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Canopy Family

March, 2012

Featured Bird


Red-capped Manakin

Pipra mentalis

The Red-capped Manakin is a 4-inch mite of a bird native from Mexico to Peru. The male is striking, with a scarlet cap and nape, white iris, yellow chin & thighs, contrasting with a stark black body; females are olive-green, an adaptation to blend in to the vegetation near a nest. The Red-capped Manakin is one of ten species of manakins found in Panama.  They are common on both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes, found primarily in the lower levels of humid forest and second growth woodland.  Red-capped Manakin is a frugivore, feeding almost exclusively on fruits. These pass very quickly through the bird's digestive system, typically taking less than 20 minutes to digest.  The Red-capped calls include a short quick PPSSSIP!  The males also produce a nonvocal wing snapping sound, which is typical of the species.  Hopeful males gather to perform their courtship ritual of dancing and wing snapping at a display area known as a lek.  Females are mere spectators at the lek and may choose a mate if they are impressed by any of the performances!  You can find an active lek along Semaphore Hill Road, just down from the Canopy Tower.

Focus on Plants

Wallis' Oerstedella

Oerstedella wallisii

Quick facts:



Many other mammals enjoy these plants, including the Brown-throated Three-toed and Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths, both feeding almost exclusively on young Cecropia leaves.   Interestingly, the hollow stems of Cecropia are home to Cecropia Ants, which provide an important defense for the plant and food for other animals, such as woodpeckers, who love to eat the ants and their larvae.

Where to see Cecropia:

Three species are commonly found around the Canopy Tower:  Cecropia peltata (with gray-green leaves) and Cecropia insignis (greener, more wrinkly leaves) are seen from the observation deck and are close to the Tower; Cecropia obtusifolia, may be found along Semaphore Hill Road leading to the Tower.


News Flash...

Canopy Tower & Canopy Lodge are in the lastest edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die !

You can buy it at Amazon!

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Greetings from the Canopy...


Dear Friends,

Welcome to the premier issue of our new Canopy Tower Family (CTF) monthly newsletter, designed to keep you updated not only with happenings with the CTF, but also to be a means to share some of Panama's fascinating and diverse wildlife. Each issue will feature a bird, plant and unique creature.

Many exciting changes have transpired since our last edition, from the “birth” of a new family member, the Canopy Bed & Breakfast (see News of CTF), to expansion of our birding & nature packages, that now includes specialty tours for mammals (Tamarin Tour), Panama’s Natural & Cultural History, Panama’s Birds & History and our Hawk Migration Spectacular--all with a backdrop of unparalleled neotropical birding led by world-class bilingual guides! Visit our Birding & Nature Packages for details and itineraries.

Finally--as a teaser for you to stay tuned to future newsletters--we are in the planning phase of a new, ambitious and very exciting endeavor in eastern Panama.  Curious?


  Best wishes, and I hope to see
   you here in Panama soon,


    Raúl Arias de Para

    Canopy Tower Family

The New Canopy B&B

Canopy Tower Family News

The Canopy B & B is open!

Located  in the town of Gamboa, the beautifully restored former Canal Zone house has five rooms, each with private bath and air conditioning. This is not your typical bed & breakfast, as you won’t be sleeping in someone else’s home. If you wish to explore places around Gamboa on your own, such as Summit Gardens, Ammo Ponds, world famous Pipeline Road or the Rainforest Discovery Center, the Canopy B&B is the perfect place!  Please visit our website for more photos and information.

Giving Back

Canopy Tower Family sponsors Christmas Party for school children in Huile

In December, the Canopy Tower Family took to the road to treat an elementary school in Huile (pronounced WILLIE), on the western edge of the Canal Zone, to a much-appreciated Christmas party. Representing the Canopy Tower were Daniel Arias Barakat, Carlos Bethancourt and Jerry and Linda Harrison. Also helping were Carlos’s brother, Manuel; sister, Gisela; and niece, Rachael, along with Carlos’s kids, Roberto and Cristy. The humble, pleasant three-classroom school is situated on a grassy slope in a perfect setting: amid large trees, small fincas and casas, with the protected Canal Zone rainforest a short walk away.  The surroundings were indeed pastoral and tranquil.  But progress creeps onward even in Huile, as block walls were being erected at the end of the original building. The Huile school was getting an addition!  The classrooms were empty today, as all the students and their desk were under the pavilion for the party. 

This day was devoted to giving and just having a great time.  For the 48 elementary school children, the party began with the traditional piñata smashing.  As the candy hit the floor of the large outside pavilion, the kids scrambled to collect as much as possible. 


The next order of the day was hotdogs, chips, and cookies.  Manny called each grade up for their lunch, beginning with the youngest.  The older fifth and sixth graders waited patiently for their turn.  After lunch, Carlos gave a stirring talk, saying that he had grown up right here in Huile, studied hard, attended college in the U.S. and now works for a successful company.  CTF wanted the children to know how important it is to stay in school and to do well with their studies.


Next, the main event, was handing out gifts!  Each child received a wrapped present!  Once again it was time for the older kids to wait, as Carlos called each student up to receive his or her gift.  Roberto and Cristy helped by handing out presents as the names were announced--all to rousing applause!  Two kids had the willpower to NOT open their present, saying they wanted to wait until Christmas!

The Canopy Tower Family is devoted to giving back to communities such as Huile, not to gain recognition, but because it is the right thing to do.  Plus, it is loads of fun!  As the party concluded, the teachers, children and the parents, thanked each of us. Then they walked home to begin summer break, not with school books, but with a new toy and memories of the day’s fun!

Creature Feature


Red-tailed Squirrel

Sciurus granatensis

    The body length is 17 to 31 inches, and adults weigh 5 to 14 lbs.  Each foot has three fingers, ending in long, curved claws. Males have a black stripe surrounded by orange fur on its back.  They have grayish brown fur, with darker brown on the throat, sides of the face and forehead.  The face is paler in color, with a dark stripe through the eyes.
     The coarse outer hairs cover a softer layer of dense under-fur. The outer hairs have microscopic cracks, housing several commensal algae species. Brown-Throated Sloths also live commensally with a species of moth, Cryptoses choloepi, which lives in their fur, and lays its eggs in the sloth’s dung.
    The Brown-throated Sloth is found from Honduras to Panama and into Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and eastern Peru, from sea level to 3,900 ft.
     Sloths sleep 15 to 18 hours a day and are active for brief periods, during which they feed on young leaves, especially those of cecropias.  They can walk along the ground, and even swim, but they spend most of their lives high in trees, descending once every eight days or so to defecate in the soil. 
     Young sloths cling to the mother's underside for five months or more, even though they are fully weaned after just four to five weeks. The young quickly identify edible leaves by eating from the same trees as their mothers.  You have a great chance of seeing one from the Canopy Tower observation deck!

© Canopy Family