One of our regional specialties, the striking Spot-crowned Barbet is only from western Panama to northwestern Colombia. Barbets are plump birds with short necks, large heads and stout, heavy bills. A close relative to the toucans, the Spot-crowned Barbet is fairly small (17 cm) and has mainly black plumage on its head, back and wings, with black, yellow and white underparts and bright orange flanks. Females are similar to males, but have a black throat and breast. Both males and females have pale spotting on their crowns. Spot-crowned Barbets forage in the midstory to canopy, and feed on fruits and insects, often joining mixed flocks and may forage in bands up to 10 individuals. They are even known to follow army ant swarms on occasion! They are generally quiet but will occasionally make a toucan-like croaking call. Like toucans, they nest in tree cavities; however, very little is known about their breeding biology. In Panama, Spot-crowned Barbets can be found on the Caribbean side in western Panama to the Canal area, and on both slopes from central Panama eastward. They are fairly common in the foothills around the Canopy Lodge, and are a common resident around Canopy Camp Darien.
Regional variation: In Darién, Spot-crowned Barbets have bright red on their flanks, instead of orange.
Focus on Plants
The Cuipo is a huge, emergent tree of the lowland rainforests from Nicaragua to Peru. A member of the family Bombaceae (which includes the majestic baobab trees of Africa), this species is easily recognizable by its immense size, growing up to 60 meters tall. The tall straight trunk can grow to 2.5 meters in diameter, and has smooth gray or reddish bark and distinct circular rings in the bark every few meters. It is "pot-bellied" at the base, does not have large buttress roots, and somewhat resembles an elephant's foot. The crown of the Cuipo tree is flat at the base and nicely rounded on the top, and usually emerges entirely above the forest canopy. Leaves are round in mature trees and square-shaped in young trees; however, the Cuipo can be without leaves for up to 11 months of the year, an adaptation for water conservation during the dry season. This tree flowers then fruits between March and May. Flowers are reddish-brown and form on the ends of branches. Fruits are large, oblong green pods, 15 cm long, with five “wings” for dispersal; they turn a brilliant pink over time. The seeds are edible and taste like peanuts! The Guna people of Panama believe that the Cuipo can be a cure for underweight conditions, and its rubbery resin is used to heal infected wounds. The soft wood is used for house construction and dugout canoes. The Cuipo tree is considered near-threatened, primarily due to habitat destruction; they are very important as this species is one of the few large emergent trees that Harpy Eagles use for nest sites. These fantastic trees can be found around the Canopy Tower, and the largest remaining population of the Cuipo tree is found in Darién.
Cool Fact! The Cuipo has the softest wood ever recorded—a Janka Hardness of 22 lbf.
Daniel Arias at the base of a Cuipo at Canopy Camp Darien
Recent Sightings and Trip Reports
In the past month we have had great sightings of Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Sunbittern, Agami Heron, Great Curassow, Great Potoo, Orange-bellied Trogon and cool mammals including Central American Spider Monkey and Collared Peccary! Check out more recent sightings and trip reports for the amazing birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies seen around the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and the new Canopy Camp Darien!
Share Your Experience!
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!
View past issues of our newsletter!
Follow the Canopy Family
This month we are feeling the change of seasons! The spectacular Guayacan Trees are blooming in the forest canopy, which means we are anticipating the wet season to arrive soon. With the rain comes lush vegetation, and the birds and wildlife love it!
We are looking forward to Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Global Big Day on May 9, and are proud to host this exciting event at the Canopy Tower. The event is coming together nicely, and we are ready to go birding and support bird conservation! Please see more details below.
If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch both Birding Adventures TV episodes featuring the Canopy Camp and Darién's Harpy Eagles and Dusky-backed Jacamars! In the episodes, Canopy Family's Carlos Bethancourt and host James Currie go searching for Darién's incredible birds and wildlife, and experience the local culture of eastern Panama.
Best wishes, and I hope to see
you here in Panama soon,
Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder
Canopy Family News
Getting Ready for the Global Big Day in Panama
We are getting ready for Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Global Big Day on May 9, and are proud to host this exciting event at the Canopy Tower! During the week leading up to the big count day, a full 24 hours of birding around central Panama, the team will be scouting the areas, conducting a "Big Sit", eBird workshops and spreading conservation awareness to our guests and Panama's birding community. We encourage everyone, wherever you are, to submit your sightings to eBird on May 9, the Global Big Day, and to contribute to this important event, as Cornell hopes to raise $500,000 for bird conservation (click here to donate) and collectively tally over 4,000 species worldwide in one day! For more information, please check out the Global Big Day website.
LAST-MINUTE SPECIAL AT CANOPY CAMP DARIEN
Welcoming the Green Season! SAVE 15% (a savings of $357.45 per person) on our signature Birds of Canopy Camp Darien birding package during the week of May 16-23. The birds and wildlife are waiting for you in Darién! Please contact us for more details.
Photo of the Month
Linda Harrison captured this Purple-stained Daggerwing (Marpesia marcella) at Cerro Azul last month, yet another new butterfly species added to our growing list and one we will be looking for on our butterfly tour next month! Click on the photo for a larger image.
Recent Guests at Our Lodges
Cotinga Tours of Costa Rica, led by Paco Madrugal (right), spent several days birding at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge recently. Here they are, enjoying happy hour on the observation deck of the Canopy Tower!
Acclaimed lecturer, garden designer and award-winning author and photographer Cole Burrell (right) and his group of garden enthusiasts joined us at the Canopy Lodge for a week of visits to private gardens in Panama City and El Valle de Anton, along with some birding (as Cole is an avid birder himself) and natural and cultural history tours, experiencing the best of Panama!
Choeradodis is a unique genus of mantises that inhabit lowland rainforests. Their common names include Shield Mantis and Leaf Mantis, and are distinguished by their laterally extended, leaf-like thoraxes. This physical feature provides them with excellent camouflage. To aid them further in their goal of leaf mimicry, they have rounded wings and stay relatively flattened, especially when hunting insects. Like other predatory mantises, they strike their prey with their powerful, raptorial front legs. This genus includes several species and is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and Asia. The Hooded Mantis is just one of the many incredible insects we find around our lodges!
Sneak peek at next month's Canopy Family newsletter...
Here's a clue to next month's featured bird... who am I??
Stumped? Visit our Canopy Family Flickr Photostream and browse our photos for this upcoming featured bird!