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Belize Adventure Travel Blog

Adventure Blog

Belize Bird Watching – Invading their Privacy & Learning      

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“I have to thank Abel, and his assistant whose name I can't recall, a young woman - the 2 of them were leading the morning bird walk around your grounds on March 30. They knew a toucan nest was in a particular tree, and she tapped the tree with a rock to get them to come out. They popped out, saw that it was a great day, and got all lovey-dovey right above us. We did the bird walk twice, it was excellent. As a biologist I really appreciated the natural setting, and wildlife and diverse plants around the lodge - real biodiversity, not just "manicured greenery".”

Belize Bird Watching - Toucans
(Photot by: Greg R. Pohl)

This message is from Greg R. Pohl, a great photographer who visited Caves Branch and took lots of lovely pictures while on several adventure tours. Here is one he captured while birding in Belize:

Did you know that most birds do not have the same reproductive systems as other animals?

  • Both male and female have a cloaca which is also called the vent. This serves as the exit for feces, urine, eggs and also serves as the connection for the male & female to fertilize the egg.
  • The positions and postures birds assume to mate can vary somewhat, but the most common is for the male bird to balance on top of the female. The female may hunch or bow to give the male easier balance.
  • She will then move her tail aside to expose her cloaca to his reach, and he will arch his body so his cloaca can touch hers.
  • The brief rubbing of cloacas may last less than a second, but the sperm is transferred quickly during this "cloacal kiss" and the mating is complete.

Important Notes for Visitors:

  • If you see mating birds, it is best to keep your distance – approaching more closely may spook the birds and force them to leave, which can interrupt their courtship or hurt their bond.
  • Too much attention can distress parent birds; this will force the abandonment of nest or hatchlings. It can also attract predators to the nest.
  • If they are severely disturbed, they may leave their carefully chosen territory and be forced to relocate to a less suitable area that may not provide for all their hatchlings' needs.

It is exciting to see birds mate and it serves as a reminder of how special birding can be. Now that you understand how birds mate, birders can better realize what unique behaviors they see in the field and can take steps to protect the nesting birds and their young.

Click here to learn more.

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