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Canopy Family

May 2014

Canopy Tower Certificate of Excellence 2014

Canopy Tower

Certificate of Excellence
2014 Winner

Featured Bird

Black Hawk-Eagle

Black Hawk-Eagle
Spizaetus tyrannus

The Black Hawk-Eagle is a large, dark forest eagle of the Neotropics, from Mexico south through the Amazon Basin.  They have a body length of 64 cm (25 in.) and a wingspan of 131 cm (52 in.).  They have the characteristic body shape of a forest raptor—a slim body, broad paddle-shaped wings and long tail—designed to maneuver efficiently through the dense understory and canopy of tropical forests.  Adults are primarily black with black and white barring on their feathered legs and a banded tail.  They have bright orange-yellow eyes and bright yellow feet.  Young birds have buffy brown plumage with streaked and mottled underparts.  Both adults and juveniles have a prominent crown crest.  In flight, they have black and white banding on their flight feathers.  They often soar above the canopy, and can be easily spotted by their loud, distinct whistle call.  Despite the fact that they are lighter and smaller than other eagles, Black Hawk-Eagles are powerful predators—they frequently hunt large prey including large rodents, monkeys, opossums, iguanas, bats and other birds including toucans and chachalacas.  Even though they have low population densities by nature, the Black Hawk-Eagle is fairly common in the lowland and foothill forests surrounding the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and Canopy Camp. 

Did you know?  As in all raptors, female Black Hawk-Eagles are larger than males!

Focus on Plants

Vochysia ferruginea

Flor de Mayo
Vochysia ferruginea

As the month of May brings the rains to Panama, the Flor de Mayo or “Flower of May” embraces the onset of the rainy season and its golden flowers adorn the wide crown of this canopy tree.  It has a tall trunk and can grow up to 20-34 meters (65-110 feet) in height.  It has ascending branches and the upper parts form a dense, wide crown.  It flowers from March to June—golden inflorescences are narrow panicles, which grow on the tips of the branches, and extend upward.  The golden flowers attract many pollinators, including wasps, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  Fruits are variable in appearance, typically oblong capsules 2-4 cm long, containing only two seeds.  Seeds are 2-3 cm long, brown and have one wing.  Fruits and seeds are present from August to October.  They can be found in humid lowland forests from Nicaragua to Brazil.  The wood is relatively light, has an attractive light brown color with beige to rose veining.  The wood dries easily and is moderately resistant to insects and fungi, and is therefore used to make boxes, boards, furniture veneer, toys and cabinets.  The Flor de Mayo trees surrounding the Canopy Tower are in full bloom this month, adding color to the canopy of Soberanía National Park.

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the last month we have had great sightings of nesting Sunbittern, Golden-green Woodpecker, Pheasant Cuckoo and more!   Check out more recent sightings and trip reports for the amazing birds, mammals, reptiles & amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies seen around the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and the new Canopy Camp Darien!

We're now on Instagram!  Follow us at canopyfamily where we will be posting some day-to-day photos from around the lodges!

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 Darien 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, 

As you know, we like to share some of our bird sightings on our website.  To keep you all more accurately informed on our regular bird sightings, we are now on eBird.  Our guides will be recording their sightings regularly and contributing to this wonderful resource.  We are excited to share our complete sightings with the eBird community, and it is another great way to keep up with what we are seeing at our lodges.  Please continue to view our recent sightings blog for exciting sightings from our lodges.

The Canopy Camp has been open for five months now!  While everything has been running smoothly, we continue to add improvements to the new eco-lodge in Darien to make it even better for our guests and the environment, including solar panels and a second water tank.  We look forward to adding even more environmentally-conscious products in the future to all of our lodges.

