Birding in Belize

By Günther Eichhorn
This article appears on page 21 of the February 2021 issue.
Map of Belize.

In November 2019, I visited Belize on a trip that concentrated on ancient civilizations and bird-watching. The trip was organized by Belize Travel Adventures (Kings land, TX; 512/913-5525, Costing $2,820, the 7-night trip included a private guide for most excursions and the short flight from Flores, in Guatemala, to Belize. Everything worked out very well.

Settling in

I flew into Belize City from Flores — I had been touring Guatemala prior to my departure (Jan. ’21, pg. 14) — on a small commuter plane. My guide picked me up at the airport, and we started our bird-watching immediately.

The drive from the airport to Black Rock Lodge (, where I would be staying, normally takes 2 to 2½ hours, but with stops for bird-watching, it took us over 6 hours. I took pictures of about 60 bird species during that drive.

The Black Rock Lodge is located in the mountains, close to the border with Guatemala in the western part of Belize. It sits at the end of a 10-mile dirt road, which means that every excursion from the lodge starts and ends with a bumpy 10-mile drive.

I stayed for four nights. It is a very nice lodge, with spacious cabins, but one afternoon I got quite a surprise when I returned to my cabin. A troop of army ants had invaded! When I informed reception, they weren’t concerned, saying they would likely be gone in less than an hour. Sure enough, when I came back an hour later, they were all gone.

Seeing the sites

On the first full day, I visited Caracol, the largest Maya site in Belize. I thought the 37-mile dirt road that led to the site would never end, but the drive was quite scenic, and we did quite a lot of birding along the way.

The Temple of the Masonry Altars in Altun Ha.

Caracol is an impressive site and was well worth visiting. The huge pyramid there, called Caana (Sky Place), is the highest Maya pyramid in Belize, at a height of 140 feet.

The next day I visited Xunantunich, a medium-sized Maya site, and Cahal Pech, one of the smallest, then, in the afternoon, a butterfly-and-hummingbird farm. I saw lots of hummingbirds flying around the feeder.

On the third day, after a one-hour hike down into a valley and back up, I explored the Che Chem Ha Cave, which contains several dozen Maya pots, some quite large.

That afternoon was dedicated to bird-watching. However, at one of the bird-watching sites, the mosquitoes were ravenous and it was quite uncomfortable, so we cut that visit short.

Next, I transferred to the Black Orchid Resort (, located in the eastern part of Belize, in the lowlands. All the excursions during my 3-night stay there were combined with bird-watching.

Included on the itinerary was Lamanai, reached by a one-hour boat ride, which had some very nice Maya pyramids. A small museum there provided information about the Maya culture.

The bird-watching in Belize was fantastic. Throughout my stay, I had real bird experts as guides, which made for a great experience.

A wedge-tailed sabrewing, a species of hummingbird.
A gray hawk, spotted on a birding excursion.