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November 4th marked the one-year anniversary of the Harpy that was seen at the Harrison residence in Cerro Azul. This mightiest of the New World raptors and Panama's national bird, was digiscoped from their terrace early that morning. This particular Harpy was believed to be a wild juvenile, as no captive releases had occurred in this area. "It stared at us for a couple of minutes before swooping down to a branch in our backyard, just out of view," Linda Harrison reported. What a yard bird!
Cerro Azul is not the only location to look for these extremely rare symbols of mature Neotropical forest. It has been found along Pipeline Road, as well as other nearby locales. So come to Panama and try your luck, for not only this magnificent creature, but also for the hundreds of other tropical birds and mammals, many found during our birding and natural history tours!
Focus on Plants
These dainty little plants stand out like jewels on the forest floor during the wet season, in dark, moist areas with heavy leaf litter. Voyria species are myco-heterotrophs (formally called saprotrophs), plants that obtain their energy not by traditional photosynthesis using chlorophyll, but rather by parasitizing fungi, which live in close association with the plant's roots. The fungus does the work of breaking down the organic molecules the plant requires. Voyria's stems are pale, and its leaves are "achlorophyllous," having been been reduced to bract-like scales. Nineteen species range from the Florida Everglades through Mesoamerica and much of South America, where shady tropical conditions occur. Look for it along Semaphore Hill or Pipeline and at similar habitats near the Canopy Lodge.
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Greetings from the Canopy...
I am very pleased to announce that we have a new addition to our species lists: Dragonflies & Damselflies! Thanks to Dennis Paulson and Dave Smallshire, who led our first ever odonate tour, for donating their species list, text and excellent accompanying photos for use on our website. This resource will be an excellent tool for any visiting researchers or enthusiasts who are studying this diverse order of insects.
I would also like to call your attention to an excellent trip report we recently uploaded to our website. William Young, of Washington, D.C., gives us a detailed, day-by-day account of his two-week adventure he recently spent with us. Bill certainly has the ability to convey a wealth of interesting natural history details in a enjoyable and easy-to-read manner, reminding me of the writings of ornithologist/botanist Alexander Skutch.
Finally, we had guests all the way from Bulgaria. First-place winners of our online essay contest, Iva Hristova-Nikolova & Dr. Boris Nikolov, joined us for a 10-day tour and had a wonderful time. Iva and Boris run www.fotobiota.com, a wildlife photography and video company. They plan to produce a video about the birds of Panama.
Best wishes, and I hope to see
Raúl Arias de Para
Canopy Tower Family News
Barry Zimmer's VENT group at Canopy Lodge
Two VENT (Victor Emanuel Nature Tours) birding groups recently visited the Canopy Tower Family. VENT's "Fall at Panama's Canopy Tower" was led by David Ascanio, and Barry Zimmer headed "Panama: Fall at El Valle's Canopy Lodge." Both groups enjoyed awesome food, great birding and fabulous natural history!
Snub-nosed Treefrog Smilisca sila
This medium size (4.5-6.2 cm.) treefrog has a short rounded nose and body appearance. Dark and light blue spots mark the concealed thigh areas of this hylid. It is rather common in Soberania National Park and around the Lodge in El Valle where, during the proper season, several males gather to unleash their high-pitched squawks and rattling calls in fast-paced back-to-back succession, followed by a period of silence.