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Canopy Family

July, 2012

Featured Bird

A "thick-billed" at the Canopy Lodge
Thick-billed Euphonia

The Thick-billed Euphonia, Euphonia laniirostris, is a gorgeous, stocky bird, just 4 inches in length. Euphonias are now in the fringillidae, recently separated from their close cousins, the tanagers (thraupidae). Euphonias are mainly fruit eaters and are especially fond of mistletoe berries, which are abundant in the tropics. In Panama most species of euphonias have brightly-colored males—often a dark-blue and bright-yellow combination—while females are a drab olive-green and lighter yellow color.

In addition to Panama, the thick-billed is found in Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and much of Venezuela. Thick-billed Euphonias are a common visitor to the feeders at the Canopy Lodge, where this male was photographed. They are common over much of Panama and can be found on birding tours from the Tower or Lodge.

Focus on Plants

Porcupine Costus

The “Porcupine Costus,” Costus villosissimus, is native from Costa Rica to Peru, as well as Jamaica and the Lesser Antilles. It is a tall handsome herb with long, hairy leaf blades, which spiral up a cane-like stem.  At the top sits a rather large, bright-yellow flower. Formerly included in the zingiberaceae (ginger family), all species (Costus spp. and relatives) with spiraling leaves have now been assigned to their own family, the costaceae. It is very common along Gaillard Highway and other roads adjacent to the Canal, but can be found at hilly locations throughout Panama. Flowering begins in April, peaks in June and July, and continues to October. 

Costus Quick facts:

~ pollinated by large bees

~ local name is caña agria, means "bitter cane"

~ this species can reach 6 meters tall

~ fruit matures in late rainy season

~ Costus is a common genus in Panama, with about 10 species found near the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge

~ Dimerocostus, often found near other Costus species, is also in the costaceae

~ Costus species are called "spiral gingers"

KRISTIN LUNA, popular travel & lifestyles writer, recently visited the Canopy Tower. You must read Above the Treetops in Panama, which eloquently describes—and portrays with outstanding and unique photos—the sights, sounds and creatures she encountered at the Tower. Thanks, Kristin, and the Canopy Tower Family is glad you had a wonderful time.

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Greetings from the Canopy...


Dear Friends,

The Canopy Tower Family is proud to announce that both the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge have been awarded the prestigious Certificate of Excellence by tripadvisor! The Certificate of Excellence is awarded to qualifying accommodations, attractions and restaurants listed on tripadvisor that maintain a high overall user rating and a high volume of recent and quality reviews. The Canopy Tower Family is humbled by this award and want to thank our guests for taking time to write the excellent reviews. We are striving to have our new Canopy B&B earn this award next year.

Also, I am very happy to announce that Abir Noemi Quiroz Beitia, daughter of Nando, our main man with the Darién project, has been chosen to participate in the Camp Cascades program. During this exciting eleven-day adventure (July 29-August 8), Abir will explore the unique ecosystems associated with Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State! Camp Cascades is co-sponsored by the American Birding Association and Leica Sports Optics. This all-expenses-paid scholarship was graciously donated by Victor Emanuel of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) and with further sponsorship by the Canopy Tower Family.  Abir and her fellow campers will be immersed in the study of the region's biodiverse flora and fauna, and particularly the birdlife—all set with a backdrop of breath-taking scenery. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I am sure Abir will enjoy, as she has already shown a keen interest in birds and all aspects of natural history—and at age 13! Have fun, Abir, from all of us at the Canopy Tower Family!


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


    Raúl Arias de Para

    Canopy Tower Family

Canopy Tower Family News

Chandler, Carlos & daughter Cristy

Mr. Chandler (Chan) Robbins and his family spent a week at the Canopy Tower in June. Mr. Robbins is renowned in the birding world, from his many contributions in field ornithology, to co-authoring Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guide) and also for his involvement in the North American Breeding Bird Survey. After 60 years of public service, Mr. Robbins retired from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in 2005. It was both a great pleasure and honor to share our Panama birds with Mr. Robbins. He will celebrate his 94th birthday this month!

Creature Feature

Northern Tamandua (Vested Anteater) Photo courtesy Tino Sanchez

Northern Tamandua         

The Northern Tamandua (Vested Anteater), Tamandua mexicana, is known as hormiguero bandera ("ant-nest flag") in Panama. It ranges from Mexico to Venezuela and northwest Peru. This anteater has powerful forelimbs and forefeet, each with two large claws and two small claws, perfect for tearing into rotten wood or termite mounds where it consumes ants, termites and bees with a long sticky tongue. The hind feet have 5 claws. Tracks show a characteristic "backward pointing" front claw mark, as if it had been walking on its knuckles. They can be found day or night and when disturbed, can quickly retreat up a vine or nearby tree.  Females give birth to one young, which may be seen riding on the mother’s back. They are fairly common and can be found at elevations to 1600 meters. Look for these insectivorous mammals along Semaphore Hill and during outings from the Canopy Lodge.

© Canopy Family