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Oct 22, 2019

Second Annual Belize Birding Festival

More than two hundred people gathered in San Ignacio over the weekend to talk about birds in Belize. This is the second time the birding community has come together for the Belize Birding Festival. It is an event where bird lovers and those working with birds meet to talk about advancing the work and business opportunities in birding. While Belize is still a relatively growing birding destination – there are many untapped opportunities that exist. And for those who work behind the scenes to ensure that we have healthy bird population – it is a chance to exchange information and learn from each other. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more about the festival.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Did you know that there are over five hundred species of Birds in Belize? Over four hundred of those are resident birds – and the rest are migratory birds – from North America. Over the weekend, over two hundred birding enthusiasts and experts gathered at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel to talk about these birds and the birding opportunities that they can tap into. To the average Belizean, you may think there isn’t much to talk about birds in Belize, but to these birders – it is a dynamic and important topic to discuss. This second Belize Birding Festival brought together local and international tourism officials and guides, conservationists and bird experts, and bird watchers. The Belize Audubon Society is one of the organizers of the festival.


Amanda Burgos

Amanda Burgos, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“The birding festival is really an opportunity for us to learn as well. We try to have a presentation on what are the new tools, what we can learn about birds and this festival there is a session led by Dr Lee Jones and it is on identification of difficult birds. So, there is a little bit of learning and a little panel discussion on tourism; e-bird as a marketing tool which is a tool that basically is used by citizens listing the birds that they are identifying and it is really an indicator of where you can find what you are interested in related to the birding world.”


Last year alone, thirty thousand tourists visited Belize to go birding. It is still relatively small when compared to ocean or archaeological activities, but the B.T.I.A can see the potential that exists to push Belize as a top birding destination. That is why this they want this festival to help stimulate that interest.


John Burgos

John Burgos, Executive Director, B.T.I.A.

“One of the first things we want to do is to showcase Belize as a birding destination, globally and secondly we want to provide our members, our tour guides, hotels and lodges that offer birding as one of their experiences so that they can get exposed and offer their services. So, over the last two years we have seen how the birding has been growing in terms of Belize.”


And to help drive home the message that birds are important to us – outside of their tourism appeal – the birding festival featured international bird expert John Fitzpatrick of the Cornell Lab or Ornithology. His work has created an online database that is helping to tell more stories on the status of birds across the world and how humans are impacting them.


John Fiztpatrick

John Fiztpatrick, Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

“Work that we have been doing using hundreds of thousands of citizens’ observations around the world to understand bird distribution in ways that will allow us to understand better how we are affecting their behavior , how their habitat is changing through time and how they do their annual migrations and so on. Ultimately, that we can use humans to understand how the birds are behaving and how they are reflecting our use of the landscape.”


The two-day festival included birding tours, a panel discussion on birding and tourism, as well as other featured talks. Partners in the birding business and conservation work, including tourism and N.G.O.s, also displayed the birding opportunities available in Belize and work that is being done. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


We’ll have much more about birds and birding in Belize later this week.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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