Most Colorful Birds

There are many attractions in Belize that are worth placing on the top of your travel checklist. The charming islands, the ancient Mayan Temples, and the lush rainforest are just a few examples, but there’s one attraction often overlooked: the wide variety of birds that can be seen across the  country. According to the book "Birds of Belize", there are approximately 574 known species of birds found in the country. After consulting with a local birding enthusiast, we’ve compiled our list for “The 10 Most Colorful Birds of Belize”.

Royal Flycatcher

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

Commonly found in mainland Belize, the Royal Flycatcher is easily recognized by the red feathery display, yellowish-orange for females, tipped with a blue-violet color found on the crown of its head. This exotic display generally lies flat except during courtship, while mating, during competition over territory or while being engaged.

Olive-backed Euphonia

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

As its name implies, the Olive-backed Euphonia is an olive-colored bird, with a bright yellow forehead and chestnut brown belly region for males, and a chestnut brown forehead with a yellow olive colored belly for females. They are generally found in Northern Orange Walk and Belize and are known to make dashing flights to capture flying insects.

Scarlet Macaw

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

The Scarlet Macaw is an elegantly large bird, characterized by its scarlet red feathers, blue flight feathers, yellow wing coverts, massive beak and large pointed tail. While you are able to observe this colorful bird at the Belize Zoo, adventurers may also catch a glimpse near the Macal River or near the Cockscomb Basin in Stann Creek from January to March.

Red-capped Manakin

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

Measuring at about 4 inches in length, the Red-capped Manakin is a small, chunky bird, with a large head and a short tail. The males sport a jet-black body, red feathered head and yellow thighs, while the females are less distinctive with a green feathered body, small stature and large head. If you are traversing mainland Belize, you may able to see a few of these.

Common Tody Flycatcher

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

The Common Tody Flycatcher is a very small bird, measuring 3 ¾ inches, and is distinguishable by its jet-black face and wings, yellow underparts and a hint of olive on its upperparts. Commonly found in open areas with large trees on mainland Belize and Ambergris Caye, these birds have a peculiar habit of wagging its tail from side to side.

Black-headed Trogon

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

The Black-headed Trogon can be identified by its yellow underparts, powder-blue eye ring, black tail with white tips; the males sporting a black head and chest, blueish-green back and violet rump, while the females sport a dark gray chest. These species of Trogons are residents of mainland Belize and Ambergris Caye, and occasional visitors to Caye Caulker during the months of December to February.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

The small, yet vibrant Vermilion Flycatcher of the tyrant flycatcher family is identified by its red crown and underparts and an upperpart and “mask” dark brown in color for males, and a paler grayish-brown for females. This brightly colored bird can be found perched on low tree branches or shrubs in the Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo and Toledo Districts, as well as the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

Keel-billed Toucan

Photo Courtesy: Nature Worldwide

The most well-known bird in Belize is the national bird, the Keel-billed Toucan. This magnificent bird has striking black feathers, a yellow throat and chest, green eye ring, red and white undertail and overtail feathers, and a large green bill with shades of red, orange and turquoise. While you can easily see one at the Belize Zoo, there’s the possibility of seeing one flying or perched on a branch in mainland Belize. 

Purple Gallinule

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

Arguably one of the most colorful birds in Belize, the Purple Gallinule sports a glossy violet head and underparts, green back and rump, a hint of turquoise sheen on its wing, orange legs and feet, and posses a red bill with a yellow tip.  Search carefully enough and you may be able to see one dashing for cover in the southern portion of the country, or spot one on the islands. 

Mangrove Warbler

Photo Courtesy: Francis Canto

The cheerfully singing Mangrove Warbler measures just under 5 inches and can physically recognized by its yellow chest and under tail, and prominent chestnut brown hood and fine streaks on its chest. These chipper birds are commonly found among mangroves along the mainland coast, on the cayes and in portions of the Toldeo District.

We take this time to thanks Mr. Francis Canto, a local birding enthusiast, photographer and IT Assistant of Maya Island Air, for his generous photo contributions to this article. While only an amateur birder, Mr. Canto has grown to appreciate the various species of birds in Belize for their beauty, diversity and quirkiness.

Whether you’re a birder, an adventurer, a tourist, or simply a local, you’re sure to be delighted to catch a glimpse of one of these colorful birds when traveling Belize.

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