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Recap of The First Annual Belize Birding Festival

By 11/3/2018 3 minutes

Bird watching is fast becoming a popular activity in Belize, for both visitors and locals. To date, over five hundred and eighty bird species have been recorded in the country. Although Belize is considered a small country, it is certainly blessed with big birding. Belizing.com was proud to be in attendance at the first ever Belize Birding Festival, held in Belmopan City on October 27, 2018.

Who hosted the Belize Birding Festival?

The Belize Birding Festival was organized by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) in collaboration with the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) and the Belize Hotel Association (BHA).

When and where was the first Belize Birding Festival?

After months of anticipation and excitement for Belize’s first ever birding festival, the wait was finally over. The Belize Birding Festival took place on Saturday, October 27, at the George Price Center in Belmopan City. Belizing.com was in attendance, with an exhibitor booth showcasing the many companies that offer birding packages and tours on Belizing.com

How to get to Birding Festival?

Many, near and far, flocked to Belmopan City for the first annual Belize Birding Festival. You can get to Belmopan by private vehicle, public transportation (bus), and even by flight. If you’d like to know more about the different transportation options in Belize, check out our Transportation in Belize blog.

The birding festival is scheduled to take place at different venues every year. The 2019 edition is scheduled to take place in San Ignacio Town.

How much did the tickets cost for the Belize Birding Festival?

Tickets to this event were extremely affordable. Regular passes were only $10 BZD, which gave you access to the exhibition/vendor booths and the four presentations given by the guest speakers. The all-access passes were a bit more at $25 BZD, but it included access to the morning and evening guided bird walk tours, as well as an invite to the evening cocktail hour.

What was the first Belize Birding Festival like?

BTIA hails the first annual birding festival as a resounding success in a recent press release. It was surely one of the most enjoyable events we've been to for this past year; but, by the end of the day, we were all exhausted – that’s how you know you had a good time! For some, the Belize Birding Festival started around 9:00 a.m.; well, not for the Belizing.com Team! We kicked off to the birding fest at 6:00 a.m. with the early morning urban bird watch in the Belmopan area. Before we started birding, we decided to grab some breakfast at the Belmopan Market Square. An assortment of breakfast burritos, chicken tacos, scrambled eggs and fry jacks were ordered. Fry jacks…you must have these fried fluffy goodness on your morning plate when visiting Belize!

While devouring our breakfast items, we saw several binocular-cladded groups walking by, ready to catch a sighting of one of Belize’s beautiful birds. Man, these birds have surely gotten the attention of many local birding enthusiasts and international visitors. Wondering why? Check out these beautiful creatures in a guest blog, Fifteen Beautiful Birds from Belize, by Patrick O’Donnel. If you haven’t seen these birds in person, at least you’ll get to see them in the photos – then you’ll get a gist of why birdwatching is so captivating in Belize. After all, seeing is Belizing!

Derrick, Luis and I quickly ate breakfast before joining a birdwatching group. The group that we joined included some of the guides that we met at Caves Branch and a few others from Programme for Belize formation.

The morning was all about the wonderful avifauna in the Belmopan area. In our bird watch, we were able to spot many species of bird ranging from the smaller, fluffier cuties to the larger, stern-looking fliers. Some of my favorite birds were the Yellow Warbler, Crimson-collared Tanager and the Golden-fronted Woodpecker. These were quite the sight for me as I admired their daintiness and vibrant colors. Thanks to all the great experiences that we had while filming A Day In A Birder’s Life series with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, Black Rock Lodge, San Ignacio Resort Hotel, The Lodge at Chaa Creek, and Belize Bird Rescue (coming soon), I have a higher appreciation for the birds of Belize and their contribution to Belize’s ecology.

We started down the Bliss Parade Road, moved to S Ring Road, and went deep into the residential areas before emerging at Constitution Drive. The group had already exhausted their energy and had to replenish with some juicy street-side tacos. Although we had already ate breakfast, these tacos looked so delicious – I was tempted to order $3 tacos myself! As soon as everyone’s stomach was satisfied, we walked to Codd’s Plaza and waited for the Caves Branch van to come and take us to the George Price Center on Price Center Road.

Arriving at the festival, we approached the registration booth for our entrance bands. After receiving them, we went to greet Maria, Nico and Pablo who were already at the Belizing.com booth. Our booth was already set up and ready for business. We had cool Belizing.com merchandise that we were giving away and we were hosting our own little raffle giveaway of the Birds of Belize field guide, a Belize Birds pamphlet, along with several promo codes to download the Belize Birds – Field Guide app. If you didn’t visit our booth, you definitely missed out on these cool prizes and giveaways.

