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Canopy Family

May 2015

Featured Bird

Streak-chested Antpitta Carlos Bethancourt

Streak-chested Antpitta
Hylopezus perspicillatus

Formerly known as the Spectacled Antpitta, this plump, forest-dwelling bird is one of Panama’s most desired species to see!  The Streak-chested Antpitta is the most common and widespread antpitta in Panama.  It is a medium-sized antpitta (14 cm in length), and has a distinct buffy eye-ring and heavy black streaking on the breast.  It has brown back and wings, gray head and nape with a buffy face, and small pale spots on the wing coverts.  It is plump with a short tail and long legs, as prefers to spend most of its time on the forest floor.  Affectionately known as “eggs with legs”, antpittas are secretive, inconspicuous and far more often heard than seen; however, if patient, one may be rewarded with often-spectacular views of these unique birds.  The Streak-chested Antpitta is solitary and terrestrial, and often sings its mournful song, a series of 10 notes starting fast and then slowing and descending.  It sings predominantly in the rainy season, from the ground or from an elevated perch in the understory.  Ranging from Nicaragua through western Ecuador, in Panama it is found along the Caribbean slope to both slopes in eastern Panama, and can be found around all of the Canopy Family lodges.

Focus on Plants

Pokeweed by Jerry Harrison

Phytolacca rivinoides

Pokeweed is a distinct tropical plant very similar to the American Pokeweed (P. americana), flowering shrubs of the family Phytolaccaceae.  It has alternate simple leaves, pointed at the ends.  Its most distinct features are its pink stems with a long terminal raceme that produces tiny white & pink flowers with green centers.  After flowering, round berries form on the racemes, green at first then turning dark purple/black when mature.  You must take caution with this plant, as young leaves are edible but older parts are quite poisonous.  They contain the chemicals phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin, which are toxic to mammals if not cooked properly.  However, birds can safely eat the berries—the toxin does not affect them because the seeds contained in a hard shell remain intact.  Pokeweed is found in the foothills and highlands from Guatemala to Bolivia and in the Caribbean, and is common around the Canopy Lodge.

Photo of the Month

Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo Beth Hamel

One of the many exciting species seen on the Global Big Day on May 9, this stunning Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo was photographed by Elizabeth Hamel while birding with Canopy Lodge guide Danilo Rodriguez at La Mesa.  A star bird for Panama, and great to have seen on this day!  Click on the photos to view larger images. 

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of Black Guan, Dusky-backed Jacamar, Roseate Spoonbill, Pheasant Cuckoo and rarities including Jabiru, Thicket Antpitta and Blue-fronted Parrotlet!  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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Greetings from the Canopy

Dear friends, 

It has been an exciting and rewarding month for us here in Panama.  First of all, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Global Big Day was a very memorable event indeed.  We feel honored that they chose us to be their host.  The Big Day itself was a huge success, and great partnerships were developed and ecotourism and bird conservation were promoted in Panama and worldwide.  It was so heartwarming to see the world come together for birds!  We are also proud that Panama, a small nation with only 3.6 million inhabitants and 80,000 km2 of total area, ranked No. 5 in the world in the number of species seen during Global Big Day!  

Even more great things are happening in Panama for conservation with the launch of the new Green Tourism Initiative.  We hope to see ecotourism and environmental protection on the rise as we improve the accessibility of Panama's national parks for the enjoyment of birding and nature for many generations to come.  Great things are happening in Panama, we invite you to join us here and see it for yourself!

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’s Global Big Day a HUGE success in Panama and worldwide for Birding Conservation!

We were thrilled when the team from Cornell Lab of Ornithology approached us about doing an international "Big Day" in Panama, and honored that they asked us to be their host.  After months of preparations, the big day was held on May 9.  Team Sapsucker completed a full 24 hours of birding in central Panama, tallying a total of 320 species!  Prior to the big day, the Cornell Lab team collaborated with the Panama Audubon Society and Canopy Family to spread the word of bird conservation and eBird in Panama, conducted a full-day “Big Sit” at the Canopy Tower on Sunday May 3, and scouted all the birding sites.  The main goals of the Global Big Day were to see 4,000 species of birds worldwide submitted to eBird, and most importantly, raise $500,000 for bird conservation projects.  Overall, the Global Big Day tallied over 6,000 species around the world in one day with over 13,000 birders in 127 countries participating – amazing!  Congratulations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for their incredible efforts, we had a lot of fun with you here in Panama, a very memorable experience for us!  We would also like to extend a special thanks to Panama Audubon for their incredible support during this event.  Click here for more photos from the first ever Global Big Day!

Team Sapsucker Big Sit Canopy TowerGlobal Big Day BioMuseo Presentationimage

Upper left: Team Sapsucker counting birds during the "Big Sit" at the Canopy Tower on May 3, tallying a total of 127 species just from the Observation Deck of the Tower!  Upper right: Chris Wood and Marshall Iliff talk about eBird at the BioMuseo in Panama City on May 2.  Bottom: Team Sapsucker with our Carlos Bethancourt, ready for the Global Big Day.  

Presidents Unite for Panama's New Green Tourism Initiative!

On Earth Day, a press conference was held at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center about Panama's new Green Tourism inititative.  A major component of this initiative is to make Panama's national parks more accessible and attractive for wildlife observation and conservation.  The event was attended by many dignitaries, and here we have Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, Raul Arias de Para, President of the Canopy Family, and Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panama!  

Jeff Gordon, Raul Arias de Para and President Juan Carlos Varela

Canopy Family at the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival!

It was another great year at the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, hosted by Black Swamp Birding Observatory in Crane Creek, Ohio.  Canopy Family’s Carlos Bethancourt and Jenn Sinasac spent the peak of spring migration at the “Warbler Capital of the World”, as this festival is for the birds!  During this birding-oriented festival, Carlos and Jenn shared their love for birds, both tropical and temperate, with thousands of birders while leading birding hikes, giving presentations and promoting birding with us in Panama!  It was nice to see so many familiar faces and make new friends, and we hope to see you all in Panama!

Biggest Week 2015 Carlos PresentationBiggest Week 2015 Canopy Family

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Cheepers Canopy Tower April 2015

Cheepers! Birding on a Budget group ready to go birding at the Canopy Tower!  Special guests in this group are Liz and Jeff Gordon (front right), president of the American Birding Association.  They had a fantastic time at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge in April.

Creature Feature

Orange Nectar Bat

Orange Nectar Bat
Lonchophylla robusta

A vast majority of Panama’s mammals are bats.  Bats are wonderful—not only are they the only mammal with the ability to have full-powered flight, but they demonstrate an incredible diversity in form, habitat, food preferences and ecological importance.  One of our favorites is the Orange Nectar Bat, a beautiful, medium-sized bat of the lowlands and foothills of Panama.  As you guessed, they feed on nectar, as well as fruit, pollen and insects.  This lovely bat has plush orange and buffy hair.  It has relatively large ears and a long, tapered muzzle with a noseleaf.  It is known to roost in caves and suitable crevices.  Ranging from Nicaragua to Venezuela and Ecuador, it is fairly common in mid-elevation forests, and is a regular visitor to the hummingbird feeders at the Canopy Lodge at night.

© Canopy Family