Belize is a beautiful country on the eastern coast of Central America. As a country with both a coast along the ocean and a tropical jungle you can imagine there are hundreds of unique bird species. In Belize you will find everything from tiny hummingbirds to massive harpy eagles and everything in between. With such a diverse collection of birds it must have been hard to agree on just one as the national bird. Read on to find out all about the national bird of Belize.
What is the National Bird of Belize?
The national bird of Belize is the keel-billed toucan. One look at these colorful-billed birds and you understand why it is the national bird. Keel-billed toucans are sometimes called rainbow-billed toucans or sulfur-breasted toucan (due to their bright yellow chests). Their enormous bills are light green on top and bottom, red at the tip and streaked with orange and light blue. The body of the toucan is all black except for the chest which is bright yellow and a patch on its rear that is red. The bill makes up about a third of their total body length and although it looks large and cumbersome it is actually light weight and used to snip off fruit from trees.
Where do Keel-Billed Toucans Live?
Keel-billed toucans live from northern Columbia all the way up to southern Mexico. In Belize they live in the rainforests and can be found in pairs perched in trees or foraging on the ground for loose berries. They make their nests in tree holes and usually live in groups of six to twelve birds.
Can Keel-Billed Toucans Fly?
Yes! Despite their large bill they can fly but usually only short distances. They use their wings to take off and then coast through the air. Sometimes you will see a group of toucans flying together. Their feet have two toes facing forward and two facing back making it easy for them to land and grasp tree branches. Hopping from branch to branch is their preferred method of getting around.
Are Keel-Billed Toucans Really Loud?
Yes! Their squawk is a loud croaking noise that can be heard up to a half mile away. If you come upon a group of toucans eating it can be a noisy sight as they chatter while they eat. The males are extra vocal during the breeding season making impressive calls and displays to impress his mate.
Are Keel-Billed Toucans Social Birds?
Yes. Keel-billed toucans are social birds and can often be seen in pairs. They are monogamous and some pairs mate for life. Both of the parents help raise the chicks and groups of toucans can be seen living in the same area. A pair of toucans may defend their particular nest if needed. Toucans have been seen playing with each other by tossing fruit to one another like a game of hot potato. They also chase each other from tree to tree like a game of tag.
Is the National Bird of Belize on the Flag?
No. The national bird is not on the flag of Belize but the Coat of Arms is. The flag has a blue background with a thin red stripe along the top and bottom. In the center of the flag is the Coat of Arms. This features two men representing the logging industry standing on either side of the shield. A mahogany tree is in the background and at the bottom is a banner with the country’s motto, Sub Umbra Floreo which means “Under the Shade I Flourish”.
Is the National Bird of Belize on the Belize Money?
The money system in Belize is based on the Belize dollar. The beautiful flora and fauna of the country is featured on the banknotes. The keel-billed toucan was featured on a limited edition commemorative 5 dollar coin in 1982-1983. The current 20 dollar banknote features a jaguar on the front and an image of Queen Elizabeth II. The back has a variety of animals including the trigger fish, angel fish, Belize native bat, ringtail, black howler monkey and jaguar. There are also a few animals on the back that are endemic to Belize that you may not be familiar with; collared peccary, northern tamandua, red brocket and kinkajou.
What is a Collared Peccary?
Collared peccary are small, furry pig-like animals with a snout nose and hoofed legs. They are sometimes called javelin or javelina especially in the southern U.S. states where they also live. One feature that makes them look dangerous is their sharp canine teeth, but compared to wild boars, collared peccaries are pretty small. They are less than 3 feet long and weigh between 35-65 pounds.
What is a Northern Tamandua?
Northern tamanduas are anteaters that look like they are wearing a sweater vest. Their bodies have a tan body with a dark brown chest and back. They have a long snout and long tail and are quite comfortable in an arboreal (trees) setting. The tongue of the northern tamandua is not nearly as long as that of the giant anteater which can get to be two feet long, but it is long and sticky. Their tongues slurp up ants and termites.
What is a Red Brocket?
Red brockets are a type of deer in Central and South America. These brockets are reddish-brown and have grayish-brown faces. They are about 25-31 inches at the shoulder and are 40-55 inches long. Red brockets are the largest of the brocket deer but significantly smaller than white-tail deer. White-tail deer are typically 24-48 inches at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 150 pounds.
What is a Kinkajou?
The kinkajou is a super cute monkey-like animal with big black eyes and a long tail. While they look a little like monkeys they are actually related to raccoons and ringtails. Their name translates to “honey bear” and they do love their nectar. Kinkajou can hang from their tails and then use their tail as a “rope” to climb back up. One of the crazy adaptations of the kinkajou is they can turn their hind feet backwards so they can easily climb up and down trees. They are larger than squirrels but smaller than raccoons and can be anywhere from 3-10 pounds.
What Animals Live off the Coast of Belize?
Other animals that live in Belize include the spectacular marine life that live along the Belize Barrier Reef. Did you know this coral reef is the second largest in the world, next to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? You can imagine the diverse tropical fish, crabs, turtles and jellyfish that you can see snorkeling in the coral reef. Some of the animals you might see include hawksbill sea turtles, green sea turtles, stingrays, angelfish, parrotfish, sea stars, sea cucumbers and maybe a barracuda.
Belize has one of the largest populations of West Indian manatees. There are also a variety of whales, dolphins and sharks. While there are some aggressive sharks like the bull shark and great white shark there are also the gentle giants, the whale shark. Whale sharks can get to be 45 feet long but, no worries, they eat plankton and small fish and shrimp, so they are not dangerous to swimmers or snorkelers.
What is the National Animal of Belize?
The national animal of Belize is the Baird’s Tapir. In Belize they call the tapir the “mountain cow” but the tapir is actually closely related to the horse and rhino. These large mammals have an interesting look, with a long snout and heavy-set body. They are covered in pig-like hair in dark brown with a white chest and chin.
Both the national animal of Belize and the national bird receive universally respect and honor by the Belize people. With a country that clearly values its diverse fauna and flora, it is clear that all of the animals in the country, and off the coast, play an important role in the lives of the people of Belize.
More from A-Z Animals
The Featured Image
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the national bird of Belize?
The national bird of Belize is the keel-billed toucan. One look at these colorful-billed birds and you understand why it is the national bird. Keel-billed toucans are sometimes called rainbow-billed toucans or sulfur-breasted toucan (due to their bright yellow chests).
What is the national animal of Belize?
The national animal of Belize is the Baird’s Tapir. In Belize they call the tapir the “mountain cow” but the tapir is actually closely related to the horse and rhino.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.