Belize Big Day 2020 – A Backyard Challenge!

by Carolee Chanona

Belize is the perfect introduction to tropical birding. This time of year, pleasant weather and bright blooms combine for Spring migration of birds back to North America. And while Belize hosts numerous hotspots to see your pick of hummingbirds, raptors, and shorebirds, don’t miss how great urban birding can be. During stay at home orders, get familiar with your ‘yard birds’ and participate in Belize’s Big Day 2020. If you have a backyard, a balcony, or even a bird feeder, local birders are challenging you to participate in a Belize Big Day tomorrow, April 19th.

A “big day” in the birding world means counting as many birds as possible in 24 hours. With the COVID-19 pandemic and national quarantine orders for Belize, that means getting creative to go birdwatching. Birding can be more than just watching birds, but a relaxing form of meditation and stress relief. You don’t have to be an expert; it just makes you feel good. In the past, birding was just for people who had time and access to the rainforest. Today, we know birds can be seen anywhere – even from your backyard.

Urban Birding in Belize

Belize’s biggest event for urban birding is Belize Audubon Society’s annual Urban Bird Watch, a free 3-hour birding activity in every major constituency during October and November. Of Belize’s near 600 species of birds, plenty can be seen outside of the rural areas. During this birding challenge, report your sightings to eBird and contribute to citizen science. Below, you’ll find 10 of the most commonly seen birds in Belize to get familiar with.

Great-tailed Grackle
Social Flycatcher
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

10 Common Birds in Belize

  1. Great-tailed Grackle: The grackle is a large blackbird with a long tail, as the name implies. Males shimmer a deep purple in the sunlight while females are a rich brown.
  2. Blue-gray Tanager: This powdery small, blue-gray is widespread across Belize.
  3. Morelet’s Seedeater: A fairly common little bird of grassland and weedy areas, this seedeater was once known as white-collared which is one of its distinctive marks.
  4. Turkey Vulture: Usually seen soaring above in wobbly circles, the turkey vulture is a large, dark bird of prey with white marks on the tip of its wings and a red face.
  5. Ruddy-ground Dove: This overall brown bird has rusty wing patches in flight, even though they are often seen on the ground.
  6. White-winged Dove: This grayish-brown dove has a short, white-tipped tail and large white crescent along its wings.
  7. Great Kiskadee: This flycatcher has bright yellow underparts and a black-and-white striped crown. Its brown wing has a tint of rusty-red.
  8. Social Flycatcher: This noisy bird is similar but smaller to the kiskadee. Additionally, its brown wing is more dull compared to the kiskadee’s rust.
  9. House Wren: A familiar backyard bird, the unassuming brown wren was named long ago for its tendency to nest around homes or in birdhouses. It also sings a beautiful song.
  10. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird: This hummingbird feeds on flowers and feeders. Identify it by the rust on its tail, overall green body, and buff on its belly.

All photos by Francis Canto Jr. 

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