Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (CTWS) contains a mosaic of wetland and terrestrial habitats, which make it one of the best birding destinations in Belize.
From the commonly seen Northern Jacana to the elusive Sungrebe, Crooked Tree offers an enjoyable experience for birders of any skill level. With 16,400 acres of lagoons, creeks, logwood swamps, broadleaf forest and pine savanna, you will be sure to see a wide array of wildlife.
The Sanctuary protects globally endangered species including the Central American River Turtle (locally known as Hicatee), Mexican Black Howler Monkey, and Yellow-headed Parrot.
Crooked Tree is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, especially as waterfowl habitat, under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. During Belize’s dry season many resident and migratory birds find refuge in the lagoons. Each year, on February 2nd, the Belize Audubon Society celebrates World Wetlands Day in the buffer communities of CTWS. A key to the conservation success of this globally significant wetland, is local community involvement.
The Jabiru stork is Crooked Tree’s most famous resident. Belize has the largest nesting population of these great birds in all of Central America. Jabiru storks arrive in November to nest in the lowland pine savannas. Two pairs of Jabiru storks are known to nest within the Sanctuary. After the young fledge, in April and May, the birds from the northern and central parts of Belize congregate at Crooked Tree and Mexico Lagoons. When the rains come, the birds leave to return again the following November.
Jabiru stork protection was the Belize Audubon Society’s first advocacy project. In 1973 the Jabiru stork was added to Belize’s list of protected animals.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, the first Wildlife Sanctuary declared by the Government of Belize, was gazetted on December 8, 1984
On August 22, 1998, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary was declared Belize’s first Ramsar site based on the wetland’s significance, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is just three miles off the Phillip Goldson Highway (Formerly Northern Highway).