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photo courtesy Kevin Zimmer VENT
The striking Green Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius pulchellus) is at the top of our birding friends’ “most wanted list,” right behind the Blue Cotinga—and with good reason! With the unusual combination of brilliant emerald-green upperparts, a lemon-yellow throat, pea-green below, and with a blue patch on the nape, this leaf-colored bird is indeed at home in the forest canopy! At just 5.5 inches, this hard-to-see bird seems larger in life. His incessant morning three-note whistled call is actually quite similar in tone to the call of the Tufted Titmouse of the eastern U.S. It has jokingly been described as “can’t-see-me!” The bird’s deliberate foraging behavior amongst the leaves in the canopy adds to the frustration of trying to see one. The best place to scan for a Green Shrike-Vireo is from the Observation Deck at the Canopy Tower, but they can be found during trips from the Canopy Lodge as well. Come see why this bird is the favorite of many birders and of our 3-time guest, Valerie Cunningham, from St. Paul, Minnesota, who suggested we feature the Green Shrike-Vireo. Great idea, Val, and thanks for the suggestion!
Focus on Plants
Most poeple are familiar with passion flowers, and virtually all the species have similar structures and the same general form, aiding in their recognition. They come in a rainbow of colors, from white to green, yellowish to blue, and red to purple. One of the most striking forms, Passiflora vitifolia, is pictured above and is common in the American tropics.
Early Spanish settlers to the New World believed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (the Passion) is told in the anatomy of these magnificent climbing vines. The petals and sepals represent the “faithful apostles,” the 3 styles (stalks of the female part of the flower) are the “nails of the cross,’’ the 5 anthers (the male, pollen-bearing parts) are “Christ’s wounds,” the circular corona of the flower, the “crown of thorns” and the twining tendrils of the vine, the whips and scourges!
But in the insect world, passion flowers represent the sole food source for the caterpillars of certain butterflies, namely Heliconius species. For humans, passion flowers have been cultivated to produce delicious fruit.
Passiflora quick facts
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Greetings from the Canopy...
History was made when Cheepers! Birding on a Budget owners Cindy and Jim Beckman brought two groups simultaneously to the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge from April 22 – May 3. Tour 1, led by Jim, had 12 enthusiastic birders and visited the Tower first, before transferring to the Canopy Lodge. Tour 2, also with 12, was led by Cindy and began at the Canopy Lodge, then came to the Tower. On the last day, both groups rendezvoused at the Miraflores Locks Museum, where Zelesny, Denise and I joined them for a farewell dinner. Thanks, Cheepers!
Carlos Bethancourt had a wonderful experience at the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB) festival in Ohio. Carlos' lifers were a Black-throated Blue, Nashville and Cape May Warblers, the endangered Kirtland's Warbler and an American Woodcock performing its courtship display flight. See BWIAB article below.
Best wishes, and I hope to see
Canopy Tower Family News
Recently, the staff of the Canopy Lodge and Canopy Adventure had a team building day. It was a great way for most of the staff (a few had to hold down the fort at the Canopy Adventure) to get together and have some fun and "work" together! The idea was to reinforce team work, camaraderie and strengthen the bond between employees.
The day was planned and organized by Zelesny Jiménez. Many of you know Zele as the Manager of the Canopy Tower. Zele has recently been promoted and now oversees not only the Canopy Tower, but also the Canopy Lodge and Canopy B & B. Fun was had by all!
NATURETREK Tamarin Tour group at Canopy Lodge
Biggest Week in American Birding
Carlos attended the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB) on Lake Erie from May 5 through May 13, where he presented “Natural Splendor of Panama” at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. He also led birders at the Magee Marsh. "I have never seen so many birders in one place before!" Carlos told us. He is looking forward to next year's event. After the festival Carlos visited the Bruckner Nature Center in Troy, OH, where he presented his popular program. The next day, Carlos repeated his presentation for the Columbus Audubon meeting.
Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman with Carlos at the CTF booth in Ohio
The Soldier Grasshopper
One of the most commonly seen large, gaudy grasshoppers in central Panama is the soldier grasshopper, Chromacris speciosa. The striking green-and-yellow stripes make this little fellow very attractive indeed! Native to the neotropics, it is also known as a Lubber, or in Brazil, as “gafanhoto brasileirinho,” the little Brazilian locust. They are friendly and, thus, are easy subjects to photograph.