List of birds of Belize

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Keel-billed toucan, the national bird of Belize

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Belize which consists of the birds on the mainland of Belize and around 450 smaller cays and islands lying in the Caribbean Sea. The avifauna of Belize include a total of 590 species, of which two are globally endangered and four have been introduced by humans.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total species counts for Belize.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. The commonly occurring, native, species do not fall into any of these categories.

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Belize
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Belize as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions


Table of contents

Non-passerines: Tinamous • Grebes • Shearwaters • Storm petrels • Tropicbirds • Pelicans • Boobies • Cormorants • Darters • Frigatebirds • Bitterns, herons and egrets • Storks • Ibises and spoonbills • Flamingos • Ducks and geese • New World vultures • Osprey • Hawks, kites and eagles • Caracaras and falcons • Chachalacas, guans and curassows • Turkeys • New World quails • Limpkins • Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots • Sungrebe • Jacanas • Oystercatchers • Avocets and stilts • Plovers • Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes • Skuas and jaegers • Gulls, terns and skimmers • Pigeons and doves • Parakeets and parrots • Cuckoos, roadrunners and anis • Barn owls • Typical owls • Potoos • Nightjars • Swifts • Hummingbirds • Trogons and quetzals • Water kingfishers • Motmots • Jacamars • Puffbirds • Toucans • Woodpeckers and sapsuckers

Passerines: Ovenbirds • Woodcreepers • Antbirds • Antthrushes • Cotingas and pihas • Manakins • Tyrant flycatchers • Tityras and becards • Swallows and martins • Waxwings • Wrens • Mockingbirds • Thrushes, solitaires and bluebirds • Gnatcatchers • Jays and ravens • Vireos • New World warblers • Bananaquit • Tanagers • American sparrows, yellow-finches and seed-eaters • Cardinals, saltators, grosbeaks and North American buntings • Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles, orioles, caciques and oropendolas • Fringilline finches, cardueline finches and allies • Old World sparrows • Munias

See also        References

Tinamous[edit]

Order: Tinamiformes. Family: Tinamidae

Great tinamou

The tinamous are one of the most ancient groups of bird. Although they look similar to other ground-dwelling birds like quail and grouse, they have no close relatives and are classified as a single family, Tinamidae, within their own order, the Tinamiformes. They are distantly related to the ratites (order Struthioniformes), that includes the rheas, emus and kiwis.

Grebes[edit]

Order: Podicipediformes. Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.

Shearwaters[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary.

Storm petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Hydrobatidae

Tropicbirds[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.

Pelicans[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.

Boobies[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Sulidae

Red-footed booby

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Cormorants[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage coloration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white, and a few being colorful.

Darters[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Anhingidae

Darters are often called "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving.

Frigatebirds[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Fregatidae

Magnificent frigatebird

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black-and-white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable colored throat pouches. They are usually red. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.

Bitterns, herons and egrets[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ardeidae

Reddish egret

The Ardeidae family contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted.

Storks[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Ciconiidae

Jabiru

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes. Family: Threskiornithidae

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.

Flamingos[edit]

Order: Phoenicopteriformes. Family: Phoenicopteridae

Caribbean flamingo

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down.

Ducks and geese[edit]

Order: Anseriformes. Family: Anatidae

Blue-winged teal

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.

New World vultures[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Cathartidae

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carrion.

Osprey[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Pandionidae

Osprey

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Hawks, kites and eagles[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Accipitridae

White-tailed kite
Immature harpy eagle

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.

Caracaras and falcons[edit]

Order: Falconiformes. Family: Falconidae

Northern caracara

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.

Chachalacas, guans and curassows[edit]

Order: Galliformes. Family: Cracidae

The Cracidae are large birds, similar in general appearance to turkeys. The guans and curassows live in trees, but the smaller chachalacas are found in more open scrubby habitats. They are generally dull-plumaged, but the curassows and some guans have colorful facial ornaments.

Turkeys[edit]

Order: Galliformes. Family: Meleagrididae

Ocellated turkey

Turkeys are similar to large pheasants but have a distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the beak, called a snood.

New World quails[edit]

Order: Galliformes. Family: Odontophoridae

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits.

Limpkins[edit]

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Aramidae

The limpkin resembles a large rail. It has drab brown plumage and a grayer head and neck.

Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Rallidae

Sora
Purple gallinule

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.

Sungrebe[edit]

Order: Gruiformes. Family: Heliornithidae

Heliornithidae is a small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots.

Jacanas[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Jacanidae

The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found throughout the tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.

Oystercatchers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Haematopodidae

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs.

Avocets and stilts[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Recurvirostridae

American avocet

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.

Plovers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Charadriidae

Semipalmated plover

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions.

Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Scolopacidae

Upland sandpiper
Red knot

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with gray or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.

Gulls, terns and skimmers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Laridae

Laughing gull
Roseate tern

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes gullskittiwakes, terns and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have longish bills and webbed feet.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes. Family: Columbidae

White-tipped dove

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Parakeets and parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes. Family: Psittacidae

Red-lored amazon

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back.

Cuckoos and anis[edit]

Order: Cuculiformes. Family: Cuculidae

Groove-billed ani

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites.

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes. Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Typical owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes. Family: Strigidae

Spectacled owl

The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.

Potoos[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes. Family: Nyctibiidae

The potoos (sometimes called poor-me-ones) are large near passerine birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. They are nocturnal insectivores which lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars.

Nightjars[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes. Family: Caprimulgidae

Chuck-will's-widow

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.

Swifts[edit]

Order: Apodiformes. Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang.

