look up into the clear blue sky above reveals a wonderful
collage of brilliant colors flying through the cool sweet
air, leaving behind a lingering rainbow of red, yellow and
blue. The magnificent Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao)
have chosen the small Mayan Village of Red Bank in South
Stann Creek as their seasonal feeding grounds, amounting
to the largest concentration of Scarlet Macaws in Belize
and the entire Central American region.
the skies above
miles down the Southern Highway, there is a sign pointing
westward to Red Bank Village. Just four miles in
on a dirt road (that gets messy in the rainy season) lies
the small, quiet and young village (only established 16
years ago) of Red Bank. The story of the large flocks
of macaws in the area only became known to wildlife preservation
organizations a couple years ago when they had reason to
believe that the villagers of Red Bank were hunting the
Macaws for food. Being an endangered specie and rare specie
to Belize, the Belize Audubon Society and Programme for
Belize immediately developed plans that would include setting
up a tourism venture in the village and educating the villagers
about the importance of the bird and ways in which the birds
may possibly be financially beneficial to their livelihood.
The ‘Scarlet Macaw Group' was formed with members from the
village. Mr. Geronimo Sho is the chairman of the
group and is the person to contact before visiting the site.
It is also important to call first to confirm whether
the macaws have arrived.
field in village
villagers who were familiar with the bird's seasonality
and feeding grounds were trained to be licensed tour guides.
A guest cabana was built that includes four separate
rooms to rent. Dining can be arranged at the Kitchen/Mess
hall where the village's Women's Group prepare local dishes.
Since the village resources are limited, guests should feel
free to bring along any niceties and supplies that they
year around Mid-January through to March, the large flock
of Scarlet Macaws (sometimes numbering 200 pairs) fly out
of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in the Cayo District and
gather near the village to feed on the sweet, ripe fruits
of the ‘annato' and ‘pole wood' trees. A steep hike
with one of the local tour guides through a jungle path
will take you to the Scarlet Macaw haven. Visitors
are dazzled by the vibrant colors of the magnificent creatures
as they fly overhead or perch on branches above and all
around, feeding on the sweet fruit that lures them to the
site every year. Apart from the seasonal arrival of the
Scarlet Macaws, Red Bank is also home to many other species
of birds year round. Commonly seen are hummingbirds,
herons, toucans, oropendolas and parrots. Remember
to bring along your binoculars, a reference bird book and
your hiking gear.