Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge Mar 03—10, 2018

Posted by Barry Zimmer


Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in North and Central America, but his travels have taken him throughout much of the wo...

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On the last evening of our tour, as we were doing our final checklist session, Emil, the bartender at Chan Chich Lodge, approached me and in a quiet voice said, “Would your group like to see a Spectacled Owl?” With an emphatic, “Oh my god, of course!”, we poured out of the bar to the driveway outside, where Emil shined his light on a tree right next to the road, illuminating a fabulous Spectacled Owl. I ran to my cabana to get a scope, while others went back for binoculars. The owl remained, and at one point dropped down and grabbed a small prey item along the driveway. We watched this amazing bird for nearly five minutes before it flew off into the darkness of the night.  Moments later this bird was voted the favorite bird of the tour by our group. This was certainly one of the more memorable tour endings I can recall!

Spectacled Owl

Spectacled Owl— Photo: Barry Zimmer


Such are the possibilities on our Best of Belize tour. We began our trip with two days of birding around Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and Belize City. The first morning we scoured the pine/oak savanna and wetlands around the village of Crooked Tree. We had excellent luck locating two special regional endemics, the Yucatan Woodpecker and Yucatan Jay, as well as many other great birds including a nesting colony of Boat-billed Herons, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Laughing Falcon, a female Green-breasted Mango on a nest, Masked Tityra, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Spot-breasted Wren, Grayish Saltator, and Black-cowled Oriole among others. Vermilion Flycatchers seemed to be on every fence post. Flashy Northern Jacanas were prominent on every patch of water. A Limpkin strolled by in front of our group, while Snail Kites sailed past. Mangrove Swallows perched just feet away, and a Yellow-throated Warbler flitted about the dining room at lunch. Crooked Tree is a spectacularly birdy place. En route back to Belize City, we paused for a very close Bare-throated Tiger-Heron right next to the highway, and ferreted out a “Mangrove” Warbler near the municipal airport. A late afternoon walk by our hotel yielded Cinnamon Hummingbird and Common Tody-Flycatcher, while Magnificent Frigatebirds sailed overhead.

Read Barry’s full report in his Field Report.