are considered a vulnerable species and breed in much lower numbers than the common rock pigeon. They won’t be found much in urban areas as the like the coast.
16 Yellow-Breasted Crake
Another Swamp dweller, this bird is found in Central America and the Caribbean the Yellow-Breasted Crake is a pretty graceful sight.
17 Crested Cara Cara
The Crested Cara Cara although not carrying it in its name, is a falcon. With a huge range spanning from coastal Mexico to northern Brazil, including Belize, this uniquely colored and plumed hawk is certainly something, you need to see.
18 Pheasant Cuckoo
The Pheasant Cuckoo is another camo-bird. They’re insectivorous and prefer to live in evergreen or deciduous forest, Belize Basically. They have a pretty distinct call that makes them easy to identify and some unique white plumage that will help you see them through the brush
19 Stygian Owl
Stygian, relating to the river Styx, where souls must cross after death is the name for our penultimate entry. This owl, just as its name is an imposing sight – to say the least. There’s something enthralling about dangerous beauty, a thing that exudes from the Stygian Owl.
20 Red Tailed Hawk
Hawks and eagles seem to universally have interesting plumage on their heads. This raptor has a decidedly tame looking hair-do in comparison to some of the other hawks in this category. These hawks are classified as least concern as far as conservation goes – so, what’s so cool about them? They can acclimate themselves to any biome within their range, and given their massive range it means red-tailed hawks can adjust to snow-capped mountains, deserts, swamps, pine forest and that is truly impressive.
Are any of these your favorite bird? Or did we miss it, let us know in the comments!
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