FAQs About Birding in Belize

Keel-billed ToucnIs birding in Belize similar to watching birds in Europe, Canada, or the USA?

Altamira OrioleBirding in the temperate zone is quite different from bird watching in Belize. Although a few species will be familiar (especially those that spend the winter in Belize), most of the birds pertain to tropical families that don’t occur north of Mexico. These are exotic bird species like motmots, trogons, toucans, parrots, manakins, and more. Many species are also restricted to certain habitats, frequent the tall canopy of rainforest, or skulk in the dim understory. However, the main difference is that you will see a lot more bird species in Belize than birding your favorite reserves in Europe, the USA, or Canada.

Which birds will I see in Belize?

In Belize, there are birds just about everywhere, and there are reserves that protect rich wetlands, coastal habitats, and tropical forests. The following are just a few of the special birds that can be seen in Belize:

Learn about all of these bird species and many more on our Belize birding app

What about hiring a birding guide?

If you prefer to bird on your own, don’t hire a guide but don’t expect to see as many species either. A good, local birding guide will help you see and learn about a lot more species no matter how much you study before the trip. There are several knowledgeable birding guides who live and work in Belize

Where can I see birds in Belize?

The easiest place to start looking for birds in Belize is in the gardens of your hotel. A surprising number of bird species can be found on the grounds of hotels and eco-lodges and there may also be someone present to help you identify them. However, the places with the highest number of bird species are protected areas like national parks and preserves. Some of the more popular sites for birding and frequently visited places are:
• Crooked Tree Lagoon: This wetland sanctuary is a great place to see a great mix of wetland and dry forest species including Jabiru, Black-collared Hawk, Yellow-lored Parrot, and Yucatan Jay.
• Lamanai: This Mayan ruin site is a good place to connect with a wide variety of tropical bird species including Gartered Trogon and toucans.
• Caracol: Another wonderful Mayan complex, the blend of pine and broadleaf forests offer excellent birding and a chance at species like the Ocellated Turkey and the rare Keel-billed Motmot.
• Mountain Pine Ridge: This interesting area offers access to pine woodlands that host Black-headed Siskin, Orange-breasted Falcon, and other localized species.
• The Jaguar Reserve: The extensive rainforests at this site provide habitat for toucans, Scarlet Macaw, and many other bird species in addition to Jaguars.

For more detailed information on these and many other sites, we recommend “A Birders Guide to Belize” by Bert Frenz.

How can I start watching birds in Belize?

First and foremost, come to Belize with good binoculars. That would be 8 x 42 or 7 x 42 binos as opposed to small travel binoculars. Waterproof binoculars with coated lenses will also greatly improve your birding experience in Belize. Eagle Optics is an excellent North American dealer in optics with experts who will help you find the best binoculars and spotting scope for your budget and needs. In Belize, a scope is handy while birding coastal habitats, open wetlands, and checking out birds perched in the canopy of the rainforest.

Is there a field guide for Belize?

Several field guide books are available that show the birds of Belize but the two most recommended ones are “Birds of Belize” by H. Lee Jones and Dana Gardner, and the “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America (Peterson Field Guides)” by Jesse Fagan and Oliver Komar, and illustrated by Robert Dean and David Beadle. However, for a smaller, lightweight field guide with photos and bird sounds, try our Belize Birds Field Guide app.