Today was by far the best day at the Cattle Landing soccer field for hawk watching since I have arrived (site run by Belize Raptor Research Institute). We tallied fourteen species of raptors, including the latest migrant Mississippi Kites for Belize, and a high-flying light adult Swainson’s Hawk! Hook-billed Kites came through in large kettles of up to 24 birds throughout the morning and into the afternoon, giving us a total of 309 for the day! Flocks were mostly too high to ID to age/sex/morph, but many of them streamed right over us. Cattle landing is the only hawk count site in the world where you can see this many migrant Hook-billed Kites at once. We have already doubled last years numbers for Hook-billed Kites.
Highlight of the day, besides hundreds of Hook-billed Kites, was a single juvenile Double-toothed Kite! Initially we thought this bird was a Sharp-shinned Hawk; juveniles have all the basic field marks of a juvenile Sharpie, but cleaner coverts, slightly different streaking, different bill shape, and a central throat stripe. Overall, the features are really just more bold than a Sharpie, but they are both very small bodied.
Before the count, we tallied 50 species for the morning bird walk. New species for me in Belize included Mourning Dove and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I also got a great look at another Yellow-throated Euphonia in the same area where I found Pygmy Kingfisher. Other new species for the day were a Squirrel Cuckoo (heard only) and a single Groove-billed Ani!