Hawk Migration Association of North America
Belize Raptor Tour
Join HMANA and the Belize Bird Conservancy for the hawk-watching experience of a lifetime!
Date: Nov 7-16, 2023
Cost: $3,995 per person ($3895 HMANA Member)
**does not include airfare
Single supplement: $300
Tour deposit: $500
This HMANA and Belize Bird Conservancy tour will be like no other birding tour you have experienced. Along with observing new species and exploring habitats throughout the Central American gem, Belize, you will enjoy educational and cultural enrichment through talks and tours. As part of this tour, you will participate in the Belize Hawk Watch during the peak of the Hook-billed Kite migration, when you have a chance to see 500 or more of these spectacular raptors in a day! The tour will be focused on Belize’s neotropical raptors, but will also search for and appreciate all species and taxa.
Tour leaders include Roni Martinez, the Belize Hawk Watch Supervisor and the Belize Raptor Certification Program Instructor, and Bill Clark, HMANA board member, author (Raptors of Mexico and Central America), researcher, and lecturer with over 50 years’ experience working with raptors.
You will have a chance to observe over 40 raptor species including many charismatic neotropical specialties such as the Orange-breasted Falcon, Solitary Eagle, Black-collared Hawk, Hook-billed Kite, Crane Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White Hawk, Barred Forest-Falcon, King Vulture, and Laughing Falcon. In addition to raptors, many Yucatan endemic bird species can be found, as well as mammals, including the elusive jaguar. Join us on this unique lifetime and birding experience to support raptor research and conservation.
Tour price includes a contribution to the Cattle Landing Hawk Watch in Belize.
The Tour Guides
Bill Clark – HMANA Tour Guide
Bill Clark is a photographer, author, researcher, and lecturer and has over 50 years experience working with birds of prey, including 5 years as Director of NWF’s Raptor Information Center. He has published numerous articles on raptor subjects; has traveled extensively world-wide studying, observing, and photographing raptors; and regularly led raptor and birding tours and workshops, both home and abroad, with Raptours, which is now being run by his colleague, Sergio Seipke.
He has been living in the Rio Grande Valley since 2002. He regularly teaches evening and weekend courses on raptor field identification and biology and frequently presents lectures on raptor subjects.
Bill has written a raptor field guide for Europe, another for Mexico and Central America and yet another for Africa. He is a coauthor of the Photographic Guide to North American Raptors and the completely revised Peterson series guide, Hawks. He has on-going research projects on Harlan’s Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, and Harris’s Hawk.
Roni Martinez – Belize Bird Conservancy Guide
Roni was born in Belize and worked as a natural history guide at Blancaneaux Lodge in
Belize from 2004 until 2014. It was there that he developed a passion for birds and conservation. In 2009, Roni became Blancaneaux’s first Conservation Officer and the first for Belize. As a result of this position, he worked along with many different researchers and conservation NGOs who shared the same vision.
Currently, his work involves research and collaboration on several projects related to birds with numerous organizations including the Belize Bird Conservancy and Belize Audubon Society.
He is currently the Belize Bird Conservancy’s Raptor Certification Instructor and Hawk Watch Supervisor, as well as serves on the Board of Directors. Roni’s focus during the last decade has been on bird tourism and how this can fund conservation. This has led him to guiding many birding groups throughout the country. A lot of his time also goes into training as many Belizeans as possible in bird tourism and to strengthen NGOs in their bird monitoring programs. His work with other conservation organizations has been crucial in maintaining a proactive effort in conserving birds in Belize.
Airfare, alcohol, and items of a personal nature are not included.
The tour begins and ends in Belize City, Belize. The round-trip airfare to Belize City will vary with the city of origin but is estimated at $600-800 per person.
Please read HMANA’s Tour Refund Policy before making your payment.
For more information or to reserve your spot with a $500 deposit, contact Julie Brown.
This tour will be like no other birding tour you have experienced! Along with observing new species, and exploring habitats throughout the Central American gem, Belize, you will also enjoy an educational and cultural enrichment through talks and tours. As part of this tour you will participate in the Belize Hawk Watch during the peak of the Hook-billed Kite migration, which you have a chance to see over 500 in a day, if not more! The tour will be focused on Neotropical raptors, but will search for and appreciate all species and taxa. There will also be multiple cultural experiences. It will be led by Roni Martinez, the Belize Hawk Watch Supervisor and the Belize Raptor Certification Program Instructor, and William (Bill) Clark, author (Raptors of Mexico and Central America), researcher, and lecturer with over 50 years of experience working with raptors and current HMANA Board member. You will have a chance to observe over 30 raptor species with many unique Neotropical species such as the Orange-breasted Falcon, Solitary Eagle, Black-collared Hawk, Hook-billed Kite, Crane Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White Hawk, Barred Forest-Falcon, King Vulture, and Laughing Falcon, to name some of the highlights. As well as the raptors, many unique Yucatan endemic bird species will be seen, as well as mammals, including the jaguar. Join us on this unique lifetime and birding experience to support raptor research and conservation.