Hummingbirds[edit]

Order: Trochiliformes. Family: Trochilidae

White-necked jacobin
Long-billed starthroat

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Trogons and quetzals[edit]

Order: Trogoniformes. Family: Trogonidae

The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colorful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage.

Water kingfishers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes. Family: Alcedinidae

Water kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.

Motmots[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes. Family: Momotidae

Blue-crowned motmot

The motmots have colorful plumage and long, graduated tails, which they display by waggling back and forth. In most of the species, the barbs near the ends of the two longest (central) tail feathers are weak and fall off, leaving a length of bare shaft and creating a racket-shaped tail.

Jacamars[edit]

Order: Piciformes. Family: Galbulidae

The jacamars are near passerine birds from tropical South America, with a range that extends up to Mexico. They feed on insects caught on the wing, and are glossy, elegant birds with long bills and tails. In appearance and behavior they show resemblances to the Old World bee-eaters, although they are more closely related to woodpeckers.

Puffbirds[edit]

Order: Piciformes. Family: Bucconidae

The puffbirds are related to the jacamars and have the same range, but lack the iridescent colors of that family. They are mainly brown, rufous or gray, with large heads and flattened bills with hooked tips. The loose abundant plumage and short tails makes them look stout and puffy, giving rise to the English common name of the family.

Toucans[edit]

Order: Piciformes. Family: Ramphastidae

Toucans are near passerine birds from the neotropics. They are brightly marked and have enormous, colorful bills which in some species may amount to half their body length. The keel-billed toucan is the National Bird.

Woodpeckers and sapsuckers[edit]

Order: Piciformes. Family: Picidae

Acorn woodpecker

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks.

Ovenbirds[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Furnariidae

Ovenbirds comprise a large family of small sub-oscine passerine bird species found in Central and South America. They are a diverse group of insectivores which gets its name from the elaborate "oven-like" clay nests built by some species, although others build stick nests or nest in tunnels or clefts in rock.

Woodcreepers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Dendrocolaptidae

The Dendrocolaptidae are brownish birds which maintain an upright vertical posture, supported by their stiff tail vanes. They feed mainly on insects taken from tree trunks.

Antbirds[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Thamnophilidae

The antbirds are a large family of small passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. They are forest birds which tend to feed on insects at or near the ground. A sizable minority of them specialize in following columns of army ants to eat small invertebrates that leave their hiding places to flee from the ants. Many species lack bright color; brown, black and white being the dominant tones.

Antthrushes[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Formicariidae Antthrushes resemble small rails with strong, longish legs, very short tails and stout bills.

Cotingas and pihas[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Cotingidae

The cotingas are birds of forests or forest edges in tropical South America. Comparatively little is known about this diverse group, although all have broad bills with hooked tips, rounded wings and strong legs. The males of many of the species are brightly colored, or decorated with plumes or wattles.

Manakins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Pipridae

White-collared manakin

The manakins are a family of subtropical and tropical mainland Central and South America, and Trinidad and Tobago. They are compact forest birds, the males typically being brightly colored, although the females of most species are duller and usually green-plumaged. Manakins feed on small fruits, berries and insects.

Tyrant flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Tyrannidae

Yellow-bellied flycatcher
Black phoebe
Tropical kingbird
Eastern kingbird

Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, have plain coloring. As the name implies, most are insectivorous.

Tityras and becards[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Tityridae

Swallows and martins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Hirundinidae

Tree swallow

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. These adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.

Waxwings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.

Wrens[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Troglodytidae

Carolina wren
Sedge wren

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous.

Mockingbirds[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Mimidae

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their coloring tends towards dull-grays and browns.

Thrushes, solitaires and bluebirds[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Turdidae

Eastern bluebird

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground.

Gnatcatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Polioptilidae

These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their build and habits, moving restlessly through the foliage seeking insects. The gnatcatchers and gnatwrens are mainly soft bluish gray in color, and have the typical insectivore's long sharp bill. They are birds of fairly open woodland or scrub, which nest in bushes or trees.

Jays and ravens[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Corvidae

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.

Vireos[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Vireonidae

Blue-headed vireo

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills.

New World warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Parulidae

Prairie warbler
American redstart
Common yellowthroat
Wilson's warbler

The New World warblers are a group of small, often colorful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.

Bananaquit[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Coerebidae

The bananaquit is a small passerine bird. It has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers and is the only member of the genus Coereba and is normally placed within the family Coerebidae, although there is uncertainty whether that placement is correct.

Tanagers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Thraupidae

Summer tanager
Western tanager
Blue-gray tanager

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly colored. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings.

American sparrows, yellow-finches and seed-eaters[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Emberizidae

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns.

Variable seedeater

Cardinals, saltators, grosbeaks and North American buntings[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Cardinalidae

Rose-breasted grosbeak

The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages.

Blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles, orioles, caciques and oropendolas[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Icteridae

Baltimore oriole
Montezuma oropendola

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red.

Fringilline finches, cardueline finches and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Fringillidae

Red crossbills

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well.

Old World sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Passeridae

House sparrow

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or gray birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects.

Munias[edit]

Order: Passeriformes. Family: Estrildidae

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Lepage, Denis. "Belize checklist". Bird Checklists of the World. Avibase. Retrieved 23 April 2007. 
  • H Lee Jones (2003). Birds of Belize. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 317. ISBN 0-292-70164-0. 

External links[edit]

  • Birds of Belize Birdlist, multi-lingual website by country with standardized codes for abundance and seasonal presence.

Further reading[edit]