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Canopy Family

January 2015

Featured Bird

Tiny Hawk Carlos Bethancourt

Tiny Hawk
Accipiter superciliosus

Our smallest hawk!  The Tiny Hawk is well named for its small size of 20-28 cm, approximately the size of a starling.  Adults are slate gray above with a dark gray cap, and fine black and white barring below.  Their relatively short tail is dark with 6-7 gray bands.  They have a yellow cere and legs.  Immatures come in two color morphs: brown and rufous, and follow generally the same markings as adults.  Tiny Hawks are rather secretive; they hunt in the forest canopy, sometimes at lower levels in the understory.  Like other accipiter hawks, they are fast fliers and principally feed on small birds.  They are known to concentrate on hummingbirds, which they snatch from perches or during their courtship displays.  They are sometimes seen perching on emergent branches in the canopy, most often in the morning sun, and occasionally in pairs.  Not much is known about their breeding ecology, but in Panama they breed from February to June.  They build a stick nest in the forest canopy, and the female lays 1-3 bluish eggs, spotted with brown.  Their energetic call is a quivering, high-pitched series of 20-30 notes.  Tiny Hawks live in lowland humid forests to 1200 m, and have a wide distribution from Nicaragua south through the Amazon basin and Atlantic Forest of Brazil.  Although considered rare, they may be overlooked due to their small size!

Did You Know?  There is a considerable size difference between males and females in many raptors—female Tiny Hawks are up to 60% larger and are more robust than males!

Focus on Plants

Tree Fern Jerry Harrison

Scaly Tree Ferns
Family Cycatheaceae

Scaly Tree Ferns look like something out of Jurassic Park—in fact, they are ancient plants and originated in the late Jurassic.  They are true ferns (class Pteridopsida) that are rather tree-like in appearance, with trunk-like stems.  The world’s tallest tree ferns are in this family, and can grow up to 20 m tall.  The fronds are some of the largest in the plant kingdom, reaching 3-4 m in some species.  The pinnate leaves are covered in scales and hairs; “sori” or spore clusters are located on the undersides of the leaves.  They are mostly terrestrial (although some are epiphytic).  Tree ferns growing in the forest understory have adapted fronds allowing chlorophyll to photosynthesize more efficiently in lower light conditions.  In the family Cyatheaceae, there are 13 genera; the genus Cyathea is the largest and contains approximately 500 species, although the exact number of species is unknown.  Scaly Tree Ferns are found in wet lowlands to mid-elevations in tropical regions around the world, and there are more than 40 species of Cyathea in Panama alone.

From the Greek: “Cyathea” comes from the Greek word “kyatheion” meaning “little cup”, referring to the cup-shaped sori on the fronds.

Photo of the Month

White-throated Spadebill Pati Rouzer

Pati Rouzer of the Sierra Club shares this photo of a cute White-throated Spadebill seen during their stay at the Canopy Lodge in December.  Click on the photo to view a larger image. 

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of Common Potoo, Speckled Mourner, White-fronted Nunbird, Rufous-winged Tanager, Golden-headed Manakin, and rarities including Sapayoa and Black-billed Flycatcher!  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!

Canopy Tower 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!

View past issues of our newsletter!

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Dear friends, 

Happy New Year!  As we said goodbye to 2014, we reflected on the great year it was; now we are focused on a marvelous 2015, with much to look forward to.  Canopy Camp Darien is starting its second year, with a very full high season ahead of us.  Our New Year’s resolution is to offer you even more ways to make your dream birding vacation to Panama come true.  So if it is your New Year’s resolution to come to Panama, we want to help you!  We are offering a special discount for January: Register for any of our all-inclusive birding and nature packages in 2015 in the next 15 days and save 10%!

I want to inform you that Carlos Bethancourt will be attending the 18th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival at Eastern Florida State College in Titusville, Florida, January 21-26, 2015.  If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and say hello!

Another New Year's resolution of ours is we would love to share our newsletter and the natural wonders of Panama with the whole world—if you know anyone who would enjoy reading our newsletters, simply use your email's "forward" option and share us with your friends!

Raul Arias de Para

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

Raul Arias de Para

Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Canopy Family Brings Christmas to Huile

On December 19 we hosted our Children's Christmas Party at the public school in Huile, Panama.  It was an afternoon of games, food, gifts and fun entertainment, and even a visit from Santa!  This year, Daniel brought his drone to fly around and take aerial pictures of the party; it was no doubt one of the highlights for the kids, who loved seeing this interesting machine fly over their heads.  We would like to thank all of our guests who have stayed with us this year for making it possible for us to host this Christmas party for these wonderful kids.  It brings us so much joy to give back to local communities and put a smile on everyone's faces!

Huile Christmas Party 2014Huile Christmas Party 2014Huile Christmas Party 2014Huile Christmas Party 2014

Canopy Family Inaugural Butterfly Tour

Anteros kupris Jenn Sinasac

The world of butterflies is becoming very visible and popular among birders and nature enthusiasts.  Canopy Family's first butterfly tour was an exciting and memorable week at the Canopy Lodge and Canopy Tower in December.  The butterflies were abundant and we saw dozens of metalmarks, brushfoots, hairstreaks and skippers—168 species were found during the tour, including three species of jewelmarks seen on the first day! (photo: Giant Anteros)  The world of butterflies and skippers is fascinating, and we were happy to share it with our guests in Panama.  Click here for our trip report from this exciting new tour.  We are looking forward to our upcoming butterfly tours in May and August 2015!  There are still some spaces available, please contact us for more information.

Upcoming Deals


New Year Resolution Canopy Family
Register for any of our all-inclusive birding and nature packages or special tours in 2015 within the next 15 days and receive a 10% discount.  Contact us now for great savings in 2015!  
Only valid on new bookings between January 15th and 31st.  Offer expires January 31, 2015.

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Field Guides at Santa Clara

This Field Guides group, led by John Rowlett, celebrated New Year's at the Canopy Lodge.  They had a wonderful time birding in the foothills and on the Pacific Coast (where this photo was taken at Santa Clara beach), and enjoyed a New Year's Eve celebration at Raul's house in El Valle.  

Creature Feature

Canopy Lizard Polychrus gutturosus Nando Quiroz

Canopy Lizard
Polychrus gutturosus

The Canopy Lizard is a diurnal, arboreal lizard of the lowlands and foothills of Central America and northwestern South America.  It can be best identified by its medium size (body length 8-17 cm), extremely long, round tail up to 3x the length of its body, bright green coloration and distinct spot or stripe behind the eye.  It sometimes shows transverse striping on its body and tail.  It is variable in its color (Polychrus = many colors), and has the ability to change from bright green to dull brown depending on mood or conditions.  The Canopy Lizard lives at heights up to 40 m in the forest canopy.  It makes slow and deliberate movements to climb and maneuver in trees and will often stay in one (sometimes awkward or bizarre) position for extended periods of time.  It is capable of rapid movements if threatened.  If disturbed, it will open its mouth and extend its dewlap wide.  It is insectivorous, but will also eat leaves, fruits, seeds and flowers.  Like the Tiny Hawk, the Canopy Lizard is rarely seen, but possibly overlooked.  Occasionally we spot this interesting lizard basking in the treetops from the Canopy Tower, and the photo above was taken closer to ground level at Canopy Camp Darien. 

Common Names: Forest Iguana, Berthold’s Bush Anole, and Canopy Lizard are just some of the common names for this charming lizard—we think the choice is obvious which name we prefer!

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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