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Canopy Family

August 2014

Featured Bird

Buff-throated Saltator

Buff-throated Saltator
Saltator maximus

Our most widespread saltator, the Buff-throated Saltator is a heavy-billed, grosbeak-like bird.  They have a bright, olive-green back and tail with gray underparts.  Their head is gray with a white superciliary (eyebrow) stripe.  They have black malar (moustache) stripes.  Their buff throat is sometimes bordered by black.  Buff-throated Saltators forage in lower to mid-level forest edge, scrubby areas and woodlands, only entering the forest a short distance.  They feed mainly on fruit and flower corollas for nectar, and are often found foraging in pairs with other frugivorous species.  They breed in Panama from April to July.  Only females incubate the eggs, for 13-14 days.  The young stay in the nest for 13-15 days after hatching and are fed by both parents.  They range from southern Mexico through the Amazon Basin and Atlantic forest of Brazil.  Buff-throated Saltators are common throughout Panama from the lowlands up to 1800 m (5900 ft.).  Watch for Buff-throated Saltators at the fruit feeders at the Canopy Lodge and Canopy B&B. 

Where do I belong?  Saltators are currently classified as “Insertae Sedis”, as their taxonomic position is unknown.  They were formerly included with grosbeaks and buntings (Cardinalidae) but are probably most closely related to tanagers.

Focus on Plants


Lantana camara

Commonly known as Spanish Flag, Wild Sage and West Indian Lantana, this is a well-recognized flowering plant of the family Verbenaceae.  This small perennial shrub grows to 2 meters tall and has small tubular-shaped flowers, each with 4 petals.  Flowers are arranged in clusters at the ends of stems.  It comes in many different colors, depending on location, age and maturity—red-orange, yellow, white and pink.  After pollination, the flower color changes, likely as an indicator to its pollinators.  Fruits are berry-like and turn a deep purple when they mature, and are eaten by birds and animals.  Up to 12,000 fruits can be produced by each plant.  Oval-shaped leaves produce a strong odor when crushed.  Lantana camara can be found in a variety of open habitats and rapidly colonizes in disturbed areas.  It has a lack of tolerance for shade, so it is rarely found in the forest.  It has various medicinal properties as the leaves have antimicrobial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties.  It is native to Central and South America, but has been introduced to Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, spreading to over 50 countries, where it has become invasive.  Hummingbirds and butterflies love Lantana, which can be found in the gardens surrounding the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and Canopy Camp.

Photo of the Month

Black-breasted Puffbird by Rick Brown

A curious Black-breasted Puffbird perched on the observation deck at the Canopy Tower, almost asking to have its picture taken!  Thanks to Rick Brown for this up-close shot of this smart-looking bird.  Click on the photo for a larger image. 

VIDEO: Jim Hazzard shared a video of a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth beside the Canopy Tower during his recent stay.  He named the video "beautiful sloth", and it truly is, as it seems to glide from branch to branch, showing off its brilliant orange back.

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of Rosy Thrush-Tanager, King Vulture, Great Jacamar, Violet-capped Hummingbird and rarities including Orange-breasted Falcon and Sapayoa!  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!

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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, 

On August 15th, 2014, Panama celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal.  The Canopy Tower, once a US Air Force Radar Station, had played a major role in defense of this important waterway in its past, and we feel its connection to the Canal every day.  From the observation deck of the Canopy Tower, we watch large ocean liners pass through this globally important waterway.  Congratulation Panama on 100 years!  With a major canal expansion underway, we look forward to what the future brings.

We are very proud of our national symbols—the Harpy Eagle, our national bird, and the endemic and critically endangered Panamanian Golden Frog, once found in the lush cloud forests around El Valle de Anton.  This month we celebrate the "Rana Dorada", with events in El Valle and Panama City.  Last week the streets of El Valle, just down the road from the Canopy Lodge, filled with locals and tourists alike to watch the Golden Frog Festival Parade, a collaboration of the local government, schools and conservation organizations to promote awareness of this important creature and others at risk.  

Raul Arias de Para

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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak® Recycling Initiative

We have started a new initiative among our lodges and staff collecting Tetra Pak® containers to supply a company that will recycle and use these materials for sustainable products.  Tetra Pak produces beverage cartons containing layers of polyethylene, aluminum and paper, designed to protect the quality of the contents while providing minimal environmental impact.  Tetra Pak cartons are designed to withstand heat, cold and light, and are durable and lightweight.  Among other things, Tetra Paks can be recycled into “Poly Al” panels.  This blend of paper, aluminum and plastic materials creates a strong and efficient, eco-friendly “green roof”, just as we have at the Canopy Camp.  These Poly-Al panels are waterproof, better insulating, and more cost-efficient than other roofing materials.  Companies manufacturing these products can only work as fast as the Tetra Paks they have available; we hope to send them as many as possible!

Canopy Camp Poly-Al RoofCanopy Camp Poly-Al Roof

"Poly-Al" roof made from recycled Tetra Paks at Canopy Camp Darien.  

Social Responsibility: Doing Our Part in Darién

Cleanup Day in Las Peñitas

Our staff from the Canopy Camp in Darién recently helped with a clean-up day in the rural community of Las Peñitas.  This community clean-up day was organized by Senafront (the border control police division in Panama), and we were more than happy to join in!  More hands makes a job go faster and more complete, and rural communities benefit greatly from the help.

Cleanup Day in Las Peñitas

Canopy Camp Darien staff helping with clean up in the community of Las Peñitas.  

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Flights of Fancy Canopy Tower

Flights of Fancy Adventures owner Sam Fried hosted a tour at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge in July.  Among the group, there was interest in birds, butterflies, mammals, insects and plants, making for a fun and memorable trip!  

Creature Feature

Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth by Rick Brown

Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth
Choloepus hoffmanni

Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth is a solitary, arboreal and nocturnal mammal that everyone who visits a rain forest hopes to see!  Adults are 54-72 cm (21-28 in.) in length and weigh up to 9 kg (20 lbs).  They have two toes on their front feet and three on their hind feet.  They are built for an “upside-down” lifestyle, and do just about everything while hanging from tree branches—eating, sleeping, mating and even giving birth!  Their long hair flows from belly to top, contrary to other mammals, so that water flows off them when they are hanging upside down.  Even their internal organs are arranged differently to accommodate their odd orientation!  They have a slow metabolism due to their low-energy diet of leaves.  Slow movement is an adaptation for this, and their metabolic rate is half that of another mammal of the same size.  They have excellent camouflage with the help of algae that grows in longitudinal grooves in their hairs, making them appear green at times.  Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths can be found in lowland humid forest up to 3300 m (10,800 ft.) from Honduras to northwest Colombia, Ecuador and western Amazonia.  Luckily, we are happy to have a healthy population of sloths, and both two-toed and three-toed sloths can be seen commonly at our lodges. 

Two-toed or three-toed??  In addition to a difference in the number of toes on the fore feet, two-toed sloths can be distinguished from their three-toed cousins by their larger size, longer snout, tan to brown long shaggy hair, no visible tail and absence of hair on the soles of their feet, giving them excellent grip.  To meet the Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, check out our March 2013 Newsletter.


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!

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