The Gray-cheeked Nunlet is a small member of the puffbird family. It is 13-15 cm in length, rufous brown with bright cinnamon throat and breast and gray sides of head. It has a bright orange eyering and a relatively long, bluish-gray bill. It is considered rare, and its small size and quiet habits contribute to it being rather inconspicuous! The Gray-cheeked Nunlet lives in the understory of the forest and forest edge, and prefers dense vine tangles and thickets. It perches upright on horizontal branches and vines, and is often quite tame and approachable. Among various vocalizations, it gives a series of 20 or so wheeip notes. It is insectivorous, known to feed on grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles and spiders, and occasionally joins mixed flocks of antwrens and flycatchers. The Gray-cheeked Nunlet is an uncommon resident species in eastern Panama, one of the regional specialties to see at Canopy Camp Darien, and is only found in Panama and northern Colombia.
More to learn: There is much to learn about its breeding ecology, and to date, a Gray-cheeked Nunlet nest has never been discovered.
Focus on Plants
Well-known and very popular for its sweet aroma and flavoring, the Vanilla Orchid is the source of our commerical vanilla extract and perfumes used in many common products. The genus Vanilla consists of 110 species of orchids found throughout tropical regions globally. Two species, V. planifolia and V. pompona, are used commercially and are native to Mexico and Central America. Vanilla is a vine-like plant that grows vertically along tree trunks and has aerial roots for attachment as it climbs. Long, thin stems grown up to 35 meters in length, and large, oblong, thick leaves with a leathery texture extend alternately from the stem. Flowers growing from the leaf axils are large and attractive, usually white and cream colors with greens and yellows. Flowers are short-lived; mature flowers bloom in the morning and close in the afternoon, giving a sweet scent and blooming only once per flower. We are familiar with the term “vanilla bean”; however it is not a true bean, rather the fruit of the plant is a pod 10-20 cm long that ripens gradually over 5-9 months. It turns black when ripe and contains thousands of tiny seeds, and both the seeds and pod are used to create vanilla flavoring. Vanilla plantations require trees for the vines to climb, thus providing open forest habitat for wildlife as well.
Pollination: Flowers are self-fertile but require pollination, achieved with the aid of stingless bees and hummingbirds. Commercially, vanilla is hand-pollinated. Read an interesting article about the discovery of hand-pollination here.
Photo of the Month
The Golden-green Woodpecker is a South American species found in eastern Panama, and is one of the target birds at Canopy Camp Darien. Ted Center shares this photo of a beautiful female Golden-green Woodpecker he took during his recent trip to the Canopy Camp. Click on the photo to view a larger image.
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Recent Sightings and Trip Reports
In the past month we have had great sightings of Sunbittern, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-crowned Antpitta, and rarities including Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Uniform Crake and Crested Eagle! 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!
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Follow the Canopy Family
We have been offering birding tours since 1999 with the opening of the Canopy Tower. As we increased our areas of expertise and noticed the varied interests of our guests, we started offering tours focusing on other wildlife. After birds came mammals in 2006, as Neotropical mammals are fascinating, challenging and rewarding. Our tour roster grew with our Birds & History and Natural & Cultural History tours, introducing a cultural aspect to our nature tours. Over the past few years, we have been working hard to learn the butterflies of Panama, and now too, our Panama’s Brilliant Butterflies tour, introduced in 2014, is running and successful. And coming in 2016, we are planning to offer a special Reptiles and Amphibians of Central Panama tour. While birding tours will always be our top, we are delighted to offer exciting tours covering a wide variety of interests to our guests. Also, visit our Special Tours page for upcoming tour dates in 2016.
On a related matter, Carlos and Evelyn Bethancourt will be at the UK Bird Fair, August 21-23, 2015 in Rutland, England. If you plan to attend this exciting event, please stop by our booth in marquee 2 and say hello! Carlos will also be giving a presentation on the natural splendor of Panama on August 22 at 10:30 am, we hope to see you there!
I would also like to remind you that there is still time to book and save 20% at the Canopy Lodge for September as we celebrate our 10th anniversary!
Best wishes, and I hope to see
you here in Panama soon,
Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder
LAST-MINUTE DEAL: 20% OFF AT CANOPY LODGE
We are thrilled to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Canopy Lodge! Book your stay at the Canopy Lodge for September 2015 and receive a 20% discount. Discount applies to standard room rates and our Birds of the Canopy Lodge all-inclusive 7-night birding package. Contact us now and celebrate with nature and savings at the Canopy Lodge in Panama!
Canopy Family News
Final Solar Panels Installed at Canopy Camp Darien
After the initial installation of 21 solar panels in April 2014, last week we installed an additional 9 panels at the Canopy Camp. We now have 30 panels with a total max capacity of 7.8kW. We are thrilled that 100% of the Camp's 24/7 electricity is generated by clean, renewable solar energy! Raul says, “It is wonderful to produce clean electricity for our guests, and give a tiny, but not insignificant, contribution to the health of the ozone layer”. Here is a short video of the solar panels being installed.
Butterflies of Panama at the BioMuseo
Interest in butterflies is booming! On July 25, Canopy Family resident biologist Jenn Sinasac gave a presentation about the “Butterflies of Panama” at the new BioMuseo in Panama City. Jenn enthusiastically spoke about the diversity of butterflies worldwide, general characteristics and behaviors, and how to identify the general types of butterflies. She entertained an audience of over 70 people, and then took the group to a flower patch in the BioMuseo’s biodiversity park to look at monarchs, whirlabouts and several species of skippers! We love to see people getting interested and involved in nature. Butterflies are very popular, and Panama has a great wealth of them! Our Panama’s Brilliant Butterflies tour is a great way to learn more about these fascinating creatures; check out our website for upcoming dates in 2015 and 2016. You can also see our recent butterfly trip list here.
Recent Guests at Our Lodges
Carlos Bethancourt, Terry Dunn and friends had a superb time during our recent 6-night Rainforest Ecology and Conservation Tour. They enjoyed on all things tropical nature at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge, and Terry gave interesting presentations in the evenings about tropical ecology and conservation. Read the trip report here!
Also known as “Pink-tipped Satyr” and “Blushing Phantom”, this pretty, delicate butterfly is a member of the Nymphalidae family, the brushfoots. It is one of the many striking, beautiful butterflies of tropical America, ranging from Mexico to South America. Its clear wings lack scales, revealing the transparent wing membranes, highlighted with iridescent bright pink on the hindwings and an ocellus or “false eye”. It rests with its wings folded, raising its hind wing perhaps to resemble a small snake, deterring lizards or birds from eating it. This solitary, crepuscular butterfly flies primarily at dawn and dusk, close to the ground in deep, shady rainforest and cloud forest. It has a slow and bounding flight pattern. It rests often on the ground or low vegetation, but is easily disturbed and capable of moving fast to evade predation. Rusted Clearwing-Satyrs feed on rotting palm fruits and fluids from decomposing fungi. In Panama, they are found in the foothills up to 2000 meters in elevation, and are fairly common around the Canopy Lodge.
Sneak peek at next month's Canopy Family newsletter...
Here's a clue to next month's featured bird...
Stumped? Visit our Canopy Family Flickr Photostream and browse our photos for this upcoming featured bird!