Photos, Video, and Audio of Wild Toucans in Belize

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Wild Toucan and Iguana in same tree!

This morning the Keel Billed Toucans that live at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize decided to stop by a large Fig Tree located near the entrance to the hotel grounds. Maybe they had a message for the large male iguana also sharing the space. More likely both animals were all there to eat the ripening fruits.

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Hey Iguana what happened?

Normally it is the distinct call of the toucan that alerts guests and birdwatchers that these beautiful animals are nearby. The song of the toucan sounds almost like a croaking frog if tropical birders do not know what they were listening for. When multiple birds get together in the same tree, the noise is unmistakable.

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Multiple toucans in one tree

Each bird was calling and croaking like a frog. They were bobbing their heads and doing the Toucan shuffle, trying to get lucky no doubt…


Because there were so many Toucans we though it might be a great opportunity to hear the audio of the birds with some video, so we rushed for the point and shoot camera and took this quick 1 minute video of the bird calls. This is a nice reference to understand what a toucan sounds like. A top birdwatcher is an even better bird listener.

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Easy toucan bird watching in Belize

It was another great moment in birding that our guests can expect to enjoy every time they arrive at our 100 acre property. It is not guaranteed that you will see 5 toucans in a tree but if you hang around long enough, we are sure you will be happy with what you find and photograph. Here is a run down of some other birdpics we have been lucky enough to get.

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Three’s company and four’s a crowd

Hopefully the lady toucans liked what they saw from the fancy red bird butt feathers this guy was showing off this morning.

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Peace out cuz!

Or maybe he was just telling his sisters to kiss mine before he flew off to the next tree!?!

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Keel Billed Toucan bird call sounds kinda like frogs croaking

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It seems as if this toucan was gesturing with his wing feathers in front. Throwing up his westside gang sign?

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Toucan mating ritual or unknown gang affiliation?

In all seriousness it was likely some form of mating exercise which we were lucky enough to witness. One every guest can hopefully see for themselves by visiting the lovely grounds at Lower Dover located between Belmopan and San Ignacio, only 1/2 mile from the Western Highway. toucan14 toucan15 toucan17

Remember what happened this time last year? We think these toucans might be considering having babies in the Bullet Tree on the Medicinal Plant trail. These baby bird photos below were taken in late May 2012 so only time will tell!

Baby bird photo of Keel-Billed Toucan

Baby bird photo of Keel-Billed Toucan

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

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Agouti a.k.a. Gibnut Pictures from Jungle Hike at Lower Dover

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Gibnut eating seeds on hiking trail at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

Early this morning we witnessed a rather large gibnut eating seeds from the Guanacaste tree near the edge of the deciduous rain forest at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge. We were giving a tour of the Maya ruins and medicinal plant trail when this bush meat delicacy stepped across the jungle path.

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Royal rat, suitable for Queen Elizabeth II

When Queen Elizabeth II famously visited Belize during her tour of the country in 1985 Gibnut was the main course. Today some in the country still call it the “royal rat” because of this. Still agouti meat is prized by hunters and the animal is threatened for that very reason.

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Wildlife photos are always possible when hiking the jungle trails at Lower Dover

Gibnuts enjoy the 100 acres of jungle habitat at Lower Dover because of the abundance in food and direct access to water on three sides. It is not uncommon to see evidence of paca (as it is known in the rest of the world) surrounding the forest floor. Their primary food source here is the Cohune Palm nut, which is very rich in oil content. This is one main reason for the unique and sought after taste for special Belizean occasions. We only shoot with cameras at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge so you will never taste it here, but ask around in local circles and they are sure to point you in the right direction depending on how badly you want it…

Photo Tour from Western Belize – El Pilar Maya Monuments

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**ALL WORDS & INFORMATION BELOW COPIED FROM SIGNS POSTED AT PARK**

Known timeline at El Pilar:

1000 B.C. – First Established occupation across the Maya forest

700 B.C. (Early  Pre-Classic) – First public monuments established at El Pilar

  • First constructions at Xikna
  • Earliest occupation of Tzunu’un household
  • First occupation of Tikal – 30 miles west

250 B.C. (Pre-Classic) – Public monuments at  Tikal constructed

  • Plaza Copal designed and completed at El Pilar
  • Xikna expanded at El Pilar
  • Development of Plaza Axcanan at El Pilar
  • Major occupation of the El Pillar area

250 A.D. (Early Classic) – Tikal emerges as regional power center in Maya forest

  • Maintenance and stability at El Pilar
  • Construction at Plaza Jobo at El Pilar

600 A.D. (Late-Classic)

  • Major construction on Xikna at El Pilar
  • Tikal re-assumes regional power in Maya forest

800 A.D. (Terminal Classic)

  • 869 A.D. – Last dated construction at Tikal
  • Continued construction at El Pilar until 1000 A.D.

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One of the defining features of El Pilar is how the site blends the archaeological monuments of yesterday with the Maya forest of today. This philosophy is easily visible in the main plazas where you can walk beneath the canopy.

