Located 33 miles northwest of Belize City and just 2 miles off the Northern Highway, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary provides an opportunity to view some of Belize's magnificent wildlife. Established in 1984 for the protection of resident and migrant birds, the sanctuary consists of a network of inland lagoons, swamps and waterways. During the dry season, thousands of birds congregate here, taking advantage of the food resources, and migrants find a safe resting spot on their spring migration back to the north.

The variety of habitats in the Crooked Tree area provides food and homes for a diversity of fauna. Within the logwood swamps roost the nocturnal Boat-billed Herons as well as Chestnut-bellied Herons and Bare-throated Tiger-Herons. Our two species of ducks, the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and the Muscovy, nest in trees along the swamps. Over the open water you will find many birds feeding on the abundant food resources the lagoons provide. Snail kites, feeding exclusively on apple snails, the beautiful Snowy and Great Egrets fishing along the shoreline , all five species of Kingfishers, as well as Ospreys and Black-collared Hawks diving toward the water's surface for a catch, are only a few of the birds that can be seen. Black Creek, with its large trees, provides a home for Black Howler Monkeys, Morelet's Crocodiles, Coatimundi and several species of turtles and iguanas.

Jabiru Storks, the largest flying birds in the New World with a wing span of 10-12 feet, also find a home at the sanctuary. Belize has the largest nesting population of these great birds in all of Central America. The storks arrive in November to nest in the lowland pine savannas. Two pairs are known to nest within the sanctuary. After the young fledge and during the months of 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.

Within the sanctuary is the village of Crooked Tree, established during the logwood era in Belizean history. Because of its relatively easy accessibility by boat, Crooked Tree was one of the first inland villages. But until recently Crooked Tree was still only accessible by boats which traveled up the Belize River and Black Creek. A 3 1/2 mile causeway now connects the village with the Northern Highway. Crooked Tree village is famous for its large mango and cashew trees.

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the Crooked Tree area. Today many of the villagers still engage in traditional small scale farming, livestock rearing, and subsistence farming but increased visitation to CTWS and its visitors center has prompted some villagers to invest in the development of rustic touristic infrastructure and services. Bed and breakfast fast facilities can be made available upon request. The following resorts and lodges also offer excellent accommodations and meals : Crooked Tree Resort Ltd., Crooked Tree Lodge, Bird's-Eye View Lodge and Chau Hiix Lodge. Jex & Sons Boat Tours offer educational and entertaining trips in and around the sanctuary. The resorts offer guided tour services as well.

Visitors are asked to observe the following protective rules and regulations of CTWS :

  • All visitors are required to register at the Visitors Center.
  • Collection of flora and fauna is prohibited.
  • Hunting and fishing are not permitted.
  • Please do not litter.
  • Firearms are not to be taken into the sanctuary.

This information is furnished courtesy of the Belize Audubon Society

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