Biodiversity in Belize
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Doyle's Delight Photo album of Bruce Holst

BERDS: Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize

2001 Five Blues Lake Eleocharis survey Report. pdf 217 kb.

National Protected Areas Policy and Systems Plan

 

Doyle's Delight Expedition 2007

Expedition to the Belize's Highest Point - Birds

Training opportunity

Juan Sho

Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center

Juan Sho    

Introduction

The training with Shannon Kenney on the expedition was a great opportunity for me to practice capturing birds with mist nets, and identifying birds by sight and sound. My prior knowledge of bird identification and vocalizations, gained through a lifetime of birding in Belize, was an invaluable asset when it came to recognizing both resident and migratory species. Although having no previous experience mist-netting, working with Shannon taught me valuable information. My first lesson with mist netting was selecting the appropriate location, also keeping in mind spacing between the nets. In choosing our sites, we experimented with such factors as how high or low would the birds fly, would they fly across or along the ridge, dark canopy vs. open areas, and proximity to fruiting trees. Some locations were more successful than others such as near fruiting trees and out of the wind. I learned how to erect the nets with a little difficulty at first, but it soon became easy. The next challenge was learning the proper way to remove birds from the nets, keeping in mind their safety and causing minimal stress. Capturing birds in the nets allowed us to handle different species of avifauna up close. Seeing birds up close gave me a greater appreciation for the variety in color and pattern of plumages. After the birds were removed from the net, I learned how to collect data such as body and wing molt, wing cord, weight, age by molt, sex (by plumage, brood patch, or cloacal protuberance), body fat, and skull pneumatization. This contact expanded my knowledge of bird morphology and anatomy.

One of the most exciting captures was finding four Emerald Toucanets in the nets. As one was caught and began to shriek, another would respond to the distress and end up tangled himself. Handling the four Toucanets I was able to feel the strength and quickness of their bills. Another exciting capture was a Golden-crowned Warbler, not only to see this migrant up close, but it also served , sadly for the warbler, as a bait to lure a Barred Forest Falcon into the net. It was my turn to clear the nets at this location so removing this thrashing raptor from the net required a lot of patience and put all my newly learned techniques to the test. The falcon was difficult to handle because I had to be careful not to get cut by its sharp talons. I held its legs and head in one outstretched hand while quickly untangling the net with the other. Once removed, the bird was too large to fit into a bag (or sock), so I carried it with two hands up the steep slope back to our processing area. Later at camp, Shannon taught me how to prepare a bird skeleton using the Golden-crowned Warbler that has been killed by the Barred Forest Falcon in the net.

In addition to netting, we also kept a list of birds seen and heard. As an active birder in Belize, it was very exciting to come across new species that I had never seen before. Of these, some of my favorites were the Common Bush Tanager, Eye-ringed Flatbill (a new record for Doyle’s Delight), Striped-tailed Hummingbird, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Red-capped Manakin, Collared Trogon (a sought after bird for foreign birders life lists) and Slaty Antwren. We also encountered migrant warblers such as the Golden Crowned Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and Kentucky Warbler (also a new record for Doyle’s Delight).

I was also able to recognize songs of native birds, such as Nightingale Wren, Spotted Woodcreeper, and the camp favorite, the Slate-colored Solitaire – a world famous songster. My field experience working alongside scientists of varied disciplines gave me a greater understanding of the flora and fauna of Doyle’s Delight. In the evening when everyone would gather for dinner we would talk about what each of us saw and learned that day. This exchange of ideas and stories was enjoyable and made me very interested to go out and explore even more. One of my favorite interactions was with the insect team who would set up a black light and white sheet to attract nocturnal insects. This activity caught the interest of all of us in camp and was often our nightly entertainment. As we all enjoyed the differently shaped and colored insects it sparked questions in me such as “Why are insects attracted to light?” and “How do they travel at night?” Asking such questions gave me ideas of what insect life is like. This is one example of the way the Doyle’s Delight experience shed new light on my understanding of the surrounding environment.

I would like to first thank Sharon Matola for the opportunity to participate in the Doyle’s Delight Expedition 2007 within the “Lost World” pre-montane forest of the Maya Mountain Range. Also thank you to Shannon Kenney for teaching me ornithological field methods. Last but not least, thank you to all the participants of the 2007 expedition for all the new things I have seen and learned. It was my pleasure to work alongside all of you.



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