Belize Wildlife, Part 1 of 2

Agami Heron

Situated on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize has many geographical features that culminate in a land rich in fauna and flora. Please join me for a two-part wildlife series, visiting this exotic country.


We’ll start with the birds of Belize; and in the second part, next week, we’ll look at all the other wildlife.


There are 603 different bird species in Belize…that’s a lot for a small country of 8,800 square miles (22,800 sq. km.). The large country of Canada, for perspective, has 686 bird species.


Parrots and toucans say “tropical” right from the start.


Mealy Parrot


Keel-billed Toucan, Belize’s national bird


Olive-throated Parakeet


Positioned between South and North America, Belize is part of a corridor called the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. This is a natural land bridge between the two continents, crucial for animal migration. It contains 7-10% of the world’s wildlife species.


Caribbean Sea from Belize boat


In addition, Belize is bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea, offering a plethora of coastal sea life. The Belize Barrier Reef is approximately 190 miles (300 km) long, and is part of a larger reef system yielding hundreds of species of fish, coral, and invertebrates.


Where there are fish, there are fish-hunting birds. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Belize Barrier Reef is a playground for birdwatching and many other water sports and activities.


Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, and more, Belize

Birds found along coastal Belize include the waders, like herons, as well as pelicans, frigatebirds, shorebirds, and many more.


Little Blue Heron


Boat-billed Heron


Some bird species live in Belize year-round, and others migrate here for the winter. This summer tanager below, for example, spends the winter enjoying Belize’s warm weather and a diet of bees and wasps; then flies north in summer to breed in parts of Central and North America.


Summer Tanager, Blue Hole Nat’l Park, Belize


The turquoise waters of the Caribbean are not easy to leave behind, but nonetheless we headed westward to the interior of the country, finding a luxuriant terrestrial habitat, well worth the effort.


Inland lagoons and rivers attract jabiru, kingfishers, raptors, spoonbills…to name just a few.


Jabiru, Belize at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary


Green Kingfisher, Belize


Snail Kite


Roseate Spoonbill


Thirty-seven percent of Belize’s land territory is protected, more than most small countries.


Belize Wikipedia


Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected wetland, one of my favorite places in Belize. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is another protected nature reserve on the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains.


Rufous-tailed jacamar, Belize


Yellow-throated Euphonia eating a banana, Belize


There are also many Mayan ruins in Belize, an additional source of open space and wildlife in jungle environments. Here we saw many species of trogons and songbirds, and bigger woodland birds like oropendulas and guans.


Black-headed Trogon, Belize


Montezuma Oropendola, Belize


Crested Guan


Hummingbirds thrive here. Of the 300-350 hummingbird species in the world, Belize hosts an amazing 26 species (there are about a dozen hummingbird species in the U.S.).


Scaly-breasted Hummingbird


Ascending into the mountains, the habitat and weather change, yielding rare falcon species, hawks, and owls.


Orange-breasted Falcon, Belize


White Hawk, Belize


Mottled Owl, Belize


Join me next week in the second half of this two-part series, celebrating all the other delightful wildlife we came across.


Written by Jet Eliot.

All photos by Athena Alexander, all taken in Belize.

Black-collared Hawk



103 thoughts on “Belize Wildlife, Part 1 of 2

    • So happy you enjoyed the birds of Belize, Sharon. There were so many great photos to choose from, a two-parter helps distribute the wealth. Cheers to you for a great weekend.

  1. Such colour and variety = you were in bird heaven! Thanks for sharing this blast of warmth, and I’m looking forward to part 2. I’m off to check flights to Belize…
    Have a great weekend!

    • You’re right, pc, we were in bird heaven. We spotted hundreds of birds on that trip, I pulled out the most exotic of them for the post. You and Mrs. PC would like Belize a lot. Going birding this weekend…yay. I have the feeling you three will be off to the seaside…have fun!

    • Yes, we don’t often see all-white hawks, so I like that photo too, Jill. And trogons are very special birds. They are often quiet and therefore not so easy to spot. I’m glad you enjoyed the lovely birds of Belize, Jill, thank you so much.

  2. Pingback: Belize Wildlife, Part 1 of 2 — Jet Eliot |

  3. Unbelievable to see all this fantastic birds. Wow. I am sitting here with open mouth. Stunning, my dear Jet, and it comes to such a good time when I have bad news from my ill friend…and your wonderful photos warm my heart. Thank you so much! ❤

    • Thank you K’lee, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos from Belize. Wildlife is abundant and diverse, and beautiful vistas everywhere — yes, a good place to take the camera.

  4. great photographs, Jet! so fun to see these beautiful birds. the summer tanager is afire but of course the agami heron is simply majestic! so rich and lots to offer for such a small country! thanks for sharing. have a great weekend 🙂

    • I liked hearing about your favorite Belize bird photos, Lola. That agami heron shot was pure acrobatics! Our boat had to float next to it in the mangrove roots, while we hid in the bottom of the boat. I’m glad you stopped by, always a treat, thank you.

  5. Belize has always been on my bucket list (I have made it to Guatemala and Mexico) because of the gorgeous turquoise sea and the wildlife (over a 3rd of the country protected is impressive). Your photos are wonderful, A!

  6. This is quite a beautiful gallery of birds from Belize! I hope to visit Belize some day, I have some friends that were there and loved it! Very good post my friend. 🙂

    • Oh you would absolutely love it in Belize, HJ. With your experience in the jungles of South America, you would be a pro at overlooking the buggyness and taking in all the beauties. The key to Belize is to see more than just the coast. The coast is stunning, but many people don’t go westward, and this is easy to do because who wants to leave the balmy Caribbean? Cheers, my friend, always a treat to see you, thank you for your visit.