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Plaza Copal was established in a major phase of development during the Late Pre-Classic period (250 BC – 250 AD). This represents an incredible focus of work and effort, demonstrating the power and importance of El Pilar as a regional center.The buildings around the plaza were repeatedly remodeled over nearly 2 millenia and reached their final appearance in the Late Classic Maya period (600 – 900 AD)

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Plazas are an integral part of sites throughout Mesoamerica. These open, easily accessible plazas were important public areas, and served as ceremonial centers and meeting places. Other more enclosed plazas, such as Axcanan, represent exclusive areas within centers of power. Plazas have often been cleared to provide a full view of the monuments.

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The majestic temples of the Maya still rule over the forest, a thousand years after they were abandoned. Archaeological research has focused on these ceremonial centers, but where were the living places of the Maya populace? At El Pilar, there is an example of both the power elite and the domestic household. Maya temples were designed and built, they redesigned and rebuilt, over and over again in many phases of construction, creating layers, much like an onion. For example, Xikna was remodeled over 1700 years. Temples are grouped around plazas and usually face the cardinal directions: North, East, South, and West.

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Wooden staircase to Maya temple view

Although many of the monuments at El Pilar have been excavated, most of them remain covered by the forest. When archaeologists expose monuments at El Pilar, they use selective restoration  a method that requires less maintenance that complete reconstruction. All exposed monuments must endure the heat and moisture of the tropics, which deteriorate the limestone once it has been exposed. When the Maya inhabited the site, the monuments were plastered and maintained by a fleet of civil servants who would repair the stucco, paint the surfaces, and clean the grounds. Today, El Pilar must rely on the work of a few park rangers to care for all of the structures.

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Grave wall at Xikna – El Pilar

In 1983 before restoration a Maya milpa (or farm) existed in Plaza Copal, which was full of corn and clear of trees. Today stands 30 years of jungle rejuvenation.

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Plaza Copal at El Pilar

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Old School Railing design circa 1000 B.C. Maya

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Basket Tie-Tie Rope lashing securing the natural wood railings

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Don’t be another Maya sacrifice, watch your step down!

The trees of Plaza Copal range from 8-20 meters and provide an excellent habitat for the many diverse species of birds who live here. Furthermore  as you can feel, the shade provided by these trees makes El Pilar a cool respite in the hot, humid tropics. Encouraging the forest canopy at El Pilar makes the reserve more enjoyable for tourists and inviting for wildlife.

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Basket Tie Tie Maya designed bench – natural fibers straight from the jungle vine!

Approximately 800 meters to the west of Plaza Copal is the plaza complex of Pilar Poniente.The western area of El Pilar lies in what is now Guatemala. The two sides of El Pilar were joined by a causeway that runs almost due west and was plastered over in much in the same way of the plazas. The causeway is still visible but covered by thick jungle and and unguarded border crossing!

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Wildlife Photos of El Pilar – Lizard on a tree

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Orchids in the Canopy

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Young Strangler Fig Tree / Vine

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Looters Trench in Maya Monument

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Looters trench and tree vines – El Pilar

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Sotzna Tunnel – El Pilar Archaeological Reserve

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Enterance to Maya tunnel at El Pilar Maya Settlement in Cayo District, Belize

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Stepping inside a dark Maya tunnel without a torch!

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Excavated and reconstructed Maya tunnel between temples

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Plaza Jobo – El Pilar Maya Tour in Western Belize

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Royal Residence – El Pilar Maya Site

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Reconstructed Maya limestone wall

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Arched doorway unique to Maya elite residence

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Stone bench inside Maya elite room

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View from the top of Kin structure, looking down into elite structure

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Arched doorway from inside the Maya room

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Kin Maya Temple – El Pilar, Belize

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Lookout view of Guatemala from Kin Structure at El Pilar Belize Maya Monument

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Birds Without Borders Birding hike at El Pilar, Belize

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Maya tour signs are available for self-guided tours

The Maya houses were grouped around plazas or patios where daytime events took place.  Each structure faced onto the patio, was built to suit specific needs of the family, and serve domestic purposes. The family compound had an eastern shrine that served their local spiritual needs. The large southern building was suited for receptions. The northern spacious structure would be comfortable for privacy, relaxation, and sleeping. Other buildings are imagined to be fore other household needs like kitchen and storage.

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Tzunu’un Maya thatch house with choune tree leaf and tie tie rope

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Tzunu’un Maya stone house structure at El Pilar

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The Maya Forest Garden at El Pilar

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Diagram of the Maya Forest Garden Polyculture Theory by Dr. Anabel Ford

The Maya lived on the same land for thousands of years supporting a population far greater than current density. The Maya Garden at El Pilar demonstrates how the ancient Maya may have worked the land.

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Maya Garden Flower

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Maya tree identification signs

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Maya tree in the forest garden – “Pacaya”

For more information on El Pilar and the archaeology seen there visit the BRASS website.

http://www.marc.ucsb.edu/elpilar/

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf Cutter Ants Harvesting Cashew Leaves at Lower Dover

These Leaf cutter Ants were caught red legged with our cashew leaves the other day! We had to get a camera before spraying our organic poison on them. In a spray bottle mix dish soap, dirt from the ant nest, and water around the base of the tree and on the leaves. This does the trick 90% of the time. Supposedly there is a Maya prayer for the other 10 percent? We have to learn that one!