Belize shelters 19% of migrant birds

Friday, 16 June 2006

The Magnolia warbler and many other birds visit Belize to hibernate

The Birds Without Borders – Aves Sin Fronteras? (BWB-ASF) project has been doing bird research, education and conservation in Belize since 1997.

The group is sponsored by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, Inc. both of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

We are proud to have worked closely with the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center on many aspects of the BWB-ASF project.

To learn more about birds found in forests along the rivers of central Belize, BWB-ASF studied birds in a forest on the Sibun River.

The study took place on the Runaway Creek Nature Preserve, which is located on the Coastal Road near the Belize Zoo and is owned and managed by the FWC.

Over a four-year period, BWB-ASF found 196 bird species in a small area of riverine forest (49 acres).

Amazingly, that’s 34% of the total bird species found in Belize! Most of the birds we found (77%) were familiar residents that live in Belize year-round, like the Plain chachalaca, Spot-breasted wren, and Yellow-tailed oriole.

But 19% of the birds that BWB-ASF found were migrants that travel 1,500 miles (or more!) to spend northern winters in Belize, like the Gray catbird, Wood thrush and Magnolia warbler.

The group found that 19 species of conservation concern (birds that need special protection), such as the Red-lored parrot and Worm-eating warbler, used this forest.

Another exciting discovery was that the Sibun riverine forest was home to five restricted-range endemics (birds found only in a certain area), such as the Gray-throated chat.

The Jabiru stork, one of Belize’s largest and most beautiful birds and also a species of special conservation concern, nested in the study area every year. Preserving the forests along the Sibun River will help all of these birds.

Even more birds will benefit if the forests found along Belize’s other rivers are preserved. (A paper summarizing this research will be published in the journal Ornitolog?a Neotropical later this year.

(Press Release)

Last Updated ( Friday, 16 June 2006 )

Wendy Auxillou
Auxillou Beach Suites
Caye Caulker, Belize