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Canopy Family

April 2014

Featured Bird

Fasciated Antshrike Cedric Ng

Fasciated Antshrike
Cymbilaimus lineatus

The Fasciated Antshrike is a member of the antbird family, Thamnophilidae, one of the largest and most fascinating groups of Neotropical birds.  They are large, robust antbirds, 18 cm (7 in.) in length.  Males have fine black and white barring with a black crown, while females are brown with fine barring and have a russet crown.  Both males and females have a striking red eye and a strong, heavy bill with a hooked tip.  They can be found foraging in pairs or in mixed flocks in the midstory levels of lowland tropical forests from Honduras through the Amazon Basin where they catch and eat large insects, arthropods, small lizards and frogs.  They make slow, deliberate moves through the forest, and are most often detected first by their mournful song.  They are fairly common in the lowland forests of Panama up to 900 meters, and are regularly seen at the Canopy Tower, Lodge and Camp.  

Teamwork:  Male and female Fasciated Antshrikes share nesting duties, to incubate eggs, forage for food and defend their young.  If a snake comes close to the nest, both the male and female will team up and kill it with their strong, hooked bills.

Focus on Plants

Star-of-Bethlehem Hippodroma longiflora

Hippobroma longiflora

On the outside, this attractive perennial, with its long, snow-white tubular flower with 5 petals arranged in the shape of a star against dark green leaves, is rather eye-catching. The thick, hairy leaves form a rosette, and are pinnately lobed.  The fruit is a hairy green capsule containing tiny light brown seeds.  However, on the inside, this plant, also called "Madam Fate", gives more bite than its pretty external appearance would suggest.  It is well-known for its concentrations of two powerful alkaloids, lobeline and nicotine. If taken in high dosage, various physical effects including vomiting, trembling, irregular breathing, convulsions and paralysis could occur.  Its milky white sap is a strong irritant, and even just a drop or two of sap in the eye can cause blindness.  On the other hand, in some cultures this plant is used for medicinal purposes, to cauterize and promote healing of wounds.  This plant is native to the West Indies but has been widely introduced and is now common throughout the tropics.  It prefers moist, shady lowlands with moderate rainfall, and can be found around the Canopy Tower, Lodge and Camp. 

Photo of the Month

Sapayoa by David Fisher

David Fisher photographed this rare Sapayoa in Nusagandi on the first day of his week at the Canopy Camp with WINGS Birding Tours in March.  This elusive bird was their main target bird for the trip.  Click on the photo for a larger image. 

New Species List: Fungi of the Canopy Lodge

With the help of mycologist Lawrence Millman, who visited us in January, we have added a list of the Fungi of the Canopy Lodge and Environs.  The interesting and complex world of fungi and mushrooms is another facet of Neotropical forest life not to be ignored.  For any fungi enthusiasts, we hope you enjoy our new list; you can download it, as well as our other species lists, from our website.

Marasmius sp. Canopy Lodge Canopy Tower TripAdvisor

Share Your Experience with Us!

Have you stayed with us lately?  We would love to hear from you! We welcome you to post your comments and experiences on TripAdvisor.  Visit our TripAdvisor pages for the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge, Canopy Camp and Canopy B&B.  If you haven't visited us yet, check out what others are saying!

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Greetings from the Canopy...

Dear Friends, 

Almost two decades ago, I was inspired by an abandoned radar tower.  I saw its potential as the ultimate canopy birding experience, to bring birders here to enjoy the birds of Panama as much as I do.  This year we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Canopy Tower, an accomplishment I am very proud of.  For our anniversary, we would like to celebrate with you!  We are offering special anniversary prices for our popular birding packages this year to commemorate the years that the Canopy Tower has served as its best use, a nature observatory, bringing birders from all over the world up close with the wildlife of Panama.  Please read more about these special offers below.  It's a great year to visit us in Panama!

