Birding in Belize

Bird Watching with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure and Jungle Lodge

By Angela Wu 10/1/2018 3 minutes


It was my first time bird watching; and, to my surprise, it was an invigorating experience. We were invited over by Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge, also known as “Caves Branch,” to go bird watching with all their birding guides. We sort of had the idea that the most appropriate times to go birding would be in the morning or in the evenings. And we were right; we had to get up early in the morning to get to Caves Branch, which is located in the outskirts of Belmopan after the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. It was at least a fifteen-minute drive from the City of Belmopan to get to Caves Branch. Although we had to roll out of our beds extra early, you know what they say, “Early bird catches the worm.”

On our way there, we experienced some scattered showers; and, we were hoping that the rain wouldn’t ruin our first time birding. We were ready to capture all the beautiful birds that we only get to see in fancy pictures posted by professional birders.

Growing up in Belize, I was accustomed to seeing the everyday black crow, pigeon and the infamous “Jankro” or “John Crow.” What’s the Jankro you would ask? It is the local term for the black vulture that is usually flying around when they catch a whiff of their next meal.

Here’s a little Belizean proverb about these Jankros for you, “Evrey John Crow tink ‘e pikney white – Every black bird thinks his children are white, or no one sees the flaws in his/her own child.” Interesting, isn’t it?

Getting to experience birding with a group of passionate and engaging tour guides was a pleasure. It was Luis, Derrick and I that accompanied a group of at least five or six birding guides. Everyone was so enthusiastic and quick to spot their next flying friend. Jason, one of the guides, showed us two useful apps that expert and amateur birders use. These were the eBird App and the Merlin App. If you didn’t know, the eBird App, that is available for both Android and Apple, is a data entry app that allows you to record the bird that you encounter and submit them to your eBird account. The Merlin app, which is also available for Android and Apple devices, is one that is most useful for me who is a beginner birder. It allows you to identify birds in your area. You can simply take a picture or upload a picture of the bird. It will then give you the name of the bird along with more pictures and additional information.

After showing us those apps, we met with Carlos, who is the head guide at Caves Branch. We also met with Marvin and Esperansa, who are two of the lead birders in the team, along with Hector, Pedro, and two other guides. Everyone was ecstatic to spot their next bird. One bird after the other, we continued to move and hike through the lodge to see if we can spot some other birds.

We got to see the Lineated Woodpecker and the Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night Heron. We also saw a Grey Hawk and a Great Black Hawk, and other beautiful, vibrant birds such as the Prothonotary Warbler.

Since I have a very inconvenient case of astigmatism, I relied a lot on my Nikon binoculars and a super scope that the guides had. That scope was amazing! It zoomed in so well that we could have seen in detail every bird that we spotted, whether it was in a tree that was really far from us or just a branch that was a couple feet away. My favorite thing about the scope was being able to place my phone camera at the peeping hole and snap clear pictures of the birds! I was like, “Wow! This scope is amazing!” A double kudos to whoever created those. You have made a girl with bad astigmatism zealous about bird watching. I now have a greater appreciation for the local and migratory birds that can be found in Belize. And, I encourage you to go birding in Belize because it is simply marvelous to see great works of nature that are hiding in our tree branches.

It wasn’t just me that enjoyed our bird watching trip. Derrick and Luis also had a great time. In Luis’ perspective, bird watching is a great activity that contributes to data collection. And, collecting data and having that data, in this case with birds, is important for the conservation and protection of our natural resources – and I agree.

I don’t think that I would ever underrate bird watching like I used to. It is a fun and exciting pastime that is great when you have amazing guides such as the ones that we met at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge.

After our birding tour, we had breakfast at Caves Branch’s restaurant. The food was spot on! We got to do breakfast buffet style and everything that I had on my plate was YUM-MEE! I had fresh fruits, pancakes, sausage links, sautéed bell peppers, and an interesting cup of white chocolate mocha black tea from Stash Tea. My morning was great that day!

A massive thank you to Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge for having us over – it was a pleasure meeting all the guides. We definitely learned a lot about birding and we got to experience A Day in a Birder’s Life with everyone from Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge. If you would like to experience birding with them as well, head over to belizing.com and book their amazing Tropical Feathers bird watching package. It is a lovely 6-night stay in one of their super cool cabanas; and, it also includes unlimited drinks from their restaurant and bar, the delicious buffet style breakfast, lunch on tours and buffet style dinner – perfect for any family. Caves Branch also offers other tours such as caving and the black hole drop. Visit Caves Branch’s listings here.

