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Birds of Belize. As encountered by: Chip Floyd Keith Donahue. Birds of Belize. In Belize there are 572 species in 56 families Also, of the 21 species endemic to Central America, two of these 21 can be found in Belize. Birds of Belize.

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Birds of belize

Birds of Belize

As encountered by:

Chip Floyd

Keith Donahue

Birds of belize1
Birds of Belize

  • In Belize there are572 speciesin 56 families

  • Also, of the 21 species endemic to Central America, two of these 21 can be found in Belize

Birds of belize2
Birds of Belize

  • Unusual birds such as the Jabiru Stork, the largest in the Western Hemisphere and with a height of 5 feet, can be found here.

  • Exciting and endangered species of birds include the Keel-billed Toucan, Blue-crowned Motmot, and Orange-breasted Falcon.

  • Other interesting and/or threatened species includes Oscillated Turkey, Chestnut-bellied Heron, Solitary Eagle, and Crested Eagle.

  • The Black Catbird is making a comeback at a small reserve dedicated to it on Caye Caulker.

Birds and their habitats in belize
Birds and their Habitats in Belize

  • With the types of birds to be found dependent upon the type of natural habitat you are in, experienced Ornithologists as well as beginners will find birding throughout Belize a rewarding experience. Whether on a remote island, on a jungle walk or in the backyard of your hotel you are bound to encounter spectacular plumage, stirring calls or the steady drumming of a hummingbird's wings.

  • Following are some common species to be found in:

    Coastal areas and on the islands: brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds, laughing gulls, osprey, seagulls, Ruddy terns, brown boobies and on Belize's first national park, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument - the rare red-footed booby. Wetlands - Roseate spoonbills, great egrets, green, blue, the not so common boat-billed and agami herons, northern jacana, and the endangered Jabiru Stork at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Grasslands and savannahs - the fork-tailed and vermilion flycatchers, a variety of tiny seedeaters, tanagers and the ever present roadside hawk.

    Broad leaf forests - Montezuma's Oropendula with its colony of hanging nests in tall trees, blue crowned mot mot, on forest floor - great tinamou, black faced antthrush midstory; sulfur rumped flycatchers high in forest canopy - Belize's national bird - keel-billed toucan

Best times to view birds
Best Times to View Birds

  • The best time for birding is usually outside the hottest part of the day, making early morning and late evening ideal times. However, there are many sightings under the canopy on jungle walks even during the day.

  • The day to day activities of birds as well as their annual cycles provide great opportunities to see birds at their best.

    Feeding - catch birds feeding either in the early morning, evening or at night depending on the species.

    Grooming - sit back and watch birds oil their wings which needs to be groomed in order to avoid prey in flight and keep warm.

    Communication - listen and watch various species as they send out a warning call to the colony or the mating dance of males in attracting females.

    Mating - Most birds breed and raise their young at the end of the dry season in April to July. This period provides great opportunities to watch mating rituals, nest building, rearing of young or survival training for chicks.

    Migration - The yearly migration of North American birds escaping winter in December is a good opportunity to complete your checklist or view migrant species. It is a good idea to carry your guide on North American Birds as well as Mexico and Central America as the plumage on many of the birds you may be accustomed to at home will be different while they are on their "winter holiday" in the tropics


SIZE57 inches

RANGE:S. Mexico to N. Argentina

HABITAT:Savannas, coastal lagoons and marshes

FOOD:Fish and reptiles

Jabiru stork
Jabiru Stork

  • The Jabiru Stork is a very rare bird and is endangered throughout its range.

  • One of the largest birds in the New World, the Jabiru stands 5 feet tall and has a wingspan of 8 feet.

  • Its heavily bill is about 12 inches long and is perfectly designed to catch fish, frogs and snakes.

  • Recent studies have confirmed that Belize has the healthiest breeding population of jabirus for all of Central America.

  • They arrive in Belize from Mexico in November and nest in the tall pines of the savannas and marshes of the Belizean lowlands. They remain in Belize until June or July, flying north with the first rains.

Keel billed toucan
Keel-billed Toucan


SIZE20 inches RANGE:S. Mexico to N. Columbia

HABITAT:Lowland forests and forest borders FOOD:Fruits, insects, reptiles, bird eggs.

Keel billed toucan1
Keel-billed Toucan

  • The Keel-billed Toucan, known as the "bill bird" locally, is the national bird of Belize.

  • The most obvious characteristic of the toucan is the huge yellow, orange, red, green and black bill.

  • The Keel-billed toucans are a very social bird and can often be seen in flocks of six or more birds.

  • They are found throughout Belize's forests and nest in holes in tree trunks.

  • They lay one to four eggs and the parent birds take turns incubating the eggs.

  • Toucans are primarily fruit eaters, feeding on a wide variety of tropical fruits of the forest. Toucans will also feed on insects, lizards, snakes and event he eggs of smaller birds.

Harpy eagle
Harpy Eagle


SIZE35 ­ 41 inches tall WING SPAN:6 - 7ft.

