Wildlife and Birds of Belize - Naturally Belize

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Belize Wildlife & Birds


Over half of Belize is primary forest which means there is unusual, rare and exciting wildlife living in the forest, with a number of species unique to Belize.

These large areas of tropical rainforest provide a huge diversity of species and opportunities to see animals living in their natural habitat.

The forest floor is home to peccaries (wild pig), deer and the unusual Baird's Tapir. The treetops provide food for troops of black howler monkeys and crocodiles can be found lurking in lagoons and rivers. The Jaguar and Puma are native to Belize, as well as lesser known cats such as Margay and Ocelot, but as they are nocturnal creatures sightings are rare.

The mangrove and sea grass on the coastline and cayes provide a feeding ground for the rare and elusive West Indian Manatee, and further offshore the Belize Barrier Reef hosts a vast array of tropical fish, nurse sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, whale sharks and other unusual marine species.


Belize is a birdwatchers paradise, over 500 species of bird have been recorded. Experts and novices alike can enjoy the birdlife as many of the jungle lodges offer early morning bird walks with enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides.

Belize's wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves provide undisturbed habitat that is home to many different species. Brightly coloured birds such as the beautiful Keel Billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Blue-crowned Motmot and Slaty-tailed Trogon can be found in the tropical forest.

Look out for Jabiru, Boat-billed heron, Snail Kites and American Pygmy kingfishers at lagoons, rivers and wetlands. Pelicans and frigate birds can be found on the coast and at the cayes and there is a sanctuary for red-footed boobies at Half Moon Caye.

The endangered Scarlet macaws can be found in the Chiquibil Forest Reserve and seasonally at Red Bank across the Maya Mountains.

Top 5 Belize Wildlife

Black Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey in Tree

Our favourite Belize animal is the loudest mammal on the planet. They can be found in the day in the treetops eating leaves in troops up to as many as 20. The male's loud howl marks their territory to neighboring troops, they can be heard up to 3 miles away and generally between dusk and dawn. The sound is eery, yet exhilarating and will be a memorable experience, especially if it wakes you in the night.

Likelihood to see: High in certain areas

Keel Billed Toucan

Keel Billed Toucan

The keel billed toucan is the national bird of Belize and can be spotted in Belize jungle. Its beautiful, bright coloured plumage and bill make it easier to spot than it's lesser known relative the Collared Aracari which is also prevalent in Belize. Listen out for its distinctive call that is a low croak.

Likelihood to see: Medium (High with binoculars and a guide)

West Indian Manatee


Large and gentle mammal that lives in shallow water in rivers, lagoons and along the coast of the mainland and its offshore cayes. They are herbivores and graze on the sea grass and mangrove leaves and weigh approx. 1,000 pounds. Manatees existence is increasingly threatened by the destruction of their habitat, but in Belize they have been protected for a long time. The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary was setup specifically to benefit them.

Likelihood to see: Medium with the right guide, they are rare and elusive.

Whale Shark

Whale Shark

These magnificent gentle giants are the largest fish on the planet, growing on average to 20 feet. They are only found in several areas of the planet and Belize is one of them. They filter feed off plankton and so pose less threat to humans than vice versa. Once a year they gather off the coast of Placencia in Southern Belize to feed off spawning snapper. The best times to see them are around the full moon between March and June.

Likelihood to see: Medium to low - may take a few trips to the reef to spot them and a bit of luck

Scarlet Macaws
Scarlet Macaws flying

These beautiful brightly coloured birds are endangered in Belize due to loss of habitat. However, an estimated population of 100 can be seen at the Mayan village of Red Bank, between January and March, when they come to feed on the ripe fruit of the Annato and 'pole wood' trees. Their sheer size means they can be seen from a distance with the naked eye.

Likelihood to see: Medium - With binoculars, guide and timing.