Did you know that Belize will be having its First Annual Belize Birding Festival? It is a birding festival organized by the Belize Tourism Industry Association, the Belize Audubon Society and the Belize Hotel Association. This will be happening on October 27, 2018 at the George Price Center in the Capital of Belize, Belmopan City. If you love to go birding and is passionate about birds, then you should definitely take trip to Belmopan and attend the First Annual Birding Festival
Learn More
Events
 (1)
Belize Birding Festival To celebrate Belize’s avifauna, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), in partnership with the Belize Hotel Association (BHA) and the Belize Audubon ... moreSociety (BAS), is hosting the second Belize Birding Festival in San Ignacio Town, Cayo, Belize.

As nature’s best kept secret, Belize offers many birding hotspots for amateur and expert birdwatchers, including six Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Most of these hotspots are nestled in nature reserves that are tropical forests, savannahs, wetlands, islands, and coastal planes. These locations make for an ideal habitat for a diverse collection of birds.
2019 Belize Birding Festival The 2019 Belize Birding Festival celebrates the love for birds and the unique collection of bird species that exist in the country. This birding festival will be hosted at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel in San Ignacio town.

The two-day event includes vendor and exhibit booths, birding and photography talks, a variety of presentations, video documentaries, and bird watching sessions with top birders in Belize.

More details will be posted as soon as new information is release by the organizers. See the official website at http://www.belizebirdingfestival.bz or the Belizing.com fan page at http://www.belizebirdingfestival.com

#belizebirding #BelizeBirdingFestival2019 #letsgobelizing
Why should you attend the 2019 Belize Birding Festival? The Annual Belize Birding Festival is a great opportunity for amateur bird waters and professional bird watchers to come together and celebrate their admiration for birds.
Entrance Fee:
$10 - $60 BZD
Venue:
San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Address:
San Ignacio Town, Cayo District, Belize
Start Date:
Saturday, 19 Oct, 2019Annually, starting Oct 19, 2019
District:
Cayo
Tours/Activities
$
1,625
-
$
2,508
/ Group
 (1)
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
$
90
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Explore ancient underground Mayan caves with secret waterfalls hidden deep in the underground ceremonial caverns. The adventure starts with a 25-minute hike through the jungle to the ... moreentrance of the hidden cave. From the entrance the hike in through the cave is about 45 minutes- your excitement growing as you hear the distance thundering of the waterfalls grow louder and louder. The adrenaline kicker is rock climb up each waterfall, swim through plunge pools and stepping out of your comfort zone as you climb up the largest waterfall -15 feet high! The entire time, you are again- underground- inside a mysterious cave. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience that you will not want to miss.
$
118
13
/ Person
Departs From:
Belmopan City
Scratch “Adrenaline Pumping” off your bucket list! Hike up into the foothills of the Maya Mountains to the edge of the Actun Loch Tunich- a GINORMOUS natural sink-hole that drops 300ft ... moreinto the rainforest floor below. Trained guides have rigged a system of 1st class rappelling ropes into the depths- to the rainforest basin floor below. Your adrenaline will kick in – leaving you stunned one second and breathless the next, by the breathtaking views that surround you as you repel down. Reaching the bottom- in a Superman type landing- relax for a lunch served on a white tablecloth covered stone; a well-deserved feast! The rainforest exploration continues as you rock climb and hike your way out of the sinkhole and back down to the starting point of this phenomenal adventure. This isn’t called the “Mother of all Caves” for no reason.
$
85
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Ian Anderson’s Original-Cave Tubing Adventure: Available YEAR ROUND, this full day caving expedition will take you off the beaten path to explore ancient Mayan ceremonial centers, ... morepottery, artifacts, altars, obsidian blood-letting blades, jade, and the actual footprints of ancient Shamans and priests that date back to 400 A.D. Have lunch served picnic style by headlight to the sounds of the underground cave. **This adventure is not the same as the highly requested River of Caves 7 Mile Cave Tubing (which is only available from July to Jan each year). 

MANDATORY CLOTHING:

Comfortable lightweight shorts and a shirt that allows for movement and can get wet. Well threaded sneakers or hiking boots, and mosquito repellant. 

AGE RECOMMENDATION: 7 years old and up
(Younger children must be approved by Guide Team).

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: 2 persons

Angela Wu

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