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Bird watching


     Exciting is a word rarely associated with "bird watching" or its recent evolution to "birding." Yet the richness of the bird life in Belize is so surprising at times, that as you strive to hear an exotic melody, focus on that flash of brilliant color in the trees or see egrets riding horseback, the fascination builds and it truly becomes an exciting adventure.

     Imagine their excitement, when Israel Canto, tour guide with Cayo Adventure Tours spotted an extremely rare Harpy Eagle and his small group of birders from the U.S. videotaped it soaring near the Caracol ruins in the Chuiqibul Forest Reserve. The Harpy is the world's largest eagle, standing over 3 feet high, with an impressive wing span of nearly 7 feet. Through a joint effort with Panama, a release program has added 3 more Harpies into the Chuiqibul Reserve.  It is not known how many Harpy Eagles might still be in existence worldwide, but fewer than 30 nesting sites are documented within their entire range within the tropical lowlands of Central and South America. It is thought that the increase in monkey populations near Caracol are providing a better food supply for the Harpy, and that Belize's efforts at protecting her environment will help insure the survival of this incredible, nearly extinct giant of the skies.

     Other exciting and endangered bird species also find Belize habitat to their liking. There are six documented nesting sites of rare, Orange Breasted Falcons (one here), the tropical equivalent of the northern Peregrine Falcon. These falcons nest high on the cliffs overlooking the Macal River, on high rock outcroppings in the Mountain Pine Ridge, and on the steep walls of sink holes.

      Scarlet Macaws have found a protected breeding area along the Upper Macal River. Several other threatened or endangered species include the Crested Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Ocellated Turkey, Chestnut Bellied Heron, Muscovy Duck and Black Catbird, all thrilling to see in the wild. The Black Catbird has a small reserve dedicated to it on the island of Caye Caulker. Public awareness of the diminished numbers and possibility of extinction of these species has sparked a growing appreciation not only for them, but others as well, and reinforced the strong national commitment to their protection. With 40% of Belize territory holding "protected" reserve status, it is hoped these small, threatened bird populations over time will be able to seed larger, healthy populations throughout Central America -- a very exciting possibility.

     Our common Brown Jays, while not so exciting on their own, will point out everything else of interest taking place in the jungle, from a fruiting tree with lots of feeding activity, to the dying struggle of a gibnut in the iron grip of a boa constrictor. Jays also signal warnings of any predator in the area, and are especially quick to join Toucans and other birds in harassing owls and hawks, whether sleeping or hunting. When you hear a flock of noisy Jays, it's impossible to resist following it to see what might be creating all the excitement!

     While most birders choose clothing to blend with the natural surroundings, the neophytes or uninitiated have a surprise in store when they wear their brightly colored tropical T-shirts and hats. Hummingbirds are attracted to the bright colors, and can't resist the possibility of such a huge flower and supply of sweet nectar. It's sometimes hard to tell which is more surprised, the bird or the birder. Watching these tiniest of birds is always exciting, seeing them "standing" in midair, on invisible wings that hurtle them about yet can stop in an instant. More than 20 species of hummingbirds are residents, with at least three species found in each of the seven distinct distribution areas of Belize.

  Here at Ek' Tun, there are exciting birds and birding opportunities for every level of birder. It's possible to spot well over a hundred species in just a few days. Birding can also be integrated with other activities such as visiting ruins, canoeing, hiking and horseback riding.  Serious birders will appreciate the opportunities to add several rare and endangered species to their "life list." For them, Belize is a destination that may be worthy of several visits. And it's certain that regardless of your past birding experience, the longer you stay, the further you travel and the more you see, the more exciting the birding in Belize becomes!




...small, common birds....


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Pauraque hatchlings-Nictidomus albicollis

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    Ornate Hawk-Eagle-Spizaetus ornatus,at Ek' Tun


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   Orange-breasted Falcon- Falco deiroleucus, by Russell Thorstrom of the Peregrine Fund    


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Ocellated Turkey - Meleagris ocellata at Tikal Park

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      White-bellied Emerald Hummingbird hatchlings    Amazilia candida



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Emerald Toucanets Aulacorhynchus prasinus









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T. violaceus braccatus



Violaceous Trogons wpe6.jpg (6656 bytes) 

Spectacled Owl-Pulsatrix perspicillata saturata--and Juvenile

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...bird watching takes on a whole new dimension, with hundreds of tropical species inhabiting both the immediate and surrounding areas. 

bird watching


wpe3.jpg (16122 bytes)           Our grounds include some of the most exciting and diverse birding areas anywhere in Belize.  We have excellent trails, open vistas, many fruiting and flowering trees, and a lush, broadleaf, riparian habitat.    Watching  Orange-breasted Falcons, White Hawks, Grey Hawks, Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Arišari, Trogons and many others from our front patio is almost a daily occurrence.   It is fascinating to watch our local population mating, nesting and hunting or feeding on a continual basis, and to enjoy their daily routines along with our own.



Additional pages are under revision.... please check back for more information and photos.  Thanks!