RANGE:Southern Mexico all the way down into Northern Argentina and Southern Brazil HABITAT:Tropical lowland forests

FOOD:Sloth, Monkeys, opossums, as well as various reptiles and other birds.

Harpy eagles
Harpy Eagles

  • Harpy Eagles are considered to be one of the world’s largest eagles.

  • This eagle has hind talons that can be as large as those of a grizzly bear. However, it can only fly with prey weighing less than one half its own body weight.

  • These birds are found from southeastern Mexico to northern Argentina and Southern Brazil.

  • This bird prefers large expanses of uninterrupted forest, but will hunt in open areas near to their territory.

  • They feed primarily on animals that live in the trees, such as sloth, monkeys, opossums, as well as various reptiles and other birds.

  • Harpy Eagles are highly maneuverable fliers and strike their prey after rapid pursuit through the forest canopy.

  • Harpy Eagles Build extremely large nests of sticks and branches in the tallest, or emergent, trees in their territory. Female Harpy Eagles lay 1- 2 eggs every 2 -3 years. When the first egg hatches 53 ­ 58 days later, the other egg is usually ignored and does not hatch. The new chick will fledge from 4_ to 6 months of age, but the young bird will stay in and around the parent’s territory for at least a year.

Scarlet macaw
Scarlet Macaw

SIZE35 inches

RANGE:E. Mexico to Brazil

HABITAT:Tall deciduous trees of forests and rivers.

FOOD:Tropical forest fruits

Scarlet macaw1
Scarlet Macaw

  • The Scarlet Macaw is arguably the most magnificent bird of the parrot family. With their wide strong wings, macaws can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour.

  • They often fly in pairs or small groups and often call to each other in raucous hoarse voices.

  • Macaws appear to prefer higher elevations and riparian (riverine) forests. They are known to have very large territories.

  • They prefer to nest in holes high up in trees and lay one or two eggs.

  • They feed on specific fruits such as pole wood, roaming large areas searching for clumps of their favorite foods.

  • As recent as 1989, the reported Belizean population of Scarlet Macaws was a total of 24 birds. But in 1996, a new population of over 100 birds was "discovered" south of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • Unfortunately, over most of its range, the Scarlet macaw is endangered, a victim of human greed - many have been taken as a commodity in the pet trade.

Magnificent frigatebird
Magnificent Frigatebird

Identification Tips:

Length: 35 inches Wingspan: 90 inches

Very large

Chases other birds to steal their prey

Effortlessly glides on long, pointed wings and long, forked tail

Long, hooked bill

Magnificent frigatebird1
Magnificent Frigatebird

  • Adult male

    Entirely black plumage

    Red, inflatable throat sac

  • Adult female

    White breast

    Remainder of plumage black

  • Immature

    White head and breast

    Remainder of plumage black

  • Similar species:

    With its huge size, long, pointed wings and forked tail the frigatebird is instantly recognizable even at long distances. It is most often seen soaring over coastal areas.

Royal tern
Royal Tern

Identification Tips:

Length: 18 inches Wingspan: 43 inches

Sexes similar

Dives into water for prey

Large tern with fairly thick orange bill

Fairly long, deeply forked tail

Spiky crest at the rear of the head

Pale underwing with dark tips to outer primaries

Takes three years to reach full adult plumage

Royal tern1
Royal Tern

  • Adult alternate:

    Black legs

    Black cap

    White face, neck, breast, and belly

    Pale gray back and upper wings

    White rump and tail, often with dark edgings

    Plumage held in Spring (March to May)

  • Adult basic:

    White forehead and crown

    Black mask extends rearward from eye to spiky crest at rear of head

    White eye ring in dark mask

    Outer primaries and tail feathers darken with wear, becoming dark gray in basic plumage

Royal tern2
Royal Tern

  • Similar species:

    When identifying terns, it is safest to use a combination of field marks instead of relying on a single characteristic. Elegant Terns are slightly smaller and slenderer, with more slender, drooping bills and, when not in alternate plumage, lack a pale eye ring in the dark mask. The Caspian can be separated from the Royal by its thicker, reddish bill, dark wedge on the outer portion of the underwing, its more shallowly-forked tail and its tendency to have an almost complete cap in basic and immature plumages. The smaller Sterna terns have slimmer, black or black-tipped bills, slimmer bodies and wings and a much more deeply-forked tail

F green kingfisher
F. Green Kingfisher

Description 8" (20 cm). Starling-sized. Dark glossy green above, white below; male has broad rufous breast band, female has green breast band. Both sexes have white collar.

Habitat Woodland streams and pools.

Nesting 4-6 white eggs in a cavity at the end of a burrow dug in a sandy bank.

Range Resident from extreme southern Texas south into tropics. Straggles to southern Arizona and western Texas.

Voice An insect-like buzz; also low clicking notes.

