The Keel Billed Toucan (Ramphastos Solfurantus) is the National Bird of Belize. It is noted for its great, canoe-shaped bill, brightly coloured green, blue, red and orange feathers.
The bird is about 20 inches in overall length. It is mostly black with bright yellow cheeks and chest, red under the tail and a distinctive white patch at the base of the tail.
Toucans are found in open areas of the country with large trees. They make a monotonous frog-like croak that really does not compliment its beautiful colors.
Toucans like fruits, and eat by cutting with the serrated edge of their bills. Toucans nest in holes in trees, using natural holes or holes made by woodpeckers, often enlarging the cavity by removing soft, rotten wood.
They lay two to four eggs which are incubated by both parents. The nesting stage lasts from six to seven weeks.
The colorful, giant bill, which in some large species measure more than half the length of the body, is the hallmark of toucans. Despite its size it is very light, being composed of bone struts filled with spongy tissue of keratin. The bill has forward-facing serrations resembling teeth, which historically led naturalists to believe that toucans captured fish and were primarily carnivorous. Today it is known that they eat mostly fruit. Researchers have discovered that the large bill of the toucan is a highly efficient thermoregulation system, though its size may still be advantageous in other ways.
The Tapir or Mountain Cow (Tapirello Bairdii) is the largest land mammal of the American tropics.
The tapir is a stoutly built animal with short legs, about the size of a cow and weighs up to 600 pounds.
Its general colour is dusty brown with a white fringe around the eyes and lips, white tipped ears and occasional white patches of fur on the throat and chest.
In spite of it’s local name, the tapir is not a cow. It is closely related to the horse and is also kin to the rhinoceros.
The tapir is a vegetarian. It spends much of its time in water or mud shallows, and is a strong swimmer. The National Animal is protected under the wildlife protection laws of Belize, thus the hunting of the tapir is illegal.
Baird’s Tapir has a distinctive cream-colored marking on its face and throat and a dark spot on each cheek, behind and below the eye. The rest of its hair is dark brown or grayish-brown. The animal is the largest of the three American species and the largest land mammal found in the wild from Mexico to South America. Baird’s Tapirs average up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in length and 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) in height, and adults weigh 150–400 kilograms (330–880 lb). Like the other species of tapir, they have small stubby tails and long, flexible proboscises. They have four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot.
National Flower Of Belize
The Black Orchid (Encyclia Cochleatum) is the National Flower of Belize. This orchid grows on trees in damp areas, and flowers nearly all year round. Its clustered bulb like stems vary in size up to six inches long and carry two or three leaves.
The black orchid flower has greenish-yellow petals and sepals with purple blotches near the base. The “lip” (one petal of special construction, which is the flower’s showiest) is shaped like a valve of a clam shell (hence the name Encyclia Cochleatum) and is deep purple-brown, almost black, with conspicuous radiating purple veins.
Prosthechea cochleata Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Monocots Order: Asparagales Family: Orchidaceae Subfamily: Epidendroideae Tribe: Epidendreae Subtribe: Laeliinae Alliance: Epidendrum Genus: Prosthechea Species: P. cochleata Binomial name Prosthechea cochleata (L.) W. E. Higgins Prosthechea cochleata, formerly known as Encyclia cochleata, Anacheilium cochleatum, and Epidendrum cochleatum and commonly referred to as the Cockleshell Orchid or Clamshell Orchid, is an epiphytic, sympodial New World orchid native to Central America, the West Indies, Colombia, Venezuela, and southern Florida.
Each oblong discoid pseudo bulb bears one or two linear non succulent leaves. The flowers are unusual in that though the labellum is usually below the column in the orchids, in the members of Prosthechea the labellum forms a “hood” over the column. This makes the flower effectively upside down, or non-resupinate. Whereas the species usually has one anther, Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra is an endangered variety that has three anthers and is autogamous, allowing its existence in Florida where no appropriate pollinators appear to be present.
Prosthechea cochleata is the national flower of Belize, where it is known as the Black Orchid.
The Mahogany Tree (Swietenia Macrophilla) is one of the magnificent giants of the Belize rainforest. Rising straight and tall to over a hundred feet from great buttresses at the roots, it emerges above the canopy of the surrounding trees with a crown of large, shining green leaves. The Mahogany Tree is features in Belize’s Coat of Arms and the Belize Flag.
British settlers exploited the forest for mahogany, beginning around the middle of the 17th century. It was originally exported to the United Kingdom in the form of squared logs, but shipment now consists mainly of sawn lumber. The mahogany tree forms part of Belize’s Coat of Arms. The motto “Sub Umbra Floreo” means: Under the shade (of the mahogany tree) I flourish.
Mahogany has a generally straight grain and is usually free of voids and pockets. It has a reddish-brown color, which darkens over time, and displays a reddish sheen when polished. It has excellent workability, and is very durable.
Historically, the tree’s girth allowed for wide boards from traditional mahogany species. These properties make it a favorable wood for crafting cabinets and furniture. Much of the first-quality furniture made in the U.S colonies from the mid 18th century was made of mahogany, when the wood first became available to U.S. craftsmen. Mahogany is still widely used for fine furniture throughout the world.
Indonesian and Belize plantations supply high quality timber to Australian fine furniture makers such as Woodbury House; however, the rarity of Cuban mahogany and over harvesting of Honduras and Belize mahogany has diminished their use. Mahogany also resists wood rot, making it attractive in boat construction. It is also often used for musical instruments, particularly the backs of acoustic guitars and drums shells because of its ability to produce a very deep, warm tone compared to other commonly used woods such as Maple or Birch.
National Prayer Of Belize
Almighty and Eternal God, who through Jesus Christ has revealed Your Glory to all nations, please protect and preserve Belize, our beloved country.
God of might, wisdom and justice, please assist our Belizean government and people with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude.
Let your light of Your divine wisdom direct their plans and endeavours so that with Your help we may attain our just objectives. With Your guidance, may all our endeavours tend to peace, social justice, liberty, national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge.
We pray, O God of Mercy, for all of us that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Your most holy law, that we may be preserved in union and in peace which the world itself cannot give. And, after enjoying the blessings of this life, please admit us, dear Lord, to that eternal reward that You have prepared for those who love You.
Note: The National Prayer of Belize was written by Premier George Price (later to become Belize’s first Prime Minister), prior to independence in 1981.