On an international note, Jenn Sinasac and Eliecer Rodriguez will represent the Canopy Family at the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival hosted by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Oregon, Ohio, May 6-15, 2014.  If you are in the Great Lakes region, stop by this exciting event and say hello to us at the “warbler capital of the world”.  We hope to see you there!


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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Celebrating 15 Years "at the Top"!

Canopy Tower

January 2, 2014 marked the 15-year anniversary of the opening of the Canopy Tower.  Furthermore, we are proud to be a leader in eco-tourism in Panama & Central America and one of the most unique places to stay in the world.  For the past 15 years, we have shared our passion for birding and nature with thousands of guests, who keep coming back for more.  This is an accomplishment we want to share and celebrate with you, our valued customers! 

Great Deals this Green Season!! 

This green season, save 20% for select dates of our Birds of the Canopy Tower, Birds of the Canopy Lodge and Birds of Canopy Camp Darien all-inclusive birding packages.  Please visit our website for more details about this special offer.  These great savings don't come by too often, so contact us soon to book your next great birding adventure in Panama!  

Sloth Rescue at the Canopy Tower!

The Canopy Tower is surrounded by vast lowland rainforest, which holds an incredible diversity of plants and animals, from ground-dwelling armadillos to arboreal tree frogs.  Every so often, we find an injured or orphaned animal, and we do our best to help it and get it in the proper hands for its care and recovery.  

On April 11, Canopy Tower general manager Zelesny Jimenez found a young Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth on Semaphore Hill Road.  It appeared to have fallen from the tree and there was concern that he or she had fractured bones.  Likely still dependent on its mother, this young sloth was taken to the wildlife rescue center at Summit Municipal Park by Canopy Tower staff Felipe Rodriguez, where it will be cared for and hopefully released back into the wild.  

Young Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Canopy TowerYoung Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Canopy Tower

Young Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth on Semaphore Hill Road; Felipe Rodriguez ready to take the sloth to Summit Park.  

CNN Features the Canopy Tower

The Canopy Tower is featured in a recent article by CNN, "10 Quirkiest Hotels in Latin America".  Along with the Palacio de Sal in Bolivia and Montaña Mágica in Chile, these hotels offer more than just your standard room and breakfast—rather a special and memorable experience.  Fifteen years after opening, the Canopy Tower is still being featured as one of the world's most unique hotels and eco-lodges, and this is something we are very proud of!  

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

WINGS at Canopy Camp Darien

WINGS Birding Tours group waiting out the rain at the Canopy Camp during their recent visit in March.  Gavin Bieber, WINGS tour leader, says, “Our goal for this morning was birding around the camp area, and that’s exactly what we are doing."  Later that morning the rain stopped and the group ventured out onto the trails to see Golden-headed Manakin, Double-banded Graytail, Black Antshrike, Blue-throated Goldentail and many others!

Creature Feature

South American Common Toad Rhinella margaritifera

South American Common Toad
Rhinella margaritifera

One animal you are likely to encounter on a walk through the forests of central and eastern Panama is the South American Common Toad, also called the Crested Forest Toad.  This medium-sized, terrestrial toad has a short, pointed snout and is quite variable in appearance; its velvety-textured skin can be patterned or plain, some individuals have a bold vertebral stripe while others have spines down the sides of the abdomen, and some show pronounced cranial crests behind the eyes.  Color can vary from a light tan to dark gray, reddish to bluish.  It is believed to be a complex of up to 16 species!  It feeds mainly on ants, but occasionally eats other small arthropods found in the leaf litter.  This toad is found in the lowland primary and secondary forests of the Amazon basin, the Guianas, and central and eastern Panama, where it camouflages well with the leaf litter on the forest floor.  So on your next walk along Pipeline Road or in the Darien lowlands, keep an eye out in the leaf litter for this toad!

Sneak peek at next month's Canopy Family newsletter...

Here's a clue to next month's featured bird... who am I??  

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