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10 - 18 January 1997

by Kevin C. Loughlin

This was a very successful endeavor with 200 species in seven full days of birding (plus the time to/from the airport.  This tour was ONLY the northern areas of Belize, so none of the usual southern species were found (e.g.  Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, etc.)

We stayed at the Paradise Inn in Crooked Tree Village for four nights in order to explore the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding areas.

From hear we visited the Ruins of Lamanai and Chau Hiix as well as the Community Baboon Sanctuary and Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Rudy Crawford owns and operates the Paradise Inn and treats all visitors as family.  The accommodations are small, simple and reasonably priced and the food is great!  And best of all is Glenn Crawford, a self taught naturalist, and in my opinion the best and most enthusiastic birding guide in all of Belize.  He is also expert in all flora and fauna of Belize.  In fact, when he joined us at the Rio Bravo area for the first time, he and the local flora expert got into a "name the tree (including Latin, common, Creole and Mayan names)" duel!  It was great!  Kinda like watching Jeopardy in person!

The next three nights were spent at the La Milpa Research Station in the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area (RBCMA) in northwest Belize.  This property lies just north of Gallon Jug (Chan Chich Lodge) in the same forest tract.  However, the cost of accommodations is much lower and includes a guide each day as well as all meals.  There are several ongoing projects at the station that include the La Milpa Maya site (where the full skeleton of a king, adorned in jade necklaces was found in 1996), sustainable forest products, and many others.

Birding highlights each day are as follows:

Day 1: Entrance to Crooked Tree Sanctuary- Vermilion Flycatchers (m & f), Tropical and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Limpkin, Glossy Ibis and a Chachalaca all near the visitors center in the matter of a few minutes.

Day 2: Lamanai- White-whiskered Puffbirds (m & f) offering long, close views for everyone, and a little further down the trail a rarely seen Black-faced Antthrush.

Day 3: Road to Community Baboon Sanctuary- Four Laughing Falcons fly overhead and land on a nearby tree and continue for an hour to call to each other.  At the Sanctuary- a Bat Falcon swoops repeatedly from his perch to catch large insects.

Monkey Bay Sanctuary- A Black Hawk-eagle with a Basalisk (lizard) in talons flies over our heads and lands on a nearby dead tree to feast.

Day 4: Paradise Inn- After a long, drenching rain, a Bare-throated Tiger-heron dries itself in the sun near the porch of the main cabana, an Ivory-billed Woodcreeper climbed about on the Bullet Trees, a Royal Flycatcher and a Bright-rumped Attila in the back yard as well as a Crane Hawk search all the bromiliads for a meal...  ignoring us as it flew low over our heads several times.

Day 5: Paradise Inn (as we were packing the truck to leave)- a Green Vine Snake grabbed a Squirrel Cuckoo for its meal (not sure if that was a highlight or a lowlight, but it was exciting!)

Along the Old Northern Highway on our way to the RBCMA- A pair of Masked Tityras, Barred Ant-shrike (m & f ), Plain Xenops, Yellow-winged Tanagers, Hooded and Black-cowled Orioles, and Scrub Euphonias all in a 100 foot stretch of road.

Day 6: RBCMA- three Keel-billed Toucans in a low Cecropia Tree near a Currasow -Crest Vine in bloom that hosted Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, White-necked Jacobins, Hooded, Baltimore and Black-cowled and Yellow-backed Orioles, Yellow-throated and Olive-backed Euphonias and Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers.  Then on the road to the La Milpa ruins, an Ornate Hawk-eagle.  Spotlighting in the evening we got a Northern Potoo and a Mottled Owl.

 Day 7: RBCMA- a large mixed flock following the army ants--Ruddy, Barred, Olivacious, Ivory-billed and Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, White-bellied Wood-wrens, and Gray-headed Tanagers feasted on the fleeing insects.  Spotlighting that night we got EIGHT Mottled Owls and two Great Currasow.

Day 8: RBCMA- Ornate Hawk-eagle

Day 9: Unfortunately no time to bird as we had to catch our flight home.

