Belize: Birds and Butterflies: Mar 16—24, 2008

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Departs: Belize City
Tour Limit: 8
Operations Manager: Edna Murray
Download Itinerary: PDF (89.2 KB)

Tour Leaders

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Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien is a freelance artist, author, and environmental consultant living in Cape M...


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Zebra Hairstreak

Zebra Hairstreak — Photo: Michael O'Brien

An exciting introduction to natural history exploration in the Neotropics, visiting a wide diversity of habitats and one of the finest jungle lodges in the world; many Yucatan and Central American specialties.

Our tour, which will sample much of this charming country's diverse habitats, will begin at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary where a boat ride through the lagoon may produce such exciting birds as Boat-billed and Agami herons, Jabiru, Black-collared Hawk, and American Pygmy-Kingfisher. Nearby pine savannah and broadleaf forest host a long list of birds, including the stunning Yucatan Jay. W will also tour the magnificent Mayan ruins of Altun Ha and Lamanai.

A short flight to the west will take us to an entirely different world. Chan Chich Lodge, arguably the finest jungle lodge in Central America, is situated on the main plaza of an ancient Mayan ceremonial site. Here, in the midst of the largest tract of unbroken forest north of the Amazon, howler monkeys roar, troops of spider monkeys crash through treetops, jaguars prowl along quiet forest trails, and sounds of tinamous and woodcreepers echo through the forest. Because of the remoteness of Chan Chich, and the fact that there has been no hunting here for decades, the abundance and diversity of wildlife we'll experience is simply amazing. The very rare Ocellated Turkey is more common here than anywhere else, and such sought-after species as Ornate Hawk-Eagle and Tody Motmot are found regularly. This pristine natural history juxtaposed with comfortable accommodations, fine food, and incredibly friendly service makes Chan Chich something close to paradise.

Gold-edged Giant-Owl

Gold-edged Giant-Owl— Photo: Michael O'Brien

Among the long list of special birds we'll look for on this tour, highlights may include Yellow-lored Parrot, Northern Potoo, Canivet's Emerald, Yucatan Woodpecker, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Yucatan Flycatcher, Gray-throated Chat, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, and Rose-throated Tanager.

Butterflying in Belize is always interesting and often challenging. In March, freshly-emerged swallowtails and sulphurs begin puddling in large numbers, Yellow-fronted and Yellow-bordered Owl-Butterflies and Common Morphos flit through the forest, a wide variety of heliconians, crescents, and other "brushfoots" seek nectar in forest clearings, and a confusing array of skippers will either make us hit the books or call it siesta time!

Excellent accommodations and food; pools at two locations; two boat trips; moderate walking on level to slightly hilly terrain; easy to skip outings for those who want a more relaxed pace; warm, humid climate.

Richard K. Walton’s DVD, The New World Tropics, An Introduction for Naturalists, includes visits to several of the finest lodges and field stations in Belize, Costa Rica, and Trinidad. If you would like to receive a free copy of this excellent, hour-long presentation, please contact the VENT office.