Jodi and Vance Benté, proprietors of the recently opened Casa del Caballo Blanco Eco-Lodge in Belize, offer 10 tips to create environments that attract and nurture birds. They are also the founders and custodians of the not-for-profit Casa Avian Support Alliance (CASA) whose purpose is to address the needs of the avian community and the conservation of biodiversity in Belize that attracts and sustains over 530 species of migratory and resident birds spotted in a given year.

“"We want to offer our guests something meaningful they can take home with them when they leave Belize. These are some simple but important actions we take in our own California community,"” says Jodi Benté.

  • •    Plant a tree so that local birds can nest, seek shelter and forage for food.
  • •    Plant a sunflower or other plants that comprise bird friendly gardens; watch them gather food for their families and by dispersing the seed, create new gardens.
  • •    Restore habitat and watersheds whenever possible rather than develop.
  • •    Volunteer with local community organizations to assist with the care of wild birds or to participate in ‘green activities’ to learn ways to assist wildlife and to minimize your own footprint on the landscape.
  • •    Recycle all of your paper and plastics; make sure old batteries, like those from flashlights and shop tools, etc. are disposed of properly – not in landfills.
  • •    Avoid purchasing cans and bottles in six-packs with plastic collars; if you must, then be sure and cut each of the six enclosures so that birds, and other wildlife, will not become entangled and choke on them.
  • •    Minimize or discontinue the use of products containing toxic compounds such as certain fertilizers and herbicides that accumulate in our water supply and atmosphere and threaten wildlife habitats.
  • •    Reduce your use of critical resources by selecting products and vendors that manufacture and package with sustainability in mind.  
  • •    Consider re-use and remodeling prior to new development.
  • •    Encourage your family to study the biodiversity in your community and learn, conserve and protect.

The Benté’s six-cabana, eco-friendly accommodation shares 23 acres with the Casa Avian Support Alliance. Guests are encouraged to participate in its work as part of a vacation that combines adventure, relaxation and personal contribution. The CASA project works closely with the Government of Belize’s efforts to protect critical habitat, the loss of which threatens the avian population. This is the first voluntourism program of its kind in Belize.  It has been endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Tourism Program (, Belize Audubon Society, Friends for Conservation and Development and Birds Without Borders.

The Casa’s hacienda-style Main House celebrates the region’s Hispanic culture with high, beamed ceilings, tile floors, hand-made furniture and interior design features hand-crafted by local artisans to evoke the footprint of an ordered, spiritual world of centuries ago. Nestled on a hillside overlooking the Mopan River Valley, the location provides a stunning view of the Mer de Verde, the “Green Ocean,” a site that could likely have been used in a similar manner by the Mayans. The guest quarters, six thatch-roofed, fully screen cabanas, all have en-suite bathrooms, refrigerators, hand-crafted furniture and Mayan-inspired fabrics.

Meals served in an airy, thatch-roofed dining room include Mayan food prepared in centuries-old Quiché, Mopan and Yucatecan traditions. Creole foods combine exotic Hispanic and Caribbean flavors. All produce is fresh from Casa’s own gardens and local markets and prepared locally by Belizeans. For infomation and reservations visit

On-site facilities provide a haven for avian wildlife recently freed from captivity or treated for injury or illness. Here birds can heal, rehabilitate and eventually be released back into their natural habitat. The facility is dynamic and will evolve annually with the guidance and cooperation of the Forest Department, Belize Audubon Society, Friends for Conservation and Development, Aves Sin Fronteras, and other organizations and experts from the avian community.  Visit the alliance website for more information,

Lodge guests are also welcome to join its Passport Program that over time will showcase a half dozen other properties in the Americas with organizations who have similar goals and missions such as avian support.

For information on year-round educational programs and vacation packages, please visit or call 707-974-4942.


SOURCE: Widness PR 



Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".