Birding on Ambergris Caye For Dummies: Migration is Coming

Birds.  You wake up to their screaming (I mean singing.  Charming chatter) and notice them staring at you from the trees but what are they really up to?

I honestly never gave it a moment’s thought until I moved to Belize.  But with age and living in one of the most beautiful natural spots in the world, I’ve not only noticed them…but I bought books…and got binoculars for my 45th birthday and took a 3 day course in birding.

Well…let’s be honest.  I only made it thru 1 and a half days.

But Belize is FILLED with amazing gorgeous shocking-they-even-exist birds.  Like the harpy eagle…

(RARE in the wild, these birds, with talons so big that they feed on baby dear and monkeys, can best be seen at the beautiful Belize Zoo.  See here:  What Do You Get a Harpy Eagle for His Birthday?)

You can spot a much smaller version on the Belikin Stout label.

And you can also read about who would win a fight:  Bald eagle vs Harpy Eagle because…well…you can read about just about everything.

and the toucan – they are everywhere in the Cayo district of Belize.

And even on Ambergris Caye, we get some spectacular birds.  Dramatic looking.  Dramatic acting.  Some just certain times of year. Some are full time residents.

So even if the word BIRDING makes you uncomfortable…(And you group it with activities like knitting or suduko-ing or going to bingo – decidedly NOT COOL)

…I’m going to put together a few “trading cards”.  Both for you and for me.  So we can all get used to some of the showstoppers and the humdrum every day birds.

I’ll start with one of those.

Here are some pictures and fun tidbits about a few of the birds here.  We are entering the WINTER MIGRATION season.  When so many species fly south and Belize is literally bursting with birds.

First two of the sea birds.

Magnificent Frigate

You will always see the brown pelican – often along with the frigate, waiting for fishermen’s scraps.

I had no idea how long this would get – so I will put out two more birds that I have seen this week.  Both are make me pull over the golf cart to take pictures.  They are THAT special.

Both are here – or headed farther south – for the winter.

And this one.  This small flock of “Belizean flamingos” caused a bit of a traffic jam last week as they were feeding in the flooded roadsides.

There are not too many naturally pink creatures in nature – some pigs, pink dolphins, the blob fish – so it’s a treat to have one living in my neighborhood.

Here is a whole crew of birds wading at Cayo Frances Farm & Fly.  The roseate spoonbill is easy to pick out.  The curve beak white waders are ibis.

Interesting to me:  The roseate spoonbill was hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century for his feathers.

And I hear you asking…are there flamingos in Belize?  The short answer, no.  Even though there are areas with huge winter flocks a few hundred miles to our north – see Celustun just outside of Merida, Mexico – a flamingo in Belize wouldn’t be impossible but he’d be woefully off course.

For anyone who found ANY of this the least bit interesting, let me suggest to you the Merlin App for your phone.  It’s free, it’s from Cornell University Ornithology group and can ID any bird by photo or, if you can describe some of its features or behaviors like:

Is it swimming or wading?  Is it larger or smaller than a chicken?

They use your location and help you identify birds.  It’s AMAZING.

Also get the book Birds of Belize.  It’s heavy but the pictures are beautiful and the number of birds in this country, amazing.

Until next time birders!






Be the first to get the Scoop AND receive my weekly newsletter...

  • Mike Romano

    I love watching the frigates. Especially when they gather around fishermen gutting and cleaning their catch. They just gracefully float about without a single flap of the wings, watching and waiting. But then when fish guts get tossed up into the air, it’s like a mid-air mosh pit.

    I also like how the way they hold their legs straight behind them makes them look like the dinosaur Pterodactyl.

  • Lovely post. You know how much I adore the birds. Birding in Belize was a true highlight, especially in the southern part of the country, where some amazing hummingbirds and others that you can’t see in Ambergris Caye, live. The next time you visit Punta Gorda, do some birding — you will NOT regret it. We added quite a few gorgeous specimens to our life lists.

  • anonymoose

    nice article…
    gotta love the birds of belize.
    …….
    if the SPTC/B doesn’t stop fogging , when the mozzies thrive… there wont be much of any bird population left on ambergris caye.[kill their food,,they are gone]
    I almost 30 yrs… I’ve seen the bird population diminished by I expect, 60%.