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

Solar Panels Now Installed at Canopy Camp Darien

Canopy Camp Solar Panels

We have recently installed an array of solar panels that provide the Canopy Camp close to 100% of the energy for the entire lodge.  As of now there are 21 panels of 250 watts each, producing about 4.4 kWh.  We plan to add another 9 panels to produce about 6.2 kWh. With these new solar panels, the costly diesel generator we used is only turned on now in emergency situations.  Raul says, “It is wonderful to produce clean electricity for our guests, and give a tiny, but not insignificant, contribution to the health of the ozone layer”.

We have also installed a second water tank to collect abundant fresh water from the Serranía Filo del Tallo foothills nearby.  Here is a short video of the placement of this tank.  We are fortunate to have this great natural water source for all water needs at the Camp.

Canopy Family Attends the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival

Canopy Family’s Jenn Sinasac and Eliecer Rodriguez attended the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival at the “warbler capital of the world” in Oak Harbor, Ohio last week.  Surrounded by colorful warblers and migrants during the peak of spring migration (where Eliecer picked up 60 lifers!), they guided birding walks, presented the “Natural Splendor of Panama” and spoke to many past and (hopefully) future guests of our lodges, with a particular interest in the new Canopy Camp!  Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman do a fantastic job promoting bird conservation through the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and partner organizations, and a very supportive and friendly birding community made this festival very rewarding.

Photo of the Month

Double-toothed Kite Misty VaughnWhite-faced Capuchin Misty Vaughn

During her recent stay at the Canopy Tower and Canopy B&B, Misty Vaughn found it fascinating that Double-toothed Kites (left) follow troops of White-faced Capuchins (right) in search of lizards and other animals they rustle up while foraging in the forest.  Click on the photos for larger images.  

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Birding Ventures Canopy LodgeTLC Birding Canopy Camp

Another milestone!  Simon Thompson and Ventures Birding Tours was the first birding tour group to stay at all three lodges during their trip in Panama this year.  Here they are at the Canopy Lodge in El Valle (left).  Since then, Cheepers! Birding on a Budget and TLC Birding, now coined "Tower, Lodge, Camp Birding"! (right) have stayed at all three lodges as well.  

Lorna Raul Dodge

Famous birders Dodge and Lorna Engleman. Dodge and Lorna visited the Canopy Camp in April.  They are old friends of Raul and, in fact, they are responsible for Raul entering the world of birding. Lorna was the instructor in a bird watching course offered by Panama Audubon in 1990. Raul took the course and got hooked in birding. Dodge, on the other hand, a world famous birder with over 6,500 species in his life list, served as mentor to Raul for several years.

Creature Feature


Potos flavos

The Kinkajou is a medium-sized arboreal mammal of the lowland forests of Central and South America.  They are 40-60 cm (16-24 in.) in length, and in addition to the body length, they have a long, prehensile tail the same length as the body.  Their entire body and tail are covered with dense, golden hair.  They have a round face with a short muzzle, large, wide-set eyes and small, rounded ears.  They have short legs for climbing trees.  They are very similar in appearance to their closely-related cousin, the Bushy-tailed Olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii); however olingos lack a prehensile tail—Kinkajous are the only New World carnivore with this feature.  Although it may look a little bear-like, the Kinkajou is actually a member of the raccoon family, Procyonidae.  They are also known as the “honey bear”, because they often raid beehives.  Even though they are technically carnivores, they are mostly frugivorous, preferring to feed on fruits including figs, palm fruits, mangos and passion fruits.  To help them feed, they have a long tongue (20 cm in length) and dexterous front paws.  They are common in Panama, but due to their nocturnal and arboreal behavior, they are seldom seen.  However, they make noisy movements through the trees, occasionally in pairs or small groups, and are very vocal—they have a wide range of whistles, barks, grunts and screams and have earned the nickname “la llorona” in Spanish, meaning “crying woman”.  Kinkajous are often encountered on our night drives at the Canopy Tower. 

Confused yet?  They may look a little bear-like, or perhaps even monkey-like due to their arboreal behavior, and were even classified as lemurs for a while!

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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