The latest trends indicate that bird watching is the new chosen hobby among Millennials these days, and we all know what that means: bird watching has now been deemed trendy and cool. So cool in fact, that Condé Nast Traveler has gone so far as to call it one of the biggest international trends of the year. Simply rebranded as Urban Birding, this pastime has shed its feathers of its old, stodgy reputation and its new and improved self is soaring to great heights. Curious as to why Urban Birding is international travel's latest craze? Look no further than Belize, and you will easily see how exciting our (Not So) Urban Birding can be. Even those who are not typically drawn to bird watching will quickly flock to the pastime while visiting Belize. This is without a doubt due to the impressive number of bird species on the island and the ease and frequency with which they can be seen. Not surprisingly, Belize is home to a plethora of beautiful birds - roughly 600 species to be exact, which is an astonishingly vast number for a relatively small country. While 20 percent of these birds are migrants who fly down to Belize to escape the harsh winters in North America, the remaining 80 percent are local species that can't be seen just anywhere- all thanks to the diverse habitats, from tropical rainforest to saltwater flats, that are found within Belizean borders. The quaint island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, is home to 260 of these bird species (you can meet a few of them here) and is without a doubt a wonderful place to develop and/or improve your bird watching skills! Our neighbors observe not only the seafaring birds such as gulls, herons, and oystercatchers, but we also share our caye with a variety of hummingbird species. Not only are exotic birds easy to spot in Ambergris Caye, but the island itself is an ornithological [ornithology - noun. Refers to the study of birds] classroom to behold. If amateur birding in this beautiful paradise leaves you longing for more, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are a number of bird watching classes and events to educate and enhance your birding experience offered on the island as well! In fact, the Belize Audubon Society hosts an Urban Bird Watch in San Pedro every October and is an opportunity to introduce bird conservation to newbies as well as to observe the seasonal birds as they migrate over the waters and onto the island. The BAS also hosts The Great Backyard Bird Count, where participants are encouraged to take part in a 4 day event full of observing and documenting their bird findings at www.birdcount.org) Additionally, Birding Consultant and Bird Guide, Roni Martinez, also with the BAS, offers an "Intro to Bird Identification" course in San Pedro that is sure to leave participants both educated and in awe of these fabulous creatures. Though the Belize Audubon Society itself is located on the mainland in Belize City, these events and classes surpass the mainland and can be participated in even across the waters in Ambergris Caye. You won't want to miss them on your next trip. For beginning birders, we recommend a trip to the Bird Sanctuary at Half Moon Caye. Autumn is a fantastic time to visit the caye, as the migration is in full swing. Some species, such as the warblers, are too tired to retreat from human visitors and their binoculars, which means excellent viewing opportunities for our explorers. The red-footed boobies begin nesting on the caye during the month of December, with babies first appearing around March. Think you've already seen the red-footed boobies around the Caribbean? You'll definitely want to check ours out, as most of Belize's boast white bodies, in contrast to the brown seen throughout the rest of the Caribbean. A trip to Half Moon Caye is a part of Las Terrazas Resort's Blue Hole tour, a full-day experience that includes 3 snorkel stops as well as a picnic on Half Moon Caye. The experienced staff at Las Terrazas Resort's Front Desk can recommend a number of adventures for birders of all experience levels. Or, we will be happy to help you plan an adventure that encompasses birding along with cave tubing, horseback riding, snorkeling on Ambergris Caye, or hiking to the ruins, just to name a few of the amazing experiences unique to Belize. As you plan your next visit to Las Terrazas in Ambergris Caye, be sure to add these must see, unBELIZEable birding destinations to your bucket list. Happy birding!
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