Best Bird Watching Holidays – Birding in Belize

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

If you want to see birds, sometimes you have to get up with them. That’s why the most popular birding tour at the Bird’s Eye View Lodge is the one that happens at first light. Our boat was completely full of passengers when we pulled away from the dock at 545 am. The 16,400 acres of lagoons, creeks and wetlands in Audubon-protected Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary were teeming with wildlife and most importantly bird life. That’s what makes this special place one of the best spots for birding in Belize and one of the world’s best destinations for bird watching holidays.

Note: If you like articles about birding and bird watching holidays, check out our article about bird watching in San Blas, Mexico.

An image of a jabiru stork at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

The jabiru stork is the tallest flying bird in Central America. Large males can stand as tall as 1.53 m (5 ft) and have a 2.8 m (9.2 ft) wingspan. Photo by GREG OLSEN

The Jabiru Stork

The jabiru is a very rare bird and Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the largest population of these rare members of the stork family. They are one of the largest birds in North America standing at 1.53 m (5 ft) and having a wingspan of 2.8 m (9.2 ft). Most people who go birding in Belize at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary hope they will see a jabiru. We were fortunate to see several during our visit in late March. You can typically see them in the sanctuary from November to June or July.  Belize has the healthiest breeding population of jabirus in all of Central America, but even so the largest number ever counted in the country was just 24.

An image of a boat of a lagoon in the Coorked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

Guided early morning birding tours are a highlight of a stay at Bird’s Eye View Lodge in Belize. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

Birds of Belize

Our tour guides had an incredible knowledge of the local flora and fauna in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. There were innumerable birds and so many amazing photo opportunities that time flew by. Here are just a few of the interesting species we saw.

An image of a Great Black Hawk in Belize

The great black hawk, or Brazilian eagle ranges from Mexico to Argentina and feeds on frogs, fish, and other aquatic creatures. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of a great blue heron swallowing a large fish at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

This great blue heron was enjoying a great big breakfast. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of roseate spoonbills in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

The shallow muddy waters of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary are ideal habitat for these roseate spoonbills. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of a northern jacana bird at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

Locals like to call the northern jacana the “Jesus Bird,” because it appears to walk on water. In reality, it is waking on submerged vegetation. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of a golden sunrise and several white ibis birds in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

Seeing the sunrise reflecting off the water and observing and hearing the birds waking up to the sun is the best part of an early morning birding tour at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of Bird's Eye View Lodge in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

Bird’s Eye View Lodge is a wonderful spot for a bird watching holiday in Belize. Photo by GREG OLSEN

An image of a male Vermillion flycatcher at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize

We saw this little guy on a fence inside the sanctuary. Most flycatchers are not very colorful, but the Vermilion flycatcher is a notable exception. Males have bright red bodies while females have peach-colored bodies. Photo by GREG OLSEN

If You Go:

  • Rates at the Bird’s Eye View Lodge start at $60 USD per night. There’s an on-site dining room and the food is good. They offer guided tours of the wildlife sanctuary and they can arrange day tours to mayan ruins and other sites in Belize.
  • Crooked Tree is a small village 53 km (33 miles) outside Belize city. In addition to the lodge, Beck’s Bed and Breakfast is another good accommodation option in this area.
  • You’ll see birds year-round in the lagoon, but they become more concentrated in March and April as the water in the lagoon gets lower during the dry season.The jabiru stork can be seen from November to June or July. 

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