Belize is a small Central American country with mountains, jungles, 450 cays and islands, and the Caribbean reef. This variety of geographical features creates numerous natural habitats, making it a bonanza for birders. See topography map at the end.
Located on the Mesoamerican biological corridor, the land bridge between South and North America, Belize boasts 600 bird species. To lend perspective: Belize is roughly the size of Wales or New Jersey, and has nearly as many bird species as all of Canada.
More about Belize.
At this time of year, many North American travelers head south to escape the winter temperatures. All of the photos here are from February a few years ago. Let’s start on the coast and travel inland.
The Caribbean coast on the eastern side offers white sand beaches and turquoise waters. It is the second-longest reef in the world. Here you can enjoy birds, beaches, boat rides, snorkeling, or diving, and let the sun melt your bones. There are shorebirds, ducks, seabirds, waders, and more.
Almost half of Belize is comprised of protected land and marine areas. Traveling westward, we encountered many wild preserves and especially enjoyed Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.
We came upon the national bird, the Keel-billed Toucan, and hundreds of species of songbirds and other woodland and jungle birds.
Advancing into the mountains we found many raptor species, using the ridge thermals.
The orange-breasted falcon, below, is listed as “near-threatened” on the conservation status list. We spent many hours waiting on Mountain Pine Ridge, hoping to see this rare bird..and were rewarded. Read the post here.
And no matter what part of this lush country you visit, there are always hummingbirds quietly tapping into the tropical flora.
Add in the terrestrial iguanas, lizards, monkeys and other land mammals; and the reef teeming with sea life, and you have found yourself in paradise.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander–all photos taken in the wild in Belize.