The Cinnamon-bellied Saltator is gray above and grayish or buffy/”cinnamon” below, with a strong whitish eyebrow and black malar stripes that boarder a white throat.
Cinnamon-bellied Saltators prefer to live in wooded areas and forest edges, where they forage for insects, seeds, and fruit. They are known to be territorial birds and will defend their territories aggressively against other birds of their own species. Their breeding season typically begins in March and lasts until August, during which time they construct nests from twigs and grasses.
While the Cinnamon-bellied Saltator is not considered to be globally threatened, it is a species of conservation concern in Belize due to habitat loss and degradation. Efforts are being made to protect the remaining habitat of this species, and ecotourism can play a role in promoting the conservation of the Cinnamon-bellied Saltator and its habitat. Visitors to Belize can enjoy observing this beautiful bird in its natural habitat, while also contributing to its conservation
The American Coot, (Fulica americana), is a common waterbird found in the Central Valley of California. These birds have a distinctive appearance with a rounded, chicken-like body, black plumage, and a white beak. They also have unique lobed toes, which help them swim and dive in the water.
American Coots are social birds that gather in large flocks on freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes throughout the year. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of aquatic plants, invertebrates, and small fish.
During breeding season, they build floating nests in dense vegetation near the water’s edge and lay a clutch of 8-12 eggs. The chicks are precocial and able to swim and dive within hours of hatching. Overall, American Coots are an important part of the Central Valley’s ecosystem and a common sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Common Gallinule – Species #35
The Common Gallinule, (Gallinula galeata) formerly known as the Common Moorhen, is a medium-sized waterbird found in the wetlands and marshes of the Central Valley of California. This species has a dark, almost black plumage with a distinctive red frontal shield and yellow-tipped bill. The legs are long and greenish-yellow, with large toes that enable them to walk on floating vegetation. They are a highly adaptable species that can be found in a wide range of aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, and rice fields.
During breeding season, Common Gallinules are highly territorial and will defend their nesting sites aggressively. They build nests from floating vegetation and lay clutches of 6 to 10 eggs. The chicks are born precocial, meaning they are capable of walking and swimming shortly after hatching. The diet of Common Gallinules consists of a variety of plant and animal material, including seeds, insects, snails, and small fish.
Despite being common throughout much of their range, habitat loss and degradation have caused declines in some populations, making conservation efforts important to ensure their survival.
The White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) is a small bird species found in the tropical lowlands of Belize and other Central American countries. These birds have a distinctive appearance with a mostly brown body, white underparts, and a conspicuous white stripe over their eyes that resembles a pair of bushy eyebrows.
White-whiskered Puffbirds are insectivorous birds and mainly feed on large insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars, which they catch by sallying out from a perch or hovering in mid-air. They are also known to eat small vertebrates, including lizards and frogs.
These birds are generally solitary and monogamous, with pairs defending a territory throughout the year. They breed in tree cavities, with the female laying two or three eggs. The chicks are fed by both parents until they fledge, which typically takes around 18-21 days. White-whiskered Puffbirds are common and widespread in Belize, and their populations are considered to be stable. They can be observed in various habitats, including lowland forests, secondary growth, and even gardens and parks.
>> Next Post on Sunday, 4/30/2023 – Cinnamon-bellied Saltator
Brown Jays (Cyanocorax morio) are relatively large, and predominately are dark brown with a pale buff brown or pale white vent and belly. They are found throughout Central America, including Belize. Brown Jays are highly social and form tight-knit groups of up to 20 individuals that work together to defend territories and locate food.
In Belize, Brown Jays are found in a variety of habitats, from open woodlands and savannas to dense forests. They are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of fruits, insects, and small vertebrates.
During the breeding season, which typically occurs from March to June, Brown Jays build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs and lay up to five eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Despite being common and widespread, the Brown Jay is a beautiful and fascinating bird that plays an important role in the ecology of Belize.
>> Next Post on Friday, 4/28/2023 – White-wiskered Puffbird
The Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena) is a stunning bird species that is found in the tropical forests of Central America, including Belize. It is a medium-sized trogon, with a distinctive slaty-blue tail, a bright red belly, and a green back. The males have a metallic green head and upperparts, while the females are duller with a brownish-black head and upperparts.
Slaty-tailed Trogons are typically found in the understory of lowland and foothill forests, where they feed on a variety of insects, fruits, and small vertebrates. During the breeding season, which typically occurs between February and August, the males perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females. They build nests in tree cavities, usually using decaying wood, and lay 2-3 eggs per clutch. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the young.
Despite their striking appearance, Slaty-tailed Trogons are generally not threatened and are considered to be of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, they do face some threats from habitat loss and fragmentation due to deforestation and human activities, which can impact their availability of food and nesting sites.
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is a migratory raptor that breeds in North America and winters in South America. In the Central Valley of California, Swainson’s Hawks typically arrive in mid-March and depart by the end of September. During the breeding season, they prefer to nest in tall trees and hunt for prey in open fields and grasslands.
Swainson’s Hawks have three distinctive plumage variations (called morphs); pale morphs, intermediate morphs and dark. Pale morph birds show a dark breast-band, or “bib,” between a lighter belly and throat.
Intermediate morphs show a pale forehead at close range and an evenly colored backside.
The darkest morph adult Swainson’s Hawks lack a sharp contrast between wing-linings and flight-feathers, and their entire breast and belly can be nearly uniform dark brown.
