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Canopy Family

June 2014

Featured Bird

Song Wren

Song Wren
Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus

The Song Wren is a stocky, medium-sized wren with a uniform brown color, chestnut-colored throat and fine black barring on wings and tail.  They have a blue skin patch visible around their eye, similar to some species of antbirds.  They are rather social—living and foraging in small family groups of 2-5 individuals.  They forage on the forest floor for insects and terrestrial invertebrates and occasionally feed at army ant swarms  and participate in mixed feeding flocks.  Wrens are fantastic vocalists; this spunky wren of the forest understory can’t help but be heard—its complex low-pitched, melodious call and guttural clucking travels well through dense forest habitats, and gives this wren its well-earned name.  Song Wrens build two different nest types: non-breeding dormitory nests which are large, bulky and gourd-shaped, and L-shaped breeding nests for raising offspring.  They are found in subtropical and tropical forests from Honduras to Ecuador.  Keep an eye out for groups of Song Wrens foraging and singing in the forests of the Canopy Tower and Canopy Camp.  

Did you know?  Song Wrens maintain stable, year-round territories, and juveniles will stay on their natal territories with their parents for up to a year after fledging, a behavior called delayed dispersal.

Focus on Plants

Firebush Hamelia patens

Hamelia patens

This large shrub or small tree of the coffee family (Rubiaceae) stands out of the crowd—its bright red-orange tubular flowers give it many appropriate common names including Scarletbush, Hummingbird Bush, Redhead, and in Panama, Uvero, Canelito and Zorrillo Real.  The flowers vary in length, and attract a wide variety of pollinators including hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.  The flowers give way to small dark red fruits which turn black as they mature, and tanagers and other birds feed on the juicy fruits.  The leaves are arranged in whorls, 15 cm (6 in.) in length, oval, pointed and green-gray in color with pinkish veins; stems and leaf stalks are red.  Firebush has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can be used to relieve and treat a variety of ailments including skin rashes, sores, insect stings, as well as fever and headache.  This sun-loving plant occurs in tropical clearings or in partial shade, among tropical moist forest and premontane forest where there are well-drained soils.  It is a common plant around our lodges; watch for hummingbird and butterfly activity at the Firebush in our gardens.

Photo of the Month

Mantled Howler Monkey Jeff Schultz

Flashback!  Jeff Schultz took this photo of a male Mantled Howler at the Canopy Tower last September, as they made faces back and forth through the dining room window.  Jeff is back at the Canopy Tower this month in search of more lifers and howlers!  Click on the photo for a larger image.  

A special thanks to our friends at the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in Guelph, Ontario, Canada for their thoughtful donation of six high-quality, no-drip hummingbird feeders for our lodges.  These attractive new feeders will keep our hummingbirds happy and our guests entertained by these spectacular birds!

Canopy Tower Hummingbird feeder 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!

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Greetings from the Canopy...

Dear Friends, 

We are happy to announce that the Canopy Tower (for the third year in a row!) and Canopy Lodge have been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.  We thank you all for your reviews, we could not achieve this without your support.  You continuously provide us great feedback and motivation to keep doing our best, and for this we cannot thank you enough!

Raul Arias de Para

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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Celebrating 15 Years: A Brief History of the Canopy Tower

Old Canopy Tower

In 1965, the US Air Force constructed a tower to house a powerful radar along the banks of the Panama Canal and to be used in its defense.  In 1969, this radar station was jointly used by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Panama Canal Commission as a communications tower.  In 1988, it received an important new assignment: It was activated as Site One in the Caribbean Basin Radar Network, and was used by the US Government to detect airplanes suspected of carrying drugs from South America until 1995, when it was closed and left vacant.  Truly a structure of many uses!  In November 1996, the radar tower and Semaphore Hill site, approximately 35 acres of rainforest within Soberania National Park, were transferred to Panama under the Torrijos-Carter Treaty.

Raul Arias de Para

Meanwhile, economics major, politician and writer Raúl Arias de Para, was getting in touch with nature and entered into the field of ecotourism.  He was motivated to protect and conserve a waterfall close to his heart in El Valle de Anton, on his family’s land.  Raúl installed an entrance gate, instituted a fee and hired locals previously engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture and trained them as guides.  The Canopy Adventure is now a safe haven for many birds and animals, and is a retreat for visitors to enjoy and appreciate nature.  The following year, Raúl began to look for a place to build an eco-lodge in the forests surrounding the Panama Canal and in August 1996, came across the Semaphore Hill Radar Station.

“I fell in love with a building,” Raúl states in a speech he gave during the International Conference on Heritage Tourism for the Next Millenium in December 1998.  “It defies logic.  In any event, it was love at first sight, not only with the tower but also with its location, right in the center of Soberania National Park.”  In August 1997, Raúl signed a long-term contract with the government of Panama to transform the old radar station into an ecolodge and tropical nature observatory.  The transformation took two years, and Raúl calls it “the ultimate recycling project”.  In January 1999, the Canopy Tower was inaugurated and the rest, as we say, is history.

Canopy Tower

Celebrating 15 Years with Special Anniversary Offers!

Canopy Tower 15th Anniversary

While the building is actually much older, we honor the Canopy Tower for 15 years of excellence in its "best use" as a world-class birding eco-lodge.  Save 20% on our Birds of the Canopy Tower, Birds of the Canopy Lodge and Birds of Canopy Camp Darien on select dates this year.  Save up to $449 per person through this great offer!  Click here for more information.

NEW!  Mountain Bikes for Rent at the Canopy B&B

Canopy B&B Bikes

We have two new high-quality mountain bikes available for rent at the Canopy Bed & Breakfast.  They are a perfect way to access and explore Pipeline Road, or great for a leisurely ride around the historic canal town of Gamboa.  

Over the past 15 years, we have watched our staff grow in their abilities and roles within the Canopy Family.  On June 7, we had a celebratory lunch for Danilo Rodriguez Jr. (below, right), who has worked as the lead staff at the Canopy B&B for the past 3 years, as he is now leaving his role at the B&B to follow in the footsteps of his father as a bird guide at the Canopy Lodge and Canopy Tower.  Congratulations, Danilo!    

Canopy Tower StaffDanilo

Creature Feature

Spectacled Caiman

Spectacled Caiman
Caiman crocodilus

The most common and widespread of all crocodilians, the Spectacled Caiman is truly an accomplished reptile of lowland wetlands and riverine habitats from Mexico through the Amazon Basin.  This small- to medium-sized caiman can reach lengths up to 2.5 m (8 ft) and weigh 7-40 kg (15-88 lbs).  They are grey-green in coloration, but also have the ability to change their color, as they can expand the dark pigments (melanin) in their skin cells to appear darker.  These generalist and adaptive predators eat invertebrates, including insects, crustaceans and mollusks, as well as fish.  Larger individuals will also feed on riverside and aquatic mammals.  Look for Spectacled Caimans along the riverside and in the lake during a jungle boat tour, and in the forest streams surrounding the Canopy Tower and Canopy Camp Darien.

Did you know?  Also known as White or Common Caiman, Spectacled Caimans get this name from the bony ridge between their eyes, giving them a look as if they are wearing glasses!

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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