Every year, beginning in December, scarlet macaws migrate to Belize’s Stann Creek District to feed. These brilliantly colored birds fly all the way from their usual breeding grounds in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve to the village of Red Bank. It’s the sight of a lifetime, and to many, like renowned photographer Tony Rath, it signals the arrival of Belize’s holiday season.
About the Scarlet Macaw
Scarlet macaws are one of the most beautiful species of birds that can be found in Belize. Unfortunately, though, they’re also one of the most threatened thanks to years of poaching. It’s estimated that there are less than 250 of these colorful creatures in the country. According to the Belize Zoo, many have been taken as a commodity of the pet trade.
Luckily, Belize’s conservation and protection policies and efforts have begun to help these magnificent birds to thrive. They often fly in pairs or in small groups, and with their iconic red, yellow, and blue wings, they can fly at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
How can you spot a scarlet macaw in the wild in Belize? A hike through the rainforest surrounding Red Bank village is your best option.
Red Bank Village
See the brilliance of Belize’s scarlet macaws up close with a tour of Red Bank Village. This Maya village is located in the Stann Creek District, and borders the country’s southernmost district of Toledo. Hiking through the rainforest surrounding this tiny village isn’t the easiest of feats. So, it’s recommended that you hire a guide if you’re hoping to spot some wildlife.
The scarlet macaws begin appearing in numbers in Red Bank as early as December, but February and March are the best months to visit if you want to get a good glimpse of them. They can most often be seen along the river, alongside many other Belizean birds like the toucan, parrots, falcons, and hawks as well as other animals.
Not up for a trek through the forest? There are also scarlet macaws at the Belize Zoo, located near La Democracia village on the George Price Highway.
Feature Photo courtesy of Roni Martinez