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Canopy Family

February 2014

Featured Bird

Long-tailed Tyrant

Long-tailed Tyrant
Colonia colonus

The Long-tailed Tyrant is a medium-sized flycatcher, 12 cm (4.5 inches) in length; they are black overall, with a wide white band encircling their gray crown, and a white stripe down their back.  They get their name from the two elongated central tail feathers that may add another 13 cm to their overall length!  Males have longer tails than females.  They sally for insects from an exposed perch, often returning back to the same branch.  Despite their lengthy tail, they are cavity nesters.  Long-tailed Tyrants live in forest edge and open area habitats.  They are resident in lowland regions (to 1200m) from Honduras south through Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.  In Panama, they are found along the entire Caribbean slope and are most common in eastern Panama, an excellent species to look for at Canopy Camp Darien. 

Bee-ware: Long-tailed Tyrants are insectivores, and have a keen preference for eating stingless bees!

Focus on Plants

Sensitive Plant

Sensitive Plant
Mimosa pudica

The Sensitive Plant is a creeping herb in the Fabaceae family.  It has long, prickly stems that can grow to 1.5 meters in length, and has compound, bipinnate leaves with 10-26 leaflets.  The round, pale pink flowers arise from the leaf axils.  The fruits are clusters of 2-8 pods, 1-2 cm long, containing pale brown seeds with hard seed coats.  The Sensitive Plant is one of the more “entertaining” and memorable plants in a tropical forest—it demonstrates “rapid plant movement”, in which the leaves fold inward and stems droop when touched or disturbed by warming, blowing or shaking.  This behavior is known as seismonasty.  It is believed to aid in predator protection from harmful herbivores.  It reopens shortly after the disturbance has passed.  It grows in shady areas, forests, edges and roadsides, and is pollinated by wind and insects.  The Sensitive Plant is native to Central and South America, and is now distributed throughout the tropics worldwide; it is considered invasive in some areas it has been introduced.  It is common in the forests around the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.   

Did you know?  The Latin word “pudica” means “shy”, “bashful” or “shrinking”.

Photo of the Month

Black-and-white Owl by Roger Rittmaster

Roger Rittmaster photographed this memorable Black-and-white Owl beside tent #8 at the Canopy Camp in January.  Click on the photo for a larger image.  

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the last month we have had great sightings of Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Tody Motmot, Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon, Northern Tamandua, and rarities including Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Agami Heron and Rothschild's Porcupine!  Check out more recent sightings and trip reports for the amazing birds, mammals, reptiles & amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies seen around the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and the new Canopy Camp Darien!

Canopy Family TripAdvisor

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, 

It has been a great start to 2014, with many happy birders at all of our lodges.  We have had a rather “birdy” year so far, with extraordinary sightings—the most notable, a male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird has been a delight to see feeding at the verbena at the Canopy Camp daily.  Check out our Canopy Family YouTube Channel for an exclusive video of this rare species in Panama!  Our recent sightings blog can also keep you up to date on what we have been seeing.  The more we explore, the more we will find.

Also, please visit the Canopy Camp on Tripadvisor, for our first reviews!  We thank you all for your gracious comments for all of our lodges over the years, we love to hear from you!


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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Canopy Family at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in January

Canopy Family was represented by Jerry and Linda Harrison, retired biologist consultants and great friends, at the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida, January 22-26th.  This is the biggest birding festival in the US, and the Canopy Family has been sending Carlos Bethancourt and his wife, Evelyn, for the past several years.  Many people asked, “Where are Carlos & Evelyn?”  We said they could not attend this year due to the opening of Canopy Camp Darien.  Linda gave the “Neotropical Bird ID Workshop”, as well as the popular “Natural Splendor of Panama” presentation.  Jerry and Linda also co-led early morning field trips during the festival. 

It was great for Jerry and Linda to see old friends again and to make new ones, as the Harrisons are no strangers to this popular festival. 

At the festival, we raffled two copies of “The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide” by George Angehr—the winners were Annika Tarver and 11-year-old Gabe Cenker.  Congrats to the winners and we hope to see both of you in Panama soon!

Birds of Panama winnerCanopy Family at the Space Coast Birding Festival

Budding ornithologist 11-year-old Gabe Cenker, winner of a copy of "Birds of Panama: A Field Guide"; Linda Harrison representing Canopy Family at the Space Coast Birding Festival.

Featured Upcoming Tour: Eagle Optics and Leica with the Canopy Family, September 9-17, 2014

Canopy Family, Eagle Optics & Leica have teamed up for this exciting tour based at Canopy Family’s two award-winning lodges—the Canopy Tower in Soberanía National Park and the Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Anton.  This tour has a focus on the best of birding in central Panama.  Through the spectacular equipment of Leica Sport Optics, see the most colorful, interesting and (even) rare birds up close.  This tour also offers great opportunities for digiscoping through Leica’s superior spotting scopes.  Join Canopy Family’s senior guide Carlos Bethancourt, Eagle Optics' Ben Lizdas and Leica Sport Optics birding specialists for this unforgettable trip!  For more information, please contact us.  

Eagle Optics LogoLeica logo

Recent Guests at Our Lodges


Field Guides birding tour group, led by John Coons, at the Canopy Camp this January.  They had a wonderful time, with many great sightings such as Golden-green Woodpecker, Black Oropendola and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird!

VENT at Canopy LodgeVENT at Canopy Lodge

Kevin Zimmer and the VENT group spotting a Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo along the road by the Canopy Lodge; a happy group after seeing this fantastic bird!

Creature Feature

Yellow-headed Gecko

Yellow-headed Gecko
Gonatodes albogularis

The attractive Yellow-headed Gecko is a diurnal, forest-dwelling dwarf gecko native to the warm regions of Central and South America.  It is small, a mere 7-9 cm (2.7-3.5 inches) long.  The Yellow-headed Gecko exhibits strong sexual dimorphism; the males have yellowish heads with brilliant blue facial markings, blue-gray bodies and a black tail with a white tip.  Females are generally a mottled gray-brown overall.  Yellow-headed Geckos feed on terrestrial insects and small arthropods on the forest floor.  They live in tropical dry and humid primary and secondary forests and open areas, are often found around stone walls, and retreat to crevices and holes for cover from potential predators.  They nest at the bases of trees, in buttress roots.  The female lays 1 egg, burying it in a dry area to incubate, and has several clutches per year.  They can be seen around the base of the Canopy Tower, and are rather common at the Canopy Camp as well. 

Fun Fact: Yellow-headed Geckos do not have suction lamellae on their toes like many other geckos, so they cannot stick to smooth, vertical surfaces.  However, they have thin, rough skin on their toes, and can run very fast!

A Word from Our Guests

“The experience was everything we had hoped for - and more.  We enjoyed the special lodging facilities, the wonderful food, the gracious staff and the BIRDING.” 
Mary Ellen Moore & John Balog, who stayed at the Canopy Tower in January

© Canopy Family