With more than 600 different bird species recorded in Belize, it can be difficult to decide a top 10 list of the most beautiful. Belize's pristine landscapes of mountain forests, wetlands, offshore islands, rainforests, and jungle make it an ideal location for birds to thrive, including several rare and endangered species.
Here is our list of the top 10 most gorgeous birds in Belize:
1 – Jabiru Stork
Probably the most iconic bird in Belize, the Jabiru stork is unmissable as it stands five feet (1.5 meters) tall and has a wingspan of nine feet (2.7 meters). With a white body, red band around its neck, and black head and bill, the Jabiru stork prefers to hunt in wetland areas.
2 – Keel-billed Toucan
Familiar to millions of people in its cartoon form as a mascot for a popular breakfast cereal, the keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize. The keel-billed toucan has a black body with an area of bright, neon yellow plumage on its chest and a large, multicolored beak idea for cracking nuts and snacking on fruit.
Interestingly, the keel-billed toucan emits a steady croaking sound that is very similar to a frog. Toucans are very social birds and found throughout the country.
3 – Blue-crowned Motmot
With plumage in dusky blues, grays, and oranges, the blue-crowned motmot is distinguishable by the neon blue stripes on its head. Ranging between 11-18 inches (28-45 cm) in length, the motmot is found across Belize, preferring the middle and upper regions of the rainforest canopy.
4 – Harpy Eagle
One of the most powerful predators in the Western Hemisphere, harpy eagles are big enough to capture and eat full-grown monkeys. Harpy eagles have a wingspan of up to seven feet (2.1 meters) and can weigh up to 20 pounds (nine kilograms).
Harpy eagle populations were on the decline in past decades, but conservation efforts by the Belize Zoo have successfully increased the number of harpy eagles found in the wild.
5 – Scarlet Macaw
Even a complete amateur at birdwatching can instantly recognize the scarlet macaw. Often used in Hollywood movies as the parrot that perches on a pirate's shoulder, the scarlet macaw is a member of the parrot family and has brilliant red, yellow, and blue plumage.
6 – Red-footed Booby
A seabird that is primarily found on the offshore islands of the Belize Barrier Reef. Red-footed boobies have variable colored plumage, a light blue beak, and, just as the name suggests, adults have bright red feet. Red-footed boobies subsist primarily on flying fish, catching them on the wing as red-footed boobies are spectacular fliers.
7 – Magnificent Frigatebird
Another seabird that thrives on the offshore islands, the magnificent frigatebird earns its appellation due to the male members of the species' enormous red throat sac that it inflates during mating season.
8 – King Vulture
Often given a bad rap, the king vulture plays an important role in Belize's ecosystem. Locally known as "king jan kro," the king vulture is primarily found in forested lowland areas.
9 – Vermillion Flycatcher
This tiny bird is instantly recognizable due to its neon red chest and head plumage. Preferring open areas near wetlands or savannah, vermillion flycatchers feed primarily on insects.
10 – Great Egret
Graceful on land and on the wing, the great egret forages in shallow waters, using its powerful beak to spear snails, fish, shellfish, and even reptiles.