In the process of sharing how the bird watching went with Maria and Pablo, we heard messages of a free breakfast inside the George Price Center. We would never refuse a complimentary breakfast, so the bird watchers of our group headed upstairs. Our energy levels were boosted with coffee, some bananas, and a couple of freshly-baked cookies from the breakfast bar. Those cookies were the bomb!

By this time, the presentations and discussions from guest speakers were about to commence. We stood at attention and sang the National Anthem as a part of the opening ceremony. After the ceremony concluded, we jumped right into a panel discussion about birding tourism in Belize and its growth with representatives from the Belize Audubon Society (BAS), the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA).

The presentations continued until 3:00 p.m. with talks from the keynote speaker, Dr. Oliver Komar, photographer Jason Tiesman, and documentary presentations from local producers. One of the things that stuck to me from the presentations was the fact that although Belize is such a small space compared to other Central American country, you can still experience big birding – something I can attest to. In one single outing from our recent trips, we recorded at least a little over sixty species. Along with encountering these beautiful birds, you also get to hike up immaculate trails up in the mountains or even go tubing down a nearby river – the adventure never stops!

At the exhibition floor, we met with many local businesses and organizations who were passionate about birding in Belize and who wanted to showcase their services and products to the festival’s visitors. To name a few, we visited the booths of the Belize Tourism Board, The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Black Rock Lodge, San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Caves Branch, Belize Bird Rescue, T.R.E.E.S, Midway, MayaWalk, and the Belize Audubon Society. Chatting with the representatives of these booths was pleasure. We got to learn what their thoughts were on the birding festival and what they were doing to contribute to the healthy growth of the birding tourism of Belize.

At 3:00 p.m., the exhibition was closed and we all packed our things to head to St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park for our last birding experience of the day. For sure, this would be a good one. The Belizing.com Team had been there before with Belize Caving Expeditions for the Crystal Cave tour; and, hiking up the trails to the cave was awesome…and tiring, but worth it. I could have only imagined what marvelous species of birds are hiding within the tree canopy.

How to get to St. Herman’s Blue Hole?

Interestingly, you can actually take the public bus to St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. It is located right off the Hummingbird Highway, about 27 minutes from Belmopan City. You can either keep an eye out for the St. Herman’s Blue Hole sign, or you can sit close to the front of the bus and tell the bus conductor that you’d like to stop at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. You can also go by private vehicle to the national park.

What to do at St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park?

As well as bird watching at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, you can hike the trails of the park and explore the cave systems located in the area. The Belizing Team explored the Crystal Cave. You can read about that adventure in our blogs or watch it on YouTube.

Takeaways from the Belize Birding Festival:

Overall, the first annual Belize Birding Festival was a great and refreshing experience for the Belizing team and everyone who attended, I’d say. It was the first event of its kind, and the 2019 Belize Birding Festival will definitely be an event to look forward to. Kudos to all the organizers, the Belize Tourism Industry Association, the Belize Tourism Board, the Belize Audubon Society, and the Belize Hotel Association for hosting such a fantastic event. We are looking forward to the 2019 Belize Birding Festival.

When is the next Belize Birding Festival?

The 2019 edition is tentatively scheduled for October 19-20, 2019 in San Ignacio Town. Stay tuned to BelizeBirdingFestival.com for more information.

#birdliketheresnotomorrow and #letsgobelizing!

Learn More
/ Group
Departs From:
Belmopan City
Belize is known for so many wonderful things- wildlife, cave systems, exotic rainforests- but a fascination with the birds of Belize has become one of the TOP nature-based activities ... moreon demand. The Belizean rainforest and savannahs contain some of the most exotic & colorful birds of Central America. With over 500 known bird species, you will have ample opportunities to see these beautiful creatures during your 4 nights stay at Caves Branch.

Explore the countryside with this unique Belize vacation package created specifically for birding enthusiasts who want more nature-based activities that focus on a growing attraction in Belize. Venture out on each of the daily activities in search of some of the unique winged creatures including the national bird of Belize- the Keel-billed Toucan or the exotic Mot-Mot bird the noisy Toucanets. Capture a Black-headed trogon and be enthralled with the natural beauty and distinct sounds. Learn about conservation efforts in Belize to save and protect some of the most endangered native species. This birding package can be done alone OR can be combined with a beach destination as the grand finale to an amazing vacation in Belize!