Pace of the tour: The tour will consist of very active days but will not be too physically demanding. The group will drive and stop at several locations during the day. There will be some walking, mostly over flat terrian but some moderate elevation occasionally. No part of the tour will be very strenuous. The longest walk is at Mountain Pine Ridge, (approx 1 mile in and 1 mile out) over flat terrain. Participants always have the opportunity to opt out of walks or opt for a shorter distance if needed. Guides will do their best to accomodate everyone’s needs.
Tue, Nov. 7 – Mountain Pine Ridge
Wed, Nov. 8 – Mountain Pine Ridge
Thu, Nov. 9 – Chaabil Be Lodge
Fri, Nov. 10 – Chaabil Be Lodge
Sat, Nov. 11 – Chaabil Be Lodge
Sun, Nov. 12 – Bocawina Rainforest Lodge
Mon, Nov 13 – Bocawina Rainforest Lodge
Tue, Nov 14 – Crooked Tree
Wed, Nov 15 – Crooked Tree
Thu, Nov 16 – Drop off Airport
Tue, Nov 7: Belize City to Mountain Pine Ridge
Arrive in Belize City at the International Airport. Transfer to Pine Ridge Lodge in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve through the pine savanna lowlands and then the foothills of the Maya Mountains, where we have a chance to see numerous species from the vehicle such as Roadside Hawk and White-tailed Hawk (~2.5 hour drive). Around Belize City we start looking for Snail Kite, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, and Northern Jacana. Upon arrival settle into the lodge before a welcome dinner with tour introductions.
Hotel: Pine Ridge Lodge
Wed, Nov 8: Mountain Pine Ridge and San Antonio Village
Early breakfast before departing to the Slate Creek Overlook in the Elijio Panti National Park for a raptor spectacle such as Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Double-toothed Kite, White Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, King Vulture, and possibly a rare, highly desired Lovely Cotinga. We will have a packed lunch in the field, as we will then venture up to the tallest water fall in Belize and arguably some of the most stunning views in the country of the Belize forest, Thousand Foot Falls Natural Monument, that has a nesting pair of Orange-breasted Falcons and a possible chance at the ultra-rare Solitary Eagle. We could also see Laughing Falcon, Stygian Owl, and MPR specialties such as Black-headed Siskin, and Rusty Sparrow. As we will have a packed lunch with us, a stop at Thousand Foot Falls Natural Monument is in order, to enjoy the views. Mid-afternoon we will depart to San Antonio Village for an authentic Maya cultural immersion while also visiting a nature trail nearby to get a real taste of Neotropical iconic birds such as Lesson’s Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, White-collared Manakin, Gartered Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, as well as raptors such as Bicolored Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle and Collared Forest-Falcon. Dinner in San Antonio Village before returning to the Lodge.
Hotel: Pine Ridge Lodge
Thu, Nov 9: Mountain Pine Ridge to Punta Gorda
Today we will be doing a long drive (5 hours?) to the southernmost town in Belize, Punta Gorda, traversing through much of Belize with scenic views, especially through the famous Hummingbird Highway We will make several stops along the way for refreshments, lunch, leg-stretching, and bathroom breaks, and of course we will stop if we see raptors or other noteworthy species. Possibilities on the trip south include Bat Falcon, White Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Striped Cuckoo, Hook-billed Kite, Red-lored Parrot, Olive-throated Parakeet and Gartered Trogon. Upon arriving at our lodge, we will take a good break for the rest of the day to get settled in, rest, or bird around the lodge. The birding around the lodge is incredible as you are immersed in the rainforest. Species like Black-headed Trogon, Crimson-collared Tanager, Yellow-winged Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Black-cowled Oriole, and many more. For those with enough energy, a bird walk will be available before dinner.
Hotel: Chaabil Be Lodge and Casitas
Fri, Nov 10: Belize Hawk Watch and Maya Chocolate
Light birding and coffee will be available before breakfast. Next, we head to the Belize Hawk Watch where we will spend the morning counting migrating Hook-billed Kites and a handful of other northern migrant raptors. This is peak Hook-billed Kite migration and there is a chance to see over 500 in a morning flight. This site is the only site in the world to see Hook-billed Kites migrating in large numbers! Since the count site is on the seaside and along the coastal flyway, be prepared for many other migrants and coastal water birds. Lunch will be at a local restaurant, after which we will return to the lodge for a break. In the afternoon, we will visit a local Maya chocolate maker to learn about the art of chocolate making by Mayan and get to indulge. Return to the Lodge for dinner.
