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Canopy Family

March 2014

Featured Bird

Great Jacamar

Great Jacamar
Jacamerops aureus

The Great Jacamar is one of the most beautiful forest canopy birds of the tropical lowlands.  At 30 cm (12 in.) in length, this is by far the largest of all the jacamars (family Galbulidae).  Males and females are similar; they both have metallic green and gold backs and wings, a rufous chest and underparts and a green head with blue and purple iridescence.  Males have a bold white lower throat patch.  They have much heavier bills than most other jacamars, with which they catch insects in the air and whack them on a branch before eating.  They are often first found by their distinct, high-pitched whistle call, fading at the end.  They are found from Costa Rica south through the northwestern Amazon basin.  They are most often encountered along Pipeline Road in central Panama, and in the lowland forests surrounding the Canopy Camp. 

Strange homes:  Like trogons and some parakeets, Great Jacamars nest in cavities inside termite nests!

Focus on Plants

Guayacan Tree

Guayacan Trumpet Tree
Tabebuia guayacan

This month, the forestscape will change as the Guayacan trees start to bloom, producing a full crown of golden, tubular-shaped flowers.  It is believed by locals that these trees presage the coming green season—they are said to bloom one month before the rains start.  This large tree, up to 50 meters tall, is native to Central and South America.  It sheds its leaves during the dry season, then flowers.  After flowering, it bears fruit at the end of March—fruits are 25-60 cm long, green, and resemble bean ponds.  Inside the fruits are small, winged seeds.  The wood is very hard, heavy and dark; it is valued and used for making railway ties, flooring and boats.  Furthermore, this tree also has medicinal properties.  A tea made from the leaves can provide relief for urinary tract and kidney problems, and is a treatment for tuberculosis.  It is found from Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela and Peru.  It is most common in Costa Rica and Panama, and during this month while blooming, dazzles guests at the Canopy Tower just as much as the birds do!

Photo of the Month

Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo Roger Wasley

"I'm hungry!"  This young Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo begs for food from mom at an army ant swarm along Pipeline Road in February.  This action shot was taken by Canopy Tower guest Roger Wasley.  Click on the photo for a larger image. 

For Our German Friends

The Canopy Tower is featured in an article entitled “Welcome to the Jungle” in Reise und Preise, a German travel magazine.  Click here to check out the article (in German!).

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of Ocellated Antbird, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, and rarities including Yellow-breasted Crake and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher!  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!

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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, 

While golden crowns of the Guayacan trees blaze through the forests along the Panama Canal, we are thoroughly enjoying the beautiful dry season here in Panama, and the birds seem to love it too!  Many birds are well into their breeding seasons, and we are seeing busy parents feeding hungry mouths and some fledglings taking their first wobbly flights. 

As the Canopy Camp continues to receive its first guests and groups, we have taken advantage of photographing the new eco-lodge in all its glory!  Check out our website for new images of the tents, facilities and of course the wildlife we are finding at the Canopy Camp.  For even more recent photos, visit our photo gallery on Flickr!  


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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Special Tours for 2014!

In addition to our tried-and-true birding and nature packages that delight so many guests each year, we do offer various special, fixed-date tours.  These birding and natural history tours may feature guest scientists and speakers, special evening presentations, experts in the field or are featured from some of our tour operators.  Depending on your interests, some of these exciting tours may be for you! 


New Birding Package: The Complete Canopy Family Experience

The ultimate birding tour package in Panama!  The Complete Canopy Family Experience 20-night, all-inclusive tour brings you to the foothills of western Panama, where Tody Motmots and Blue-throated Toucanets roam the misty cloud forests, to the ever-popular lowlands of central Panama, where you will stay at the Canopy Tower and enjoy treetop birding at its best, then journey into the far reaches of Darién, in eastern Panama, in search of regional specialties such as Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black Oropendola and the magnificent Harpy Eagle!  Contact us for more information and to book this birding adventure of a lifetime!

Recent Guests at our Lodges

Bossert Motorhome

The Canopy Family welcomed guests Kurt & Michele Bossert, and their rather large and unique motorhome, to the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge in February.  These intrepid travelers from Switzerland crossed the Atlantic on a large cargo ship in June 2011, landed in Buenos Aires and since then have traveled almost all of South America, including Patagonia, Brazil and the Andean countries, and visited Antarctica (twice) and South Georgia.  Their goal is to travel from Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) to Alaska!  Birders themselves, they spent several days with us at our lodges, delighting our guests and staff with stories from their travels.

Joan Craig Canopy Lodge

In February, Joan Craig visited us again (after her visit in 2013) to experience the new Canopy Camp, and make new memories at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.  She is our first guest to make this milestone.  Raul interviewed Joan during her stay with us, and here is her video testimonial.  Thanks Joan!

Creature Feature

Starry Cracker

Starry Cracker
Hamadryas laodamia

The Starry Cracker is an eye-catching creature; it has velvety blue-black wings with bright blue iridescent spots.  Unlike other crackers, males and females are sexually dimorphic, females having a broad white band across the forewing.  This medium-sized brush-foot (family Nymphalidae) is not only one of the most beautiful butterflies, but one of the most interesting ones, as well.  The common name “cracker” comes from the peculiar sound that the males make during their territorial displays and to deter predators.  Members of this group have a swollen vein on their forewing that they can clap together in flight to produce a clicking sound, similar to the crackling of bacon in a frying pan.  What is even more unique about this species in particular is that the Starry Cracker is the non-cracking cracker!  It is believed to have lost this ability, and instead has adapted scent organs and sexual dimorphism to interact with other individuals.  Like other Hamadryas, they perch on tree trunks, upside down and with their wings flat against the bark.  They eat rotting fruit, sap and animal dung.  The Starry Cracker is found from Mexico through the Amazon Basin, in lowland humid forests up to 900m.  They can be found throughout Panama, and are one of the more memorable butterflies encountered at our lodges.  

Fun fact!  This butterfly is also called the Starry Night Cracker, inspired by Van Gogh’s famous painting.


Sneak peek at next month's Canopy Family newsletter...

Here's a clue to next month's featured bird... who am I??  

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