Birding Soars Amid COVID-19

by Carolee Chanona

“The world of birds is so much more vibrant and active than I’d ever realized. Once I paid attention, it just hit me in the face.”

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing on, interest in bird-watching has soared as those indoors notice a fascinating world just outside their windows. In Belize, now is the perfect time to bird-watch as hundreds of species migrate back to America and Canada. This spike in migration gives new birders a front-row seat to one of nature’s greatest shows – birds in transit. With nearly 600 bird species and six internationally recognized Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), Belize is one of Central America’s premier birding destinations.

Start with free tools like eBird

In the months of April and May, birds are most active – and noisy – with migration. The birds don’t know about the COVID-19 pandemic, because nature waits for no one. Bird-watching is proven to make people feel relaxed and connected to nature, while lowering stress and anxiety – necessary during COVID-19. Free tools like National Audubon Society’s eBird app can help beginners get familiar with the birds in their backyard and neighborhood. Not to mention, downloads of the free bird identification app, Merlin ID, shot up 102% over the same time as last year, with 8,500 downloads on Easter weekend alone. Feeling inspired? Two of Belize’s expert birders, Roni Martinez and Francis Canto Jr., will be hosting a free session on eBird this coming Friday morning, just in time for the biggest day in birding.

birdwatching flycatcher
Boat-billed Flycatcher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Green Jay

Join Belize’s birding community

Visits to Cornell’s live bird cams have doubled, and uploads of bird photos and calls have increased 45% and 84%, respectively, on Cornell’s crowdsourced bird-logging free app, eBird. As such, the birding community is stronger than ever! This month, birders prepare for Global Big Day – an annual celebration of the birds around you, and this year during COVID-19 is no different. While not everyone may be able to go outside this year, you can still count birds from home. Join citizen science efforts on May 9th and be a part of a global birding community! To start, share what birds you (safely) see around you with eBird.

We may dream about seeing a jaguar in the wild, but if you’re not paying attention, you might miss Belize’s incredible birds. Get involved with a local birding club or citizen events with Belize Audubon Society. With over 85 ecosystems in country, Belize is the perfect introduction to tropical birding. The 3rd annual Belize Birding Festival has been postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, which just means you have plenty time to sharpen your birding skills. So whether you’re a beginner or avid birder, this is the event to immerse yourself in!

belize birding festival 2021

All photos courtesy of Aaron Juan.

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