Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize

31 March – 2 April, 2017

As I near the end of my five months in Central America, I visit Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a lagoon in Belize famous for harboring multitudes of birds in early spring. Most of these birds are North American migrants staging for their migration back north. Just like the migrants, I am staging for my flight back north as well.

For three days, I intensively bird the sanctuary by canoe and foot. In the process, I meet friendly local birders and even an enthusiastic young birder. Two of the birders (Francis Canto and Ernaldo Bustamante), are kind enough to show me the elusive Pinnated Bittern. Below is a selection of my favorite images.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)
Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)


Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Pinnated Bittern (Botaurus pinnatus)
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum)
Wood Storks (Mycteria americana)
Fledgling and adult female Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus obscurus)
Fledgling Vermilion Flycatcher
Great Egrets, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbills congregating on the lagoon.
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)


Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) hunting for snails.
Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

13-24 March 2017

As my time in Guatemala comes to an end, I return to Petén and travel back up the Río San Pedro to the Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas (EBG) in Laguna del Tigre National Park. Last December, I participated in a Christmas Bird Count at this same biological station (click here for the blog post). Situated on the edge of the river within the vast Mayan Biosphere Reserve, EBG is the hub of important conservation work, including biological research, community development, and environmentally and socially responsible tourism. Thanks to Cornelio Chablé, Jeovany Tut Rodríguez, and the rest of EBG’s staff, I have the privilege of photographing birds for the station’s database. Following are a selection of my favorite photographs . . .


Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis)

Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)
American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea)
Green-backed Sparrow (Arremonops chloronotus)
Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii)

Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus)

Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melanocephalus)

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

Left to right, top to bottom: Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii), White-bellied Emerald (Amazilia candida), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), and Wedge-tailed Sabrewing (Campylopterus curvipennis).

Spider monkey silhouetted in the canopy.
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)

Yellow-throated Euphonia (Euphonia hirundinacea)

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
A small bat clings to an overhanging snag above the river.
Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum)
Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
Crimson-collared Tanager (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus)
View of Estación Biológica las Guacamayas from the Río San Pedro
The local Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) named Bobby.
The wonderful EBG staff and a few local students.

Bird Banding with FUNDAECO

14 February – 11 March 2017

The Foundation for Ecodevelopment and Conservation (FUNDAECO) in Guatemala runs the longest continuous bird banding and monitoring program in Latin America. For nearly two decades, Guatemalan biologists have been banding birds in the Izabel province. Thanks to FUNDAECO’s banding crew, I join local field researchers for nearly a month. Most days consist of ten hours of banding in mature forests, camping in remote locations, swimming in pristine rivers, laughing together, and snacking on corn tortillas with hot sauce.

Thank you Alexis, Miguel, Obdulio, Antonio, Yaquelin, and Thelma for a truly remarkable and memorable experience!

White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). These elusive birds inhabit Central American rainforests and consume all sorts of interesting prey including spiders, frogs, and snakes.
Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis), on of the most abundant birds at the field sites.
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher (Terenotriccus erythrurus), a flycatcher smaller than a kinglet (8 cm).

A Tawny-winged Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla anabatina) that was banded a previous season.

Ruddy Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla homochroa)
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster), one of the largest woodcreepers (23 cm).
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus), one of the smallest woodcreepers (15 cm).


Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica) and Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)

Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris)
Blue-black Grosbeak (Cyanoloxia cyanoides)
Female Dot-winged Antwren (Microrhopias quixensis)
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (Mionectes oleagineus)
Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus)

Lousiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum), one of the most abundant North American migrants captured.
Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii), an incredibly rare North American migrant.
Sunset on the Guatemala/Belize border.
Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)
Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus)
White-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucosticta)
Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus)
Northern Schiffornis (Schiffornis veraepacis)
The FUNDAECO Banding Crew in Action
We used waterways and boats to access our field sites near the Belize border.