Caves Branch Tropical Feathers- Bird Watching Package

6 nights in a lovely Jungle Cabana

Daily buffet breakfast, lunch on tours, and buffet dinner enjoyed family style

Unlimited local beers, local rum mixed drinks, juices, sodas, coffee, tea, and water

4 Full Day Guided Birding Tours + 1 Additional Full Day Adventure Tour of Choice
**Surcharges apply for Tikal Maya Ruins tour, ATM Cave, Diving, Snorkelling, River of Caves 7 Mile Tour combined w/ Ziplining

Jungle Safari After Dark Tour (approx. 2 hours) which leaves right after dinner time

Roundtrip shuttle service to & from Belize City (includes international or municipal airports)

All Taxes Included
/ Adult
Departs From:
Belize City
View some Belize of the most beautiful birds in the tropical wetland; Birding-by-Boat Cruise At The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect location for Birds in Belize. This ... moreincredible wetland ecosystem is the largest of its kind in northern Belize and is 30 miles north of Belize City. Mother Nature has designed this huge lagoon just for birds. It’s home to most of Belize's 574 species of birds found in the country, including One the largest flying Bird in the Americas Jabiru Stork, different species of Birds Like egrets and herons, and even the magnificent Northern Jacana just to name a few. But birds aren’t the only animals you can see on this cruise. On this cruise will have a high possibility To see Morlet crocodiles, green as well as spiny tail iguanas, and even howler monkeys.
/ Person
Departs From:
Belize City
Your friendly Smart Travel Belize Tour Guide will meet you at the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City. After your welcome, your guide will then make his way through Belize City. ... moreExpect to get a brief history of Belize as we make our way to the highway. Enjoy your 45-minute ride on the Phillip Goldson Highway where you will be given a wealth of information about each of the villages. Additionally, see how the locals pass their time throughout the day. Upon arriving at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, you will meet one of the local guides who will be conducting the howler monkey tour. 

You will be taken along the howler monkey trails where you will be given a brief history of how the Community Baboon Sanctuary came into existence. You will also learn about the Flora and Fauna in the area. Come in contact with different medicinal plants and their benefits that were once used by the Mayas and the locals of today. You will get a close encounter with the Howler Monkeys and hear their loud howl as if you are in the Jurassic Movie.

From there you will make your way back towards Burrell Boom Village where you will make a small stop to do some birding at the Black Orchid Resort. The Black Orchid Resort is the number 1 Resort in the Area and they boast approximately 100 different species of Birds that visit the property. They also have a Restaurant on the property if you would like to grab a bite or something to drink. You will then Head back to Belize City where your guide will take you back to the Fort Street Tourism Village.


This tour is available to cruise ship passengers and overnight guests.

Hands-on tour.
/ Person
Day 1: AIRPORT/CRYSTAL PARADISE You will be met at the airport by your Belizean bird guide and transferred to your jungle lodge accommodations. Optional stop to visit the Belize Zoo ... more(entrance fee not included, US$15/pp). We check into our accommodations at Crystal Paradise after a short orientation.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. /D

Day 2: MACAL RIVER CANOEING – morning or afternoon
Canoeing on the Macal River. While canoeing we have the chance to see Neotropic Cormorants, Mangrove Swallows, Kingfishers, Gray-necked Wood-rails and other wildlife that frequent the riverbanks such as iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks and trees.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

We will make an afternoon visit to El Pilar, a Maya site, and flora/fauna reserve. It is excellent for birding, and hiking, and provides an insight into Belize’s sub-tropical forests. We will make stops along the way to view such birds as the Collared Manakins and Honeycreepers an array of flycatchers etc. We will then return to our accommodations after witnessing a Belizean sunset.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

Day 4: Mountain Pine Ridge/Rio on Pools/Rio Frio Caves
The Cayo District’s principal town of San Ignacio is the gateway to some of Belize’s most precious ecological gems. After breakfast at the hotel, we will experience the wonders of Mountain Pine Ridge.

