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Canopy Family

December, 2012

Featured Bird

Spotted Antbird

Hylophylax naevioides

The Spotted Antbird is the smallest antbird found in Panama. At only 4 ¼ inches, the male's dark head, white front with a necklace of black dots and brown back with rusty wingbars make this antbird easily recognizable. The females resemble the males but their colors are more muted. Both have short tails that are often fanned.

Spotted Antbirds are one of the faithful ant swarm attendees, along with two other ant swarm specialists, the Ocellated Antbird and Bicolored Antbird. Spotted Antbird pairs can often be found foraging rather low in the shrubbery away from ants--flipping from branch to branch--hoping to grab insects as they flee the army ants. Always be on the lookout for these jewels of the forest, which are easily seen on Semaphore Hill by the Canopy Tower and at ant swarms near the Canopy Lodge.

Focus on Plants

Miconia impetiolaris

Mule’s-ear Miconia, or “Oreja de Mula,” is a fairly common shrub or small tree belonging to a very diverse family, the melastomataceae, or melastomes.  The genus Miconia is the largest in the family, with over 150 species in Mesoamerica alone.

Miconia impetiolaris, like all members of the family, has opposite leaves, but “mule's-ear” has rather distinctive floppy leaves, hence the common name. Its flowers are small and white, and mature berries are bright red.  This species ranges from southern Mexico to Panama in a variety of habitats but is most common in the lowlands. This specimen is on Semaphore Hill, not far from the Canopy Tower. Other similar species can be found near the Canopy Lodge.


The Canopy Tower Family is proud to announce that we have been accepted as members of the Neotropical Bird Club’s “Neotropical Birding Lodges Network.” NBC is establishing a network of conservation-minded lodges across the Neotropical region that offer opportunities for exciting birdwatching. Membership is by Invitation only and sent to lodges by Club members as offering "good facilities for birdwatching and/or having a strong conservation ethos."

Don't forget to checkout all of the recent trip reports for the amazing birds, mammals, reptiles & amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies seen around the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge! 

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Greetings from the Canopy...

Dear Friends,

We just received the hawk migration data—and impressive data it is! From atop the Canopy Tower, Cesar Pinzon, our hawk counter extraordinaire, recorded migrating hawks from October to November. An amazing 55,363 Swainson's Hawks and 104,333 Turkey Vultures were tallied among others. You can compare this data to last year's data here.  Plan a trip to see next fall's migration by joining us on our Panama's Hawk Migration Spectacular!,  the best way to see not only this phenomenon, but also a great sampling of central Panama birds!

We also had some exciting sightings the last month.  Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo (2 at separate locations within 24 hours!) was seen several times in El Valle on our tours. Other rarities continued to pop up, thanks to the sharp eyes of Eliecer, Moyo, Danilo and Tino, our bird guide specialists!


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


    Raúl Arias de Para

    Canopy Tower Family

Canopy Tower Family News

November was busy: Caligo Ventures, WINGS and Rockjumper Birding Tours all brought birders to Panama!

Rockjumper Birding Tours group after seeing Harpy Eagle in the Darien
WINGS group with leader Gavin Bieber and Eliecer
Caligo Ventures group with guide Danilo (far left) at Canopy Lodge

Creature Feature


Army Ants  Eciton sp.

   There are over 200 species of army ants in the world.  The majority of New World army ants are in the subfamily ecitonini, which contains four genera.  Army ants, unlike most ants, do not build a nest.  Because they are always on the move, they make a temporary resting place, or "bivouac."   The ants make a “ball” by holding onto each other’s legs, with older female workers on the exterior protecting younger female workers, the queen, larvae and the eggs located in the interior of the bivouac.  If the bivouac is disturbed, soldiers gather on top ready to fend off any would-be predators. 
     During the day army ants are always on the move in search of food.  The ants move through the forest leaf litter and even crawl up trees seeking out small vertebrates and invertebrates that get in the ants' way.  Large swarms can be heard moving through the leaves, if you are nearby. These “ant swarms” attract the attention of birds hoping to grab insects fleeing the advancing swarm. Several species of antbirds, woodcreepers, and tanagers are often found with a swarm. If the swarm is large enough,  a Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo may be lurking!  For birders in the Neotropics, it is always a treat to chance upon an army ant swarm in action.  

© Canopy Family