F green kingfisher1
F. Green Kingfisher

  • Discussion

    Smallest of the three species found in the United States, these birds may be observed in southern Texas near shaded, forest-fringed pools and streams of clear water, where they sit for long periods on a low limb overhanging water until they spot a minnow or other small fish. They then plunge into the water after their prey. At other times, when at a considerable distance from water, they feed on small lizards or grasshoppers

Lesser yellow headed vulture1
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

  • Diet/Feeding:

    The primary staple of this vulture's diet is carrion, though it is very fond of fish, and may occasionally take them alive.

  • Range/Habitat:

    The Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture inhabits Savannas, Grasslands, and Marshes in South America.  It ranges from Argentina and Uruguay, as far north as Mexico. 

  • Breeding:

    Unlike the open-air or ground nesting habits of its many vulture relatives, the lesser yellow-headed vulture nests in tree cavities.

  • Status:  Rare

  • Misc. Information:

    Only recently was the Lesser yellow-headed vulture recognized as a separate species from the Greater yellow-headed vulture.  This distinction was made official in 1964.

White pelican
White Pelican

Habitat: The birds are very social and group their nests together in colonies. They leave before freeze-up in late September and migrate to the coasts of Florida and Mexico for the winter.

  • Appearance: One of the world's largest birds, it weighs 5-8 kg and has a wingspan up to 3 m. Beneath it's long, flattened bill is a bright yellow-orange pouch for feeding.

  • Food: Adults can consume up to 2 kg of food each day. In shallow water, they scoop up as much as 20 litres, straining out the young, warm-water fish, salamanders, frogs and aquatic invertebrates.

  • Breeding: Both sexes prominently display their bright orange bills during courtship rituals which include bowing, strutting and short flights. Egg-laying in a colony begins in mid-May. Both adults tend the large, chalky white eggs until they hatch about a month later.

  • Lifespan: 12-14 years in the wild.

Snowy egrets
Snowy Egrets

  • Identification Tips:

    Length: 20 inches Wingspan: 38 inches

    Sexes similar

    Medium-sized long-legged wading bird

    Usually holds necks in "S" curve in flight

    Entirely white plumage

  • Adult:

    Thin black bill and yellow facial skin

    Black legs with yellow feet

    Shaggy plumes on head, neck, and back in alternate plumage

  • Immature:

    Yellow stripe up the back of the black legs ,and yellow feet

    With pale-based bill when they leave nest, becomes black during autumn

    Lacks shaggy head, neck and back plumes

Yellow bellied sapsucker
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Identification Tips:

Length: 7.75 inches

Medium-sized woodpecker

Black head traversed by white postocular stripe extending down neck

Red forehead

Pale moustachial stripe offsets black chest and complete, thick black border to throat

Black back with faint white bars

Black wings, with white barring on flight feathers and bold white patch on wing coverts

Yellow breast fades to whitish lower belly and vent, and is streaked sparsely about the flanks

White rump

Dark tail with black and white barring on central most and outermost retraces

Very rarely shows red nape spot

Yellow bellied sapsucker1
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

  • Habitat:Breeding habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, especially woods with aspen. Requires dead trees or trees with some soft wood for excavating nest cavities.Winter habitat: Orchards, parks, woodlands.Diet: Tree sap and the inner bark of trees; insects such as ants, beetles, and moths; wild fruits and berries.

American redstart
American Redstart

Identification Tips:

Length: 4.5 inches

Small, insect-eating bird

Thin, pointed bill

Feeds very actively (even for a warbler)

Often fans tail exposing red or yellow patches

Adult male:

Orange-red sides of breast, wing and tail patches

Belly and undertail coverts white

Remainder of plumage black

Female and immature:

Yellow sides of breast, wing and tail patches

White underparts

Olive upperparts with grayer head

Immature males begin to acquire adult male pattern in second year


Identification Tips:

Length: 10-12 inches

Very long tail

Long bill

Frequently gathers in large flocks


Entirely black plumage

Entirely purple or purple and greenish iridiscence to plumage

Pale eye

Similar species:

Similar to blackbirds but larger with a much longer tail. Male Great-tailed and Boat-tailed Grackles are similar but larger with longer tails.

Grackles blackbirds
Grackles (Blackbirds)

  • Of the 94 species of blackbirds in the New World, 17 live in Belize.

  • Blackbirds breed in almost every environment in the New World from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska.

  • The adjacent lowland of the Mexico plateau is where orioles evolved and where the highest concentrations of blackbird species breed.

Hummingbirds of belize
Hummingbirds of Belize

  • Band-tailed Barbthroat

  • Western Long-tailed Hermit

  • Stripe-throated Hermit

  • Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

  • Wedge-tailed Sabrewing

  • Violet Sabrewing

  • White-necked Jacobin

  • Brown Violet-ear

  • Green-breasted Mango

  • Emerald-chinned Hummingbird

  • Black-crested Coquette

  • Canivet's Emerald

  • Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph

Hummingbirds of belize1

Blue-throated Goldentail

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Cinnamon Hummingbird

White-bellied Emerald

Azure-crowned Hummingbird

Green-fronted Hummingbird

Purple-crowned Fairy

Plain-capped Starthroat

Long-billed Starthroat

Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hummingbirds of Belize


  • None of these birds were harmed during the making of this Powerpoint