After our day off for New Years, the class and I went to the Belize Raptor Center, where we learned all about the different raptors found in Belize and about the rehabilitation they do at the center. A really amazing bird that we met was a Orange Breasted Falcon, named Maya. Her and her siblings were born in the United States through a breeder, and were sent to Belize to be released, while Maya’s siblings were released, she was not able to be released because she has cataracts. Many of these birds are feared in Belize for various reasons, especially the Barn Owls, they are said to bring bad omens.
The Raptor Center has a huge education program, where they go to schools to teach children in Belize about these birds so that they don’t fear them and to teach them about the illegal pet trade, which is a huge problem in Belize. While at the Raptor Center the class was invited to the local airport to watch an owl creance fly, this practice is used so that rehab centers can allow their birds to fly larger distances that they can’t normally do while they are recovering and for this owl, to see if her wing is recovering.
The next day we went to the Community Baboon Sanctuary. This sanctuary is a group of 7 towns that are working together to protect and live amongst the Black Howler Monkeys. You may have noticed that it is called a Baboon Sanctuary, but I told you that Black Howler Monkeys live there, that fact is that Baboons don’t live in Belize, but “Baboon” is the slang word for the Black Howler Monkeys. While at the sanctuary we saw two troupes of monkeys each with four individuals, one with 2 females, a juvenile, and one male; the other troupe with 2 males, 1 female, and and infant. This sanctuary is an important example of people coexisting with nature, a lot of people view their home and nature separately, but the CBS proves that you don’t have to pick between development and the environment.
The day after the Community Baboon Sanctuary, our group woke up at 4:30 to go bird banding in Runaway Creek Nature Preserve. When we first got there we heard a baby Tapir crying for his mom ,and later we saw both sets of their footprints in the mud. For bird banding you set up mist nets to catch birds, and check them every thirty minutes, so that the bird isn’t in the netting for too long.Bird banding is used to gauge population size, longevity, and migration patterns of the birds. While we were there we were able to catch and band five birds! Later that day, we went to the Zoo for a bone lab, where the group put together a jaguar and a jaguarundi skeleton.
Everything so far has been lots of fun, can’t wait to share more with you guys!