I’ve been back from Belize for several days now and have fully recovered from the chiggers, the sunburn, the sand flies, the rum, and the exhaustion of international travel. (I know, I know, poor me, right?) Thinking back on the time we – the family and I – spent enjoying a new country for all of us I realized that my favorite birding of the whole trip was while we were at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, along the Hummingbird Highway near Blue Hole National Park. It involved me sitting on the porch of our casita, generally with a mojito in hand and Desi hanging out on the hammock, and watching birds come to the big bare tree that stood about thirty meters away as we listened to the babble of the brook that flowed through the garden. It was peaceful, fun, and perhaps the best way I can come up with to spend a vacation.

That skinny little thing sticking up out of the left side of the porch next door is the tree in question.

It wasn’t that the birds that came to the tree were particularly rare or particularly close. Most of them were common and the light on the tree was only good in the afternoon. They were mostly birds of disturbed habitat as, despite the name, Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge is only adjacent to a rainforest, not in one, a very big difference. But what they were was continuous. There was almost always at least one bird in the tree, as it was the perfect staging area for flying across the Sibun River, which flowed behind the tree, or for landing in after flying across the river.

White-collared Seedeaters were one of the most common birds at Sleeping Giant and they would often perch up in the tree to sing.

For some reason, I really like Bronzed Cowbirds. Maybe it’s that scary, red eye?

This bird stumped me when it flew into the tree. Fortunately, it sat and let me watch it for quite awhile and get some pictures. I’m relatively certain it is a female Yellow-throated Euphonia, but am open to correction. How annoying that females of the species lack the namesake throat!

Sulpher-bellied Flycatchers are a snazzy bird and are unfairly overlooked for all the bright-yellow-bellied flycatchers.

I can’t be the only one who forgets saltators exist as soon as I leave the Neotropics and am only reminded of them once I return, see one, and say, “Oh yeah, saltators.” This one is a Grayish Saltator. No one cares, saltator. No one cares.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker was one of the four species of woodpecker I saw at Sleeping Giant but the only one I got decent images of.

Crimson-collared Tanager is one of only three species of tanager I saw during the trip, which was kind of depressing. (Blue-gray Tanager, like the one at the top of the post, and Yellow-winged Tanager were the other two.) That said, I really like Crimson-collared Tanagers.

If I managed to see this many cool birds in one tree in one location while drinking mojitos and entertaining a seven-year-old how many awesome birds did I see on the rest of the trip? You’ll have to wait and see and come back to the blog for more to find out!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.