Bring along your walking shoes, swimwear, and adventurous mind for a full day of activity. The reserve is teaming with hills and valleys, rivers and falls, swimming holes and caves, all surrounded by the majestic beauty of Pine Forests. Our main stops will be at the Rio Frio Caves, Rio on Pools, and weather and road conditions permitting, you’ll get a chance to see the 1000 ft. Hidden Valley Waterfalls. Bring along your binoculars, as there is much to see in the line of exotic flora and fauna, endemic only to this extremely rugged, but beautiful part of the county. Lunch is included before returning back to Crystal Paradise Resort. O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

Day 5: Spanish Lookout & Laguna Aguacate
A 45-minute drive north of Crystal Paradise through rolling green hills brings you to Spanish Lookout, a modern-day Mennonite settlement reminiscent of Pennsylvania farmlands. Several different habitats in the area make it a favorable birding destination. The area consists of Savannah, open farmland, and subtropical forest around the lake. In the open land and pastures, it is easy to find Vermillion Flycatchers, Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-Tailed Kites and Hawks, Laughing Falcons, Meadowlarks, Swallows, Herons, Jabiru storks just to name a few. Aguacate Lagoon Reserve is located about 20 minutes beyond the community and provides a birdwatcher’s paradise. In the forest around the lake common sighting may include Jacamars, Trogons, Puff-birds, Crested Guans, and Great Curassows. Other birds may include Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Night Herons, rails, and Crakes. O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Belize City/Belize Airport.B/

** itinerary is subject to change once here due to weather conditions or unforeseen events***
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
INLAND BLUE HOLE BIRDWATCHING Belize is a birdwatcher’s paradise! As many as 587 birds have been recorded in Belize and, of these, approximately 20 percent are migrants from North ... moreAmerica. Every year new species are documented. Eight new records were accepted in 2007, including the Crested Caracara, Canada Goose, and Spot-breasted Oriole. For those interested in exploring the diversity and beauty of the avifauna of the diverse habitats MayaWalk expert birdwatching guides will point out tiny iridescent hummingbirds, impressive raptors, and various migratory and endemic songbirds. One of the best places to go on a Belize birding tour is St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, a beautiful protected area along the scenic Hummingbird Highway.

This small park covers 575 acres and has two natural features open for touring, St. Herman’s Cave: a beautiful crystalline cave in the limestone hills, and the Blue Hole: a clear sinkhole filled with turquoise waters, perfect for a swim. A series of lovely hiking trails over various landscapes take visitors into the jungle where the foliage, tropical flowers, and rainforest canopy are the feeding and nesting grounds for hundreds of species of birds. For those interested in finding out more about the amazingly diverse avifauna of Belize we recommend purchasing Birds of Belize (University of Texas Press) by H. Lee Jones, illustrated by Dana Gardner-- a must-have for serious birders. Published in 2003, this is the first complete guide to the identification of all the birds of Belize and it is beautifully illustrated and complete with habitat information. Our birding guides will be equipped with binoculars and a spotting scope to make the most of your birding experience. Enjoy the serene trails of the park and end the day with a lovely swim in the Blue Hole.
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
CAHAL PECH BIRDWATCHING Cahal Pech was the ancient palatial compound of an elite aristocratic Mayan family. The site name is Maya for “House of Ticks” (given in the 1950s when the ... morearea was used for grazing cattle) and it is situated on the highest hill overlooking modern-day San Ignacio town. This is a serene jungle setting close to the town, and the 2-acre compound is not only rich in ancient artifacts and structures but also in wildlife. Cahal Pech is an excellent place for birding in Belize. This is a fascinating site for birdwatching as the morning mist rises over the various temples and courtyards, which were built over several centuries spanning from 1000 BC to 800AD. Belize birding tours at Cahal Pech will offer birders a chance to see a vast variety of tropical bird species, including hummingbirds, parrots, birds of prey, and many colorful migratory birds. Your bird-watching vacation in Belize is not complete without a morning spent in this otherworldly environment, where the jungle allows glimpses of the cultural past of this ancient landscape.
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
An opportunity to view some of Belize's most beautiful birds. There are close to 600 species of birds, including approximately 20 to 25% migrants. Cayo District is an excellent place ... morefor bird watching with locations such as El Pillar, Mountain Ridge, Spanish Lookout, etc. In addition for avid bird watchers, packages can be customized to include other excellent locations in other parts of the country such as the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Lamanai, Blue Hole National Park, Baboon Sanctuary, Jaguar Reserve, Guanacaste National Park, and Gra Gra Lagoon and other locations. Bird-watching tours can also be combined with other tours for eg Mayan sites and nature walks.
In this episode we speak with Dorian Rivero, owner of Private Belize Adventure and tour guide of over 20 years, to discuss what activities are available to visitors in and around Belize ... moreCity. Take a virtual walk-through of cave tubing destination Nohoch Che’en as well as the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha.
Guest Name:
Dorian Rivero

Angela Wu

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