101 Birds of Belize
Carolyn M. Miller
101 Birds of Belize was written by Carolyn M. Miller with illustrations by Fernando Zavala and Alejandro Grajal, and published for the Belize Audubon Society by Producciones de la Hamaca, Caye Caulker, BELIZE - 164 pages (2009)
For more information, contact the Belize Audubon Society
from the Foreword by Craig Lee of the National Audubon Society
Belize opened my eyes to the joys of tropical birds and their environments. And that experience set me on a different course that has shaped my life. This book is a milestone along that course. As a tourist from a northern part of the USA, all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Belize were as foreign to me as the humid warmth the first time I visited. The country was full of surprises for every sense. But, together with the wonderful Belizean people, it was the glorious array of birds that captivated me night and day. What I would have given to have this book when I crept out of my room at first light to investigate the incredibly strange calls emanating from a tree festooned with gigantic hanging, woven nests. It would have helped me to quickly figure out that I was seeing my first Oropendula. Instead I had to study the immense Peterson volume Birds of Mexico and Central America to find this amazing creature.
Even though Belize now has its own bird guide, a sure sign that a country is renowned for its avian treasures, it is still a challenge for most people to identify common bird species from among the more than 550 that have been found in Belize. A book like this one can be like a first visit to a new locale. Even if the place is familiar to you, the text and images can serve as a pathfinder to a new way of “seeing” one’s natural environs. Knowledge of birds, or any other part of the world around you, pulls back the curtain on the drama that is everywhere. Much like the beginning of a play, the stage is revealed and you can witness the action and understand the characters. Carolyn Miller and Belize Audubon offer this newly revised version of 101 Birds of Belize so that citizens and visitors will have the opportunity to see the exciting scene that I witnessed on my first trip. On that trip I also learned an important lesson. It can be paraphrased as “economics rule ecosystems”. Belize has the good fortunes of abundant forests, numerous rivers, healthy fisheries and fertile soils. As a result, it has been able to provide for its relatively small population. But where the population has grown quickly or the commercial demands on the natural world are too great, even Belize’s resources can be depleted. Belizeans, like people everywhere, want to achieve sustainable, dignified livelihoods.
Sometimes these motivations appear to be at odds with the goals of retaining the jungles, estuaries, shorelines and farms on which birds and other animals and plants depend. In Belize, I had the good fortune to see how protecting places for birds and other creatures also benefits human residents. This concept is a fundamental component of the work of Belize Audubon Society, and now of the International Alliances Program, that I direct, for National Audubon Society, which is based in the USA. Together, our two organizations have produced this book to foster and promote the potential for Belizeans and their marvelous birds to share a prosperous future. When more citizens can see and recognize and appreciate the unique animals with which they share in their country, the more likely it is that they can all thrive. Birds and Belizeans together make the country special. We look forward to protecting both.
Craig Lee, Director
Vice President and Director
International Alliances Program
National Audubon Society
from the Foreword by Philip Balderamos from the Belize Audubon Society
Since its inception in 1969, the Belize Audubon Society has reached out to hundreds of Belizeans, young and adult, and introduced them to the natural wonders of Belize. The Society’s pioneering efforts have fostered greater awareness of Belize’s ecology, natural history and significantly, our birds. In 1995, with the support of many partners, Carolyn Miller released the first edition of this book, 100 Birds of Belize. As the first widely available publication on the avifauna of Belize, it received high acclaim and was much in demand. The first edition certainly achieved their aim of educating and motivating readers to conserve the Belizean environment through knowledge of birds and the important ecological niche they occupy. The cadre of ardent Belizean birders now extends to all six districts of the country.
101 Birds of Belize carries on the effort to maintain this rich tradition. 101 Birds of Belize will satisfy repeated requests for a reprint of the author’s earlier publication. This volume is updated and expanded to include the Harpy Eagle, highlighting Belize’s efforts to reintroduce this species, and features an updated bird list and protected areas map as well as new illustrations. We highly recommend this book. The splendid images and detailed text will surely provide many hours of pleasure to field and armchair birders alike. Congratulations once more to Carolyn Miller!
As with the first edition, 100 Birds of Belize, Carolyn Miller has donated her time and expertise to write this book and keep it in print for perpetuity with all proceeds benefiting the Belize Audubon Society for bird conservation and education. BAS is very grateful to Carolyn Miller!
BAS Member and former President
Winner of the 2008 BAS James A. Waight Conservation Award
about the Author
Carolyn M. Miller is a conservation biologist and has been resident in Belize since 1986. The first edition of this book, 100 Birds of Belize, was among her first projects in Belize, along with an ornithological survey of the Mussel Creek drainage system with husband Bruce. Since then, the Millers have worked on many diverse conservation projects throughout the country from birds to bats and cats.