  7. My goodness Jet you and Athena have found a bird watching smorgasbord! Boat bills and spoon bills and bills of most every variety. I can imagine the joy of being near so many species. Gorgeous captures all.

    • You hit it on the head, Sue, “bills of most every variety.” It was really great, yes, to see so many bird species. There are many plainer birds that are beautiful and interesting too, but for the post I chose the splashier species. Really glad you enjoyed them, and of course, I am always happy to have you visit, thank you.

  8. What a fantastic collection of wonderful birds! Re the stats for birds in Belize or Canada, I suspect the birds do not recognise borders – but having said that, the borders (or rather a country’s administration) do allow us to count and compare and hopefully preserve. Looking forward to the next part of the story 🙂

    • Hi Alastair, so nice to “see” you. Yes, birds do not recognize borders, but countries do many things inside their borders, and what makes Belize special is that they have set aside space for wildlife. Sometimes war and drug cartels and over-farming turn the same beautiful land into an unsavory or dangerous place, where wildlife and humans do not thrive. You’re right, a country’s administration has a lot to do with it. You would like the sounds here in Belize. The howler monkey, featured in next week’s Part 2, is especially memorable. Great to see you today, right now I’m heading over to see what you’ve been up to. Always, many thanks.

  9. Sharing your wide range of experiences, great knowledge, and delightful photos
    brings us every closer to this unique and beautiful country of Belize.
    Looking forward to viewing the second part of this wonderful series.

    • Dear Eddie, I so appreciate your thoughtful comment and kindness. Sometimes we forget about the experience, knowledge and skills we have to share, kind of you to remind me. And how wonderful that I could use mine and Athena’s to share with you and others the marvel that is Belize. I’m looking forward to sharing Part 2 next week. My warmest thanks.

    • I had never seen a white hawk before either, Sylvia. They are ethereal, ghostly, and such a pleasure to see. I’m glad I could share Belize and its wonders with you, thank you.

  10. Wow! Just very simply wow. I love the magnificent colors of so many of these birds. I particularly loved the herons… the colors of the Agami, the little one is so cute, but the name for the boat-billed heron made me laugh out loud. What tremendous variety. I wonder if the entire population of Belize isn’t enthralled with all these marvelous birds.

    • Oh I am so glad you enjoyed this vicarious visit to Belize, Gunta. The herons were a great treat to see there, and we were really fortunate to find the agami heron. We searched for a long time for the agami, via boat, and Athena had to work pretty hard to get that photo, but what a pleasure. The boat-billed heron was a complete joy, glad the name sparked some humor. They, like the agami, are pretty skittish. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and visit, my friend.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Belize bird post, Sheryl. More Belize wildlife, part 2, coming this Friday. I am glad you visited, and I began following your blog today. I really like the concept of hundred-years-ago posts, looking forward to seeing more….

    • Yes, Belize is a country many people don’t know much about. It’s small and rather quiet. So I’m glad I could share the birds with you, Andrea. Always a pleasure to have you stop by, thank you.

  11. Lovely write-up of the birds of Belize. So many species, so many varities all in different colours. Interesting to hear there are Mayan ruins over there. A you said, an additional source of open space for wildlife. Stunning images 🙂

    • I’m delighted you enjoyed the Belize post, Mabel, and photos. The Mayan ruins are a wonderful historical feature of Belize too. Thanks so much for your comment and visit, much appreciated.

  12. Such amazing wildlife Jet! So many species and all so beautiful – I really loved seeing the kingfisher. Have never seen one in the wild (yet). Sorry for not visiting in a while – life suddenly got very busy (we got a puppy….)

    xoxo Inger

    • A complete joy to “see” you back here, Inger. And I’m delighted to have shared the wildlife of Belize with you. I really like that kingfisher photo, too, there’s something quiet and elegant about it. Kingfishers in the wild are always a joy, I imagine you will see one in the wild some day. They frequent waterways and can be found in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia…mostly in the warmer climes. My warmest greetings to you, glad to know you are happy and well.

    • Such a joy to share the stunning birds of Belize with you, Sherry. There were many interesting birds, like antbirds and woodpeckers, too, but I highlighted the most colorful and exotic birds here. Cheers, my birder friend.

    • Thanks, Miguel, I’m glad you liked the Belize birds. Yes, that agami heron was really special. It was not easy to find, and nearly impossible to photograph, but well worth it. Thanks for your visit today.

    • I am delighted you were able to look at both parts of the series, Dina, and really appreciate your visits and comments. Yes, I agree, one bird prettier than the other. Many thanks and cheers to the Fab Four.

  13. There’s so much to enjoy here. I was surprised to see the birds we share with Belize: the roseate spoonbill and the little blue heron. The boat-billed heron reminds me of the shoe-billed stork; have you seen one of those? Here’s a very short little video of ours from the Houston zoo. I’ve been watching the Cornell fruit feeder in Panama, and I’m sure a few you have here also come to their feeder. Tropical birds are so colorful — thank for sharing these!

    • So glad you enjoyed both parts of the Belize series, Linda, thank you for taking such an interest. Yes, the boat-billed heron is reminiscent of the shoebill. I once had a chance to go out in the wild, in Africa, to maybe see one shoebill, but the cost for that extra leg of the trip for one bird was not justifiable. They’re conservation status is now Vulnerable, so seeing in the wild is almost impossible. So it was nice to see the shoebill in your zoo video, especially when the gamekeeper communicated to the one to come get the fish. Many thanks for your visits.

  14. Good morning Jet. I so enjoyed this post. As you are aware I have an open invitation to go to to paint hummingbirds and much more. Time of course is key here, although I do hope to get there sometime in the not too distant future. What an amazingly rich and diverse place Belize is…..
    Thank you so much. Janet

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