Trip List, 200 species, 12 lifers for me (**=lifer for me, H=heard only, HG=heard with glimpses):

Acorn Woodpecker
Amazon Kingfisher
American Coot
American Kestrel
American Pygmy Kingfisher
American Redstart
Aplomado Falcon
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Barn Swallow
Barred Antshrike
Barred Woodcreeper
Bat Falcon
Belted Kingfisher
Black Catbird
Black Hawk-Eagle
Black Vulture
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Black-collared Hawk
Black-cowled Oriole
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-faced Antthrush **
Black-faced Grosbeak
Black-headed Saltator
Black-headed Trogon
Black-necked Stilt
Blue Bunting
Blue Ground-Dove
Blue-black Grassquit
Blue-crowned Motmot
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Tanager
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Warbler
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Boat-billed Heron
Bright-rumped Attila **
Bronzed Cowbird
Brown Jay
Brown-hooded Parrot
Cattle Egret
Chimney Swift
Clay-colored Robin
Collared Aracari
Common Black-Hawk
Common Moorhen
Common Potoo
Common Snipe
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Common Yellowthroat
Crane Hawk **
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Eastern Meadowlark
Fork-tailed Emerald
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Glossy Ibis
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Gray Catbird
Gray Hawk
Gray-breasted Martin
Gray-headed Tanager
Gray-necked Wood-Rail
Grayish Saltator
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Curassow
Great Egret
Great Kiskadee
Great-tailed Grackle
Greater Yellowlegs
Green Heron
Green Honeycreeper
Greenish Elaenia
Groove-billed Ani
Hooded Oriole
House Wren
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
Keel-billed Toucan
Kentucky Warbler **
Laughing Falcon
Least Flycatcher
Least Grebe
Least Sandpiper
Lesser Greenlet
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Lineated Woodpecker
Little Blue Heron
Little Hermit
Magnificent Frigatebird
Magnolia Warbler
Mangrove Swallow
Mangrove Vireo
Masked Tityra
Mealy Parrot
Melodious Blackbird
Montezuma Oropendola
Mottled Owl
Muscovy Duck
Neotropic Cormorant
Northern Bentbill
Northern Cardinal
Northern Jacana
Northern Oriole
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Ocellated Turkey
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Olive-backed Euphonia
Olive-throated Parakeet
Orchard Oriole
Ornate Hawk-Eagle **
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Pale-vented Pigeon
Peregrine Falcon
Pied-billed Grebe
Plain Chachalaca
Plain Xenops **
Purple Gallinule
Red-capped Manakin
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Red-lored Parrot
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Red-vented Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird
Ringed Kingfisher
Roadside Hawk
Rose-throated Becard
Royal Flycatcher
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Ruddy Woodcreeper
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Rufous-breasted Spinetail HG
Rufous-browed Peppershrike H
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Scrub Euphonia
Short-billed Pigeon
Slaty-breasted Tinamou H
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Snail Kite
Snowy Egret
Social Flycatcher
Spot-breasted Wren
Spotted Sandpiper
Squirrel Cuckoo
Strong-billed Woodcreeper
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher
Summer Tanager
Tawny-collared Nightjar **
Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Thrushlike Manakin **
Tree Swallow
Tricolored Heron
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Tropical Mockingbird
Turkey Vulture
Variable Seedeater
Vaux's Swift
Vermilion Flycatcher
Violaceous Trogon
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
White Ibis
White-bellied Wren **
White-breasted Wood-Wren
White-collared Manakin
White-collared Seedeater
White-crowned Parrot
White-eyed Vireo
White-fronted Parrot
White-necked Jacobin
White-tailed Hawk **
White-tailed Kite
White-tipped Dove
White-whiskered Puffbird **
Wood Stork
Wood Thrush
Worm-eating Warbler **
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-backed Oriole
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Yellow-billed Cacique
Yellow-breasted Chat
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-headed Parrot
Yellow-lored Parrot
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-winged Tanager
Yucatan Flycatcher **

Kevin C. Loughlin

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