Best time to visit Belize

Birdwatching in Belize

Explore Belize's sancturies and cayes to spot some of the colorful tropical birds and more

Best time: all year round (best December–April)

Keel-billed toucan at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, Belmopan, Belize

Belize boasts an amazing variety of birds. It is home to over 600 avian species, largely thanks to a great selection of habitats: tropical jungle, savannahs, wetlands, and atolls. From colorful keel-billed toucans, yellow-headed Amazon parrot and scarlet macaw to egrets, eagles, and vultures—there's a lot to see at Belize's bird sanctuaries during any time of the year.

About 20% of Belize's avian kingdom are migratory birds vising the country during winter. Therefore, the dry season from December through April is considered to be the best time for bird-watching.

Since Belize is one of the least populated countries of Central America, birds can be spotted almost anywhere. If you stay at northern Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, its littoral forests and mangroves give shelter to a large variety of birds, like black catbird or white-crowned pigeon. Half-Moon Caye is the sanctuary for the large red-footed boobie population. Man-O-War Caye is home to brown boobies and frigates.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is among the best birdwatching sites in Belize. This 50,000-hectare area (123,552-acre) is home to the black-collared hawk, Montezuma's oropendola, keel-billed toucan, and the white-collared manakin.

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in the northwest of Belize covers vast wetlands, with about 300 avian species present, including parrots, woodpeckers, herons, storks, and black-collared hawks.

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

Finally, Caracol is not only the famous Mayan archeological site, it's also one of the best birding spots in Central America, where you can spot the legendary harpy eagle, one of the largest species of eagles in the world. Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is also famous for laughing falcons, warblers, blue black grossbeaks, great curassows, keel-billed motmots, and ocellated turkeys.

Practical info

What is the ideal time to go birdwatching in Belize?

Although bird sanctuaries in Belize are open year-round, you can spot more bird species from December to April when migratory birds visit. At this time, you can easily see birds such as the keel-billed toucan, yellow-headed Amazon parrot, and scarlet macaw compared to other times of the year. Show more

In what location is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary situated, and what are some of the bird species can you see while birdwatching there?

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Belize and covers an area of 50,000 hectares. It is one of the top birdwatching sites in Belize, home to various bird species. Some noteworthy birds to spot at the sanctuary include the Montezuma's oropendola, keel-billed toucan, black-collared hawk, and white-collared manakin. Show more

Which unique bird species can you spot while birdwatching in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary?

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary boasts about 300 avian species that live in the vast wetlands. The area is home to numerous bird species such as woodpeckers, parrots, herons, storks, and black-collared hawks. It is advisable to seek help from the local guides to know the precise place to spot the maximum birds. Show more

What is Caracol, and which unique bird species can you see while birdwatching in this area?

Caracol is a Mayan archeological site in Belize and one of the most preferred birdwatching sites. You can spot several distinct bird species during bird watching such as the harpy eagle, one of the world's largest eagles. Other birds that you can see are ocellated turkey, keel-billed motmot, great curassow, warblers, laughing falcons, and blue-black gross beaks. Show more

Are there any birdwatching places beyond the sanctuaries described in the article, in Belize?

Belize, with its diverse habitats ranging from tropical forests, wetlands to atolls, is a paradise for bird-watching enthusiasts. Besides the places mentioned in the article, other bird-watching destinations are Lamanai, Shipstern, and Bardenas Ecological House, situated in different areas of the country. To learn the best places to see your favorite bird species, it is useful to check with local guides. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen