Canopy Family Panama


Best of Central Panama Birding Trip continued...

Dusky-faced Tanager by Arthur Morris
Dusky-faced Tanager by Arthur Morris

Day 8
Canopy Tower/Departure to Canopy Lodge
Canopy Lodge Grounds & Feeders 

No need to wake up early for today's birding trip. After a leisurely breakfast and a last look at the birds from the Observation Deck, we'll board a comfortable air-conditioned van for the 2-hour ride to El Valle de Antón, also known as Crater Valley.  We will spend seven nights at this lovely village, nestled in the crater of a long dormant volcano that last erupted 5 million years ago. The resultant scenery is quite unique: a steep valley surrounded by jagged peaks and filled with flowers, streams and verdant forests.  We arrive in time for lunch.  Our home for the next seven nights will be the Canopy Lodge, sister lodge of the Canopy Tower, a charming eco-lodge built next to a bubbling mountain stream and adjacent to the protected area of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument.  At 2,400-feet in elevation, you will immediately appreciate the noticeably cooler temperatures here!  A member of our staff will greet you as you arrive at the Lodge, and you will be provided with an orientation on the use of the facilities.  At this time we will answer any questions you may have.  As your luggage is being ferried to your room, or after you get settled in, you may visit the dining area and enjoy a refreshing drink and snack.  You will immediately want to scan the bird feeders and grounds! You can see a variety of Panamanian birds, including Crimson-backed, Blue-gray, White-lined, Flame-rumped, Dusky-faced & Plain-colored tanagers, along with Red-crowned Ant-Tanager are about, as are Thick-billed Euphonia, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Streaked & Buff-throated saltators, Lineated & Red-crowned woodpeckers, Red-legged Honeycreepers, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Social Flycatcher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Barred Antshrike, Clay-colored Thrush, Rufous Motmot; Rufous-tailed, Snowy-bellied & Violet-headed hummingbirds and Garden Emerald!  Lunch and Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 9
 AM: La Mesa Road (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)

After breakfast, we continue our birding trip with a trip to La Mesa Road. This area, which is a visually pleasing blend of secondary forest, scrubby pastures, overgrown fincas and grassy borders, is home to many of the area’s specialties. Here is where we look for such great Panamanian birds as Spot-crowned Barbet, Cinnamon Becard, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Silver-throated, Golden-hooded, Tawny-crested & Bay-headed tanagers, Spot-crowned Antvireo and Spotted Woodcreeper; hummers such as, White-tipped Sicklebill, Rufous-crested Coquette, Crowned Woodnymph and Black-throated Mango.  Also resident are Blue-throated Toucanet, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Orange-bellied Trogon.  Lunch at CANOPY LODGE.

PM: Cariguana (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)

With a full stomach and some rest, we continue our birding trip at the Cara Iguana Trail, where we enjoy outstanding foothill birding in some of the last remaining examples of quality Dry Pacific Forest.  Specialties we hope to find in this bird-rich habitat are Lesser Elaenia, Yellow-olive & Panama flycatchers, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-breasted & Rufous-and-white wrens, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Tody & Whooping motmots and Long-billed Gnatwren. We may also see such Panamanian birds as the Striped Cuckoo, Little Tinamou, Common Potoo, Dusky & White-bellied antbirds, Barred Antshrike, White-winged Becard, Tropical Screech-Owl and Bat Falcon. Hummers to watch for are Garden Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat and White-vented Plumeleteer.  During migration we look for Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green & Worm-eating warblers.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 10

Pacific Dry Forest & Santa Clara Beach (45 min. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY

After breakfast we are off for a full-day birding trip in the Pacific Dry Forest and its wonderful suite of Panamanian birds! Among the birds we will be seeking out today are Yellow-headed Caracara, Roadside, Gray-lined & Short-tailed hawks, Peregrine & Aplomado (rare) falcons, White-tailed Kite and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.  We will also search for Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Brown-throated Parakeet, Blue Ground-Dove, Crested Bobwhite, Red-breasted Blackbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Crested Oropendola.  We stop at a spot where we sometimes find Common Potoo.  Hummers to be on the watch for in this unique scrubby area are Veraguan Mango (near-endemic!) and Garden Emerald. We take a pause in our birding trip to enjoy a picnic lunch at a popular beach at Santa Clara where we hope to spot Sapphire-throated Hummingbird working the coastal shrubbery. You may want to bring your bathing suits to take a dip in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean (80F/27C).On the beach or flying by we look for Panamanian birds like the Least, Western & Spotted sandpipers, Sanderling, Blue-footed & Brown boobies, Sandwich, Royal & Elegant terns and Franklin's & Laughing gulls. At Juan Hombron rice fields we hope to find Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Crested Caracara, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Southern Lapwing, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Savanna & Common Black hawks and Pearl Kite.  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 11
Altos del Maria (1 hr. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY

Departing early in the morning after breakfast, we drive from El Valle in air-conditioned 4x4 SUVs up into the mountains for today's birding trip. As the sun rises over the highlands ahead of us, spectacular mountains, vast valleys and towering cliffs come into view! Set in the mountains on the continental divide east of El Valle, Altos del Maria provides a spectacular addition to the Best of Central Panama Birding Trip. Ascending an excellent paved road, we will climb a ridge to our destination, an expansive area of cloud forest at 3,600 ft.  This area harbors an exciting variety of highland forest birds.  Some of the characteristic Panamanian birds of this cloud forest include Black-crowned Antpitta, Black-headed Saltator, White Hawk, Barred Forest-Falcon, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail, Russet & Great antshrikes, Tufted & Sulphur-rumped flycatchers, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, White-ruffed Manakin, Ochraceous Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Pale-vented Thrush, Green Shrike-Vireo, Yellow-billed Cacique; Black-and-yellow, Bay-headed, Dusky-faced & Tawny-crested tanagers; White-vented Euphonia, Slate-colored Grosbeak and Yellow-eared Toucanet.  Even the bizarre Brown-billed Scythebill is seen here regularly.  Hummers we may spot include Band-tailed Barbthroat, the exquisite Snowcap, Garden & White-tailed emeralds, Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, White-tipped Sicklebill and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer.  After a picnic lunch in the field, we will drop down into a valley and climb to the ridge on the opposite side.  Reaching some large swaths of mature humid forest along this ridge, we will explore some trails and roadside spots in search of even more forest birds.  Around mid-afternoon, we will head back into El Valle for some relaxation time prior to dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 12
AM: Cerro Gaital (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)

Today after breakfast, we proceed to Cerro Gaital, a steep, forested, mist-shrouded mountain that you see from the lodge!  Cerro Gaital (3,500’) is the namesake of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument, which protects more than 335 hectares of mature cloud forest.  This area offers sightings of Black Guan, Blue-throated Toucanet, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Barbtail, Common Bush-Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Black-headed Antthrush, Slaty Antwren, Spot-crowned & Plain antvireos, Black-faced Grosbeak, Blue Seedeater, Rufous-capped Warbler, Gray-headed Kite, White Hawk, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Pale-vented Thrush, Northern Schiffornis, White-tailed Emerald, Green-crowned Brilliant, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Crowned Woodnymph.  Scaled Antpitta and Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo have been recorded here!  Back for lunch at the CANOPY LODGE.

PM: Las Minas Trail (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)
After lunch, we head to Las Minas, an excellent place to get a wide variety of Panamanian birds. The road follows the ridge line, with sweeping vistas of forested mountains, speckled with grasslands and small fincas.  The views from here are fantastic, as on a clear day near the summit, both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be seen!  Specialties of the region include Black-and-yellow, Bay-headed & Emerald tanagers, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Gray-headed Kite, Barred Hawk, Bat Falcon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, White-tipped Sicklebill, Green Thorntail, Orange-bellied & Black-throated trogons, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Plain Antvireo, the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Spotted Woodcreeper, Red-capped & White-ruffed manakins, Band-rumped Swift and Black Guan have all been recorded here!  A forested slope here is also our best chance for Black-headed Antthrush!  We get back in time to enjoy appetizers before dinner at the CANOPY LODGE.

Day 13
Rio Indio & Jordanal (40 min. from Canopy Lodge) FULL DAY

After breakfast we depart for a fun-filled day of Caribbean Slope birding!  These fine, forested, new areas are not well-birded—by anybody—so who knows what might turn up! First stop is at Rio Indio, a great spot to try for the area's most recognizable Panamanian birds—Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Spot-crowned Barbet and Barred Puffbird! We also strive to find Crested Oropendola, White-vented Euphonia, Buff-rumped Warbler, Long-tailed Tyrant and raptors, such as White & Gray-lined hawks and Black Hawk-Eagle, as well as White-collared & Band-rumped swifts. Hummers to look for are Green, Long-billed & Rufous-breasted hermits and White-necked Jacobin. We search for Lineated & Red-crowned woodpeckers, Jet & Dusky antbirds, Lesser & Yellow-bellied elaenias, Tropical Pewee; Dusky, Piratic & Gray-capped flycatchers, Cinnamon & White-winged becards, Black-chested Jay, Bay Wren, along with Tawny-capped Euphonia, Emerald, Bay-headed & Golden-hooded tanagers!  If that is not enough, we hope to see Shining Honeycreeper, finches, such as Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow, as well as Streaked & Buff-breasted saltators!  After a pleasant picnic lunch at a thatched-roof shelter on the Jordanal River, we bird our way back to the Canopy Lodge where a relaxing afternoon awaits us—but not until we check the feeders one last time!  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 14
AM: Watercress Trail (15 min. from Canopy Lodge)

After breakfast we are off to watercress trail, named after the herb (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) which is commercially grown in the terraced creek near the entrance.  This easy trail traverses through good secondary forest, which is framed by picturesque forested mountains of Cerro Gaital Natural Monument.  Good birds here are Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, Great Antshrike, White-ruffed Manakin, White-thighed Swallow, White-bellied Antbird and Tody Motmot; hummers, such as Long-billed Starthroat, Rufous-crested Coquette and, when the Inga is in bloom, we scan for Snowcap!  We will also listen for Purplish-backed Quail-Dove.  Lunch at CANOPY LODGE. 

PM: Valle Chiquito (20 min. from Canopy Lodge)

After lunch we are off to Valle Chiquito!  This valley is accessible by a newly paved road and passes through nicely forested woodlands crossed by two rivers.  At Rio de Jesus we search for Green Kingfisher and listen for Sepia-capped Flycatcher.  We also see a nice colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas in a Cecropia tree.  We also try for Tody Motmot, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-backed Oriole, White-bellied Antbird, Gray-chested Dove, Yellow-billed Cacique, Zone-tailed & Gray-lined hawks, Black Hawk-Eagle, Lance-tailed Manakin, Panama Flycatcher, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Little Tinamou, Long-billed Starthroat and Garden Emerald.  Wrens are abundant here, with Black-bellied, Rufous-and-white, Bay, and Rufous-breasted wrens all lurking about in the thickets!  Dinner at CANOPY LODGE.

Day 15
Departure to Airport (about 3 hrs. from Canopy Lodge)

After a leisurely breakfast and some last minute birding in the gardens surrounding the lodge, we will drive back to Panamá City and catch our return flights home.

Please note that this itinerary may change without prior notice due to weather, alterations in habitat or other conditions.

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