In the Central Valley of California, Swainson’s Hawks primarily feed on small mammals such as voles, gophers, and ground squirrels. During the non-breeding season, they also consume insects, reptiles, and birds. Swainson’s Hawks are known for their soaring flight, often flying at high altitudes in search of prey or during migration. They also perform aerial acrobatics during courtship displays, where they spiral and dive in a display of agility and strength.
In recent years, Swainson’s Hawk populations have faced threats from habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and electrocution from power lines. However, conservation efforts have been successful in protecting breeding and wintering habitats, reducing pesticide use, and installing “raptor-safe” power poles. As a result, Swainson’s Hawk populations have been stable or increasing in some areas of their range.
Family: Phasianidae – Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies
Order: Galliformes – Gallinaceous Birds
About this Bird
One of only two Turkey species worldwide. The Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is a large bird species found in Belize. It is a member of the turkey family and is distinct from the more familiar wild turkey species found in North America.
The Ocellated Turkey is known for its striking plumage, which includes iridescent feathers in shades of blue, green, and bronze, as well as bold eye-shaped spots (ocelli) on its tail feathers. Males are larger and more brightly colored than females and can grow up to 4 feet in length.
These turkeys are primarily forest-dwelling birds, inhabiting tropical rainforests and other dense woodlands. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of plant and animal matter, including fruits, seeds, insects, and small reptiles.
The Ocellated Turkey has a fascinating social behavior, with males engaging in elaborate courtship displays to attract females during the breeding season. These displays involve fluffing their feathers, puffing out their chests, and making a series of gobbling, clucking, and purring sounds. Females will lay 8-15 eggs in a ground nest, and both parents will take turns incubating the eggs.
>> Next Post on Sunday, 4/23/2023 – Slaty-tailed Trogon
The Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens) is a small, colorful passerine bird that is commonly found in the winter in the forests of Belize. Males have a striking black throat and olive-green upperparts, while females have a yellow-green head and back, and a yellow throat. They are a migratory bird species that breed in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada and winter in Central America and the Caribbean.
In Belize, the Black-throated Green Warbler can be found in the country’s forests, particularly in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. They are often found in the understory and mid-story of the forest, flitting about in search of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.
>> Next Post on Friday, 4/21/2023 – Ocellated Turkey
The Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua) is a species of bird found in Belize and other parts of Central and South America. As its name suggests, it has a distinctive broad and flattened bill that is shaped like a boat, which it uses to catch insects in flight. The Boat-billed Flycatcher is a medium-sized bird, typically measuring around 20 centimeters (8″) in length, and has a dark grey or brownish-grey body with a yellowish belly and a black crest on its head.
In Belize, the Boat-billed Flycatcher is found in a variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, and scrublands, and is a resident species, meaning it is present year-round. It is known to be an opportunistic feeder, feeding on a wide range of insects, fruits, and even small vertebrates such as lizards and frogs.
During the breeding season, which typically occurs between March and August, the Boat-billed Flycatcher constructs a cup-shaped nest out of grasses and other plant materials, which it lines with feathers and spider webs. The female lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 16-18 days, after which the chicks hatch and are cared for by both parents until they fledge at around 15-16 days old.
>> Next Post on Tuesday, 4/18/2023 – Black-throated Green Warbler
The Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla) is a small, brightly colored songbird that can be found in the Central Valley of California during its migration season. These birds are about 4.5 inches long and have a wingspan of approximately 6 inches. They are bright yellow in color with a black cap on their head.
Wilson’s Warblers are insectivores and are often found flitting through vegetation in search of insects. They are known for their distinctive song, which is a series of high-pitched notes that sound like “tee-tee-tee-tee-tee.”
Despite their small size, Wilson’s Warblers play an important role in the Central Valley’s ecosystem by helping to control insect populations. However, like many bird species, they face threats from habitat loss and climate change, making conservation efforts crucial for their continued survival. Protecting the habitats that these birds rely on, such as riparian areas and wetlands, is essential to ensuring that they can continue to migrate through the Central Valley and beyond.
Yellow Warbler – Species #31
The Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) is a small, brightly colored songbird that inhabits the Central Valley of California during the breeding season. These birds are easily recognized by their bright yellow plumage, which is accented by rusty red streaks on the breast and flanks.
Yellow Warblers are typically found in riparian habitats such as streamside woodlands, hedgerows, and willow thickets. During the breeding season, they construct cup-shaped nests made of grasses and other plant materials, which are often lined with spider webs and feathers. Females typically lay 3-5 eggs, which hatch after a 10-12 day incubation period.
Yellow Warblers are insectivorous and feed primarily on small insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and spiders. They are also known to occasionally feed on fruit and nectar. These birds migrate south to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean during the winter months. The conservation status of Yellow Warblers is currently listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but habitat loss and degradation are potential threats to their populations.
Warbling Vireo – Species #32
The Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) is a small, olive-gray bird with a white underbelly and supercilium (eyeline). It measures about 4.75 inches in length and has a wingspan of approximately 8 inches. The species is known for its distinct, high-pitched warbling song, which it uses to communicate with its mate and establish its territory.
In the Central Valley of California, the Warbling Vireo is a fairly-common neotropical migrant, passing through in late April or early May and making its return trip back south in August or September. The bird breeds in higher elevation riparian habitats, including streams, rivers, and creeks, where it builds a cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tree or shrub.
Warbling Vireos are known for their distinctive, warbling song, which is often described as sounding like “three eight, three eight, three eight.” They are a migratory species and spend the winter in Mexico, Central America, and South America before returning to their breeding grounds in the spring. Overall, Warbling Vireos are an important and fascinating part of the avian community in this region, and their presence is a sign of a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series: