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Canopy Family

March 2015

Featured Bird

Black Oropendola Carlos Bethancourt

Black Oropendola
Psarocolius guatimozinus

The Black Oropendola is a large, striking and special member of the oriole family, Icteridae.  With a small global distribution of only eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia, it is special to us because the lowlands of Darién are the best place to see this spectacular bird!  Black Oropendolas are rather large birds, 46 cm in length, and there is a noticeable difference in size between males and females, males being larger.  They are mainly black with dark chestnut wing coverts, rump and vent.  They have a yellow tail with two central black tail feathers.  Their face is striking—with a bright blue cheek patch and pink malar, and a pointed black bill with red-orange tip.  They are found alone or in small groups in the forest canopy and edges, where they feed on fruits, nectar, insects, arthropods and small vertebrates.  Black Oropendolas construct large, hanging nests intricately woven from grasses, and nest in colonies in the crown of a large tree, usually with 20 or more nests.  Although their mating habits are not known in great detail, they are likely polygynous (like other oropendola species). In Panama, Black Oropendolas breed in February.  They are often found in close proximity with other species of oropendolas.  In addition to striking plumage and impressive nests, what may be the most spectacular behavior of the Black Oropendola is their display—when males display, they produce a bizarre, gurgle song and bow head first over a branch.  Watch this video to see their courtship display.  Black Oropendolas are uncommon throughout their range, and they are one of our target species at the Canopy Camp Darien.

Focus on Plants

Naranjita Jerry Harrison

Swartzia simplex

Naranjita is a medium-sized (5-15 meters in height) forest tree of the legume family (Fabaceae) with low branches and a twisting trunk.  Despite the name “simplex”, Naranjita is rather unusual as it has 2 different forms of leaf structure—simple and compound—and will sometimes have both!  Its leaves are similar no matter how they are arranged; they are shiny, smooth green with a long pointed tip, and a leaf petiole at the base.  Large, yellow flowers are present throughout most of the year and attract bees and insects for pollination.  Fruits are bright orange and contain a shiny black seed, which is dispersed by ground-dwelling animals such as agoutis.  The wood is strong and used in heavy construction and fence posts.  Naranjita is widespread throughout Central and South America, and is usually found inside mature lowland and pre-montane forest.

Photo of the Month

We love owls!  It has been a great month for owls and other nocturnal birds around our lodges, and here are two recent photo submissions featuring our night-time friends.  Above, Al Lusk from Nova Scotia shared a superb photo of  a Crested Owl, and below, Douglas Tipple from Ontario took this photo of a Mottled Owl.  Both owls were found near the Canopy Lodge.  Click on the photos to view larger images. 

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Great Curassow, Ocellated Antbird,  Violaceous Quail-Dove, Aplomado Falcon, Agami Heron, as well as the secretive Jaguarundi!  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!

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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Dear friends, 

We have been enjoying a good dose of "Canopy Family in the Media" recently!  I hope you got a chance to catch us on Birding Adventures TV, after filming two episodes featuring Darién's Harpy Eagles and Dusky-backed Jacamars with James Currie in January, which aired on Destination America earlier this month.  If you missed them, please check out their website to watch them there. 

Also, in a few days, Ray Brown from Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds, a radio show in Boston, will be visiting and doing a live broadcast from the Canopy Tower on Sunday, March 22, at 9:30 am ET.  Please visit their website for station listings and times.  If you are not in the Boston area, you can stream the show online at their website.  Enjoy the broadcast about our wonderful birdlife from right here in Panama!

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

Cornell Global Big Day to be held at the Canopy Tower!

We are excited to host Cornell Lab of Ornithology's team of expert birders for Cornell's first international Global Big Day!  For several years, Cornell has conducted “Big Days” in North America to raise money for their conservation programs.  This year, they are going international, and chose Panama as their destination and Canopy Tower as their home base.  We couldn’t be more honored!  Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff and their team will join us May 3-10, 2015.  They will spend the week scouting along Pipeline Road, at Cerro Azul and other great birding habitat in central Panama, giving eBird and conservation presentations to local groups and conducting their 24-hour Big Day on May 9. 

We support the wonderful work done by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for bird conservation and research.  For their Big Day, we will be donating 10% of the bookings at all of our lodges during this week to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology toward their conservation projects.  Furthermore, we will be submitting our birding day lists to eBird for May 9 in Panama to collaborate with the team on this exciting day, and encourage all of you to, as well.  Join us to support this wonderful cause, and get an opportunity to meet (and perhaps go birding with) the Cornell Global Big Day team in Panama!  Keep an eye out in next month's newsletter for even more information and links about this exciting event.  

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Conservation News

Bay of Panama Protection Reinstated!

In 2012, we were disheartened by the Panamanian Government's decision to withdraw the protected status of the Bay of Panama due to increased economic pressure for urban development.  On February 2, 2015 (World Wetlands Day), President Juan Carlos Varela signed legislation to reinstate full protection to the Bay of Panama.  This is wonderful news, as this sensitive environment comprising coastal mangroves and mudflats is one of the five principal stopovers and wintering grounds for migratory shorebirds, as well as having a vital role in filtering pollutants, protecting Panama City from floods and other potential impacts of climate change.  Our dear friend Rosabel Miró, president of the Panama Audubon Society (Birdlife International partner in Panama), and her dedicated team fought for 3 years to reinstate the protection of this Important Bird Area (IBA).  Congratulations to them for their hard work for bird conservation!  We are proud of Panama's dedication to conservation and look forward to continuing to share this ecosystem and its birds with our guests.  Read the full article here.  

Upcoming Deals

Save on 7-night Birding & Nature Packages in April!

Experience birding in Panama at its best with one of our signature Birding & Nature Packages at great prices.  Save 10% on our 7-night packages at the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and Canopy Camp.  Packages may be combined between multiple lodges.  Select dates available for this April, please contact our reservations for more details.  There is no better time to enjoy the natural splendor of Panama!

Canopy Family Lodges

Featured Tour: Rainforest Ecology and Conservation

Red-eyed Treefrog

Connected in an intricate web, all parts of a tropical ecosystem depend on each other for life.  Our upcoming Rainforest Ecology and Conservation tour will focus on biodiversity, ecology and conservation of tropical ecosystems.  Join Terry Dunn, environmental specialist and author, as she brings years of experience working in tropical environments to this tour, and will supplement our days in the field with evening presentations regarding tropical ecology and conservation issues.  Please contact us for more details and to book your space on this exciting tour!

On top of our signature Birding and Nature Packages, we offer special fixed-date tours throughout the year that focus on some of Panama's greatest natural experiences.  Please browse all of our tours to find one perfect for you!

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Mark Pretti Nature Tours Canopy Lodge Canopy Camp Darien guestsMark Garland CCD March 2015

Top photo: Mark Pretti Nature Tours group at the Canopy Lodge in February.
Middle photo: Raúl with our recent guests at the Canopy Camp.  From left to right: Celia Hart, Mark Wilson, Dana Kuykendall, Raúl Arias de Para, Terry Morgan and Karen Walz.
Bottom photo: Mark Garland and friends at the Canopy Camp in March.   

Creature Feature

Doris Longwing Jenn Sinasac

Doris Longwing
Heliconius (Laparus) doris

Doris Longwing is one of the many very attractive butterflies of Panama.  This polymorphic (many morphs) species is black overall with creamy yellow patches on its forewings and rays of red, blue or green on its hind wings.  Larvae (caterpillars) are tiny with yellow bodies and black bands.  Longwing butterflies of the genus Heliconius have a close relationship with passion vine plants (Passiflora sp.), which they use as their primary host plant to lay eggs and feed larvae, and they are colloquially known as the “passionflower butterflies”.  Adults feed on nectar and pollen of Lantana, Psiguria and Psychotria.  Doris Longwings live inside the forest and along forest edges where flowering plants are found.  This beautiful butterfly ranges from southern Mexico through northwestern South America, and is commonly found around all of our lodges. 

Did You Know?  Doris Longwing was traditionally classified as Heliconius doris, but due to a difference in the number of chromosomes, it is now classified by some in the monotypic genus, Laparus.

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