Hotel: Chaabil Be Lodge and Casitas
Sat, Nov 11: Belize Hawk Watch and San Felipe Hills and surrounding areas
Optional early light birding around Lodge before breakfast at lodge, followed by all morning Hawk Watching at Cattle Landing count site for a second day of raptor migration. Hopefully adding to our previous day excitement or giving us more opportunity to see a better flight. Lunch at local restaurant, followed by a short break at the lodge. We will then embark on an afternoon visit to San Felipe Hills and surrounding areas for birding and raptors over the forest. Some target species include Black-crowned Antshrike, Mistletoe Tyrannulet, Barred Forest-Falcon, White Hawk, and Northern Barred Woodcreeper. After dinner, night drive for owling (Striped Owl, Mottled Owl).
Hotel: Chaabil Be Lodge and Casitas
Sun, Nov 12: Chaabil Be to Mayflower Bocawina National Park
Breakfast at the lodge, followed by our final morning at the Hawk Watch site to see the Hook-billed Kite migration spectacle. Return to the lodge for lunch before packing up and heading north to our next lodge. Along our drive we will make a stop at Red Bank to look for additional raptors and the iconic Scarlet Macaw or Cockscomb Bason Wildlife Sanctuary depending on species we are targeting. We will arrive in the afternoon at Mayflower Bocawina National Park where our accommodation, Bocawina Rainforest Resort, is located. You will have time to settle in and bird around the highly diverse and lush lodge grounds where you can find Golden-hooded Tanager, White-winged Becard, Green Honeycreeper, Passerini’s Tanager, Violet Sabrewing and Gray-headed Tanagers.
Hotel: Bocawina Rainforest Resort
Mon, Nov 13: Mayflower Bocawina National Park and Hopkins Wetland
After breakfast at the lodge, all morning we will explore the great bird diversity that Mayflower Bocawina NP has to offer, where we will be searching for species like Gray-headed Kite, Tody Motmot, Crested Guan, Broad-winged Hawk and Great Curassow. Because of the ongoing and successful protection efforts to save the Scarlet Macaws on the western side of the Maya Mountains, they have been showing up in this reserve as well. We will keep vigilant for Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Bicolored Hawk, and Double-toothed Kite. The abundant Heliconias on the drive also offer good chances for Stripe-throated Hermit and Long-billed Hermit. Lunch at the lodge followed by a short break. Then we will depart on an afternoon trip to Hopkins Wetlands where we will search for raptors such as Common Black Hawk, as well as many unique wetland species, such as the ultra-elusive Spotted Rail. Back to the lodge to refresh, have dinner and go on a night walk looking for nocturnal species (Spectacled Owl, Black-and-white Owl, Middle America Screech-Owl) and to experience the night rainforest.
Hotel: Bocawina Rainforest Resort
Tue, Nov 14: Bocawina to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
After breakfast, we will depart for Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. We will traverse over a large area but will stop at the Belize Zoo where we have opportunities to see the critically endangered Yellow-headed Parrot, Aplomado Falcon, White-tailed Hawk & Tropical Mockingbird, and enjoy a leisurely walk among native Belizean fauna. With birding stops the drive will take us about 3.5 hours. Lunch will be at Cheers Restaurant, where we will have lunch and look for Vermilion Flycatchers and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. After lunch, we will head to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a massive wetland and Ramsar site. After checking in and getting settled with time to relax we will go on a walk around part of the lagoon for species like Black-collared Hawks, Snail Kites, Great Black-Hawks, and a vast diversity of water birds.
Hotel: Birds Eye View Lodge
Wed, Nov 15: Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Before breakfast we will explore some nearby trails looking for hawks (Crane Hawk, Gray Haw, Great Black Hawk) and falcons (Collared Forest-Falcon, Bat Falcon, Laughing Falcon). After breakfast we will roam the village and trails for Yucatan endemic species, such as Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Flycatcher, Gray-throated Chat, and Yellow-lored Parrot. before returning t the lodge for lunch. We then take a short break before going on a sunset boat safari looking for the stunning, Black-collared Hawk, many Snail Kites to compare different plumages, Crane Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, and numerous types of waterbirds such as Jabiru, Agami Heron, Central American Pygmy Kingfisher, Sungrebe, and Boat-billed Heron.
Hotel: Birds Eye View Lodge
Thu, Nov 16: Departure
On our last morning in Belize, we are up before the sun for some coffee before embarking once more on a boat ride to explore some additional areas of the Crooked Tree Lagoon and its tributaries. After this final adventure, we return to the lodge for breakfast and packing. We then start making our way to the Belize International Airport for flights back home.