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Canopy Family

November 2013

Featured Bird

Golden-hooded Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager
Tangara larvata

The brightly-colored Golden-hooded Tanager is a member of the genus Tangara—the largest and most colorful group of Tanagers.  This small (13 cm in length) tanager is black with a bright golden hood, a black and blue mask, turquoise shoulder, flanks and rump, and a white belly.  Their call is a variable, sharp “tick” and a short, high-pitched trill.  They live in tropical lowland forest edges, where they actively forage among branches and leaves.  Like other tanagers, their diet consists of fruits and berries, particularly melastomes (primarily Miconia), Cecropia and Ficus.  They are almost always found in pairs, and often travel in small family groups; they occasionally join mixed flocks.  They are a common resident around our lodges, and frequently visit our fruit feeders. 

Did you know?  They are known locally as “siete colores” in Spanish, meaning seven colors.

Focus on Plants

Machete Plant

Erythrina costaricensis

Also known as Poro and Palo Santo, the Machete plant is a member of the pea family, Fabaceae.  This shrub or small tree grows 3-7 meters tall, and has a short, spined trunk with multiple branches.  The leaves have three heart-shaped leaflets approximately 25 cm long each.  The bright red flowers give this plant its name—the flower standards are long, narrow tubes up to 9 cm long, and are shaped like the blade of a machete.  The standards are arranged in an inflorescence at the end of branches.  Characteristic of the family, they produce a legume (fruit) containing several bright red seeds.  Each pod is 15-25 cm long, which twists and opens at maturity to expose the seeds.  This tree flowers from September to October, and fruits mature in November and December, usually shedding all the seeds by March.  This plant is used by many animals—the leaves are a food source for some butterflies and moths, and many birds visit the nectar-rich flowers, including larger understory hummingbirds such as the Long-billed Hermit.  In Panama, it is common and widespread in the forests across the country, and can be found in the vicinity of the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.

Photo of the Month

Guest scientist Dr. Howard Topoff captured this stunning photo of a Pink-tipped Satyr (Cithaerias pireta) at Cerro Gaital during our tropical biodiversity tour this month.  Click on the photo for larger image. 

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the last 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 & 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 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 we are getting closer to our grand opening of Canopy Camp Darien, the excitement among everyone involved down here seems to grow more and more every day.   Plans and construction are progressing well, seven out of eight tents are already installed, and we will open the new eco-lodge on January 19, 2014, with a VENT tour led by Kevin Zimmer.  New birds and wildlife continue to be sighted around the camp, and recently Moyo Rodriguez took this video of Great Green Macaws, seen right from the camp, for the very first time!  There is so much to be excited about.

The hawk migration season is coming to an end, and I invite you to check out our hawk count data from the Canopy Tower this year.  Our official hawk counter, Cesar Pinzon, had a busy but great season, with cooperative weather and of course, lots of raptors!  Our biggest count day was November 4, when over 78,000 raptors passed over the tower, and over 308,000 raptors were counted in total this fall migration season! 


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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News

Victor Emanuel Celebrates His Birthday at the Canopy Tower

Victor Emanuel Birthday

Our dear friend Victor Emanuel, founder of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT), recently visited us in September on his personal vacation, and then again with a VENT group in October!  Even better, it was his birthday!  We could not let this go uncelebrated—our chefs prepared a special meal at the Canopy Tower, and dinner on the terrace was followed up with dessert and an entertaining traditional dance presentation by Genesis and Eduardo from Maria Auxiliadora Catholic Elementary School, in honor of our special guest.  Feliz cumpleaños, Victor!

Victor Emanuel BirthdayVictor Emanuel Birthday

Dinner on the terrace and dancing in celebration of Victor's birthday at the Canopy Tower.

Canopy Lodge featured in Salon.com

"The Canopy Lodge is to birding as Las Vegas is to gambling"  

The Canopy Lodge was recently featured in the article "Best Eco-Tourism Resorts and Hotels within Five Hours from the United States" at Salon.com.  

Recent Guests at our Lodges

Creature Feature

Central American Whiptail

Central American Whiptail
Ameiva festiva

The Central American Whiptail is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling lizard of the lowland forests of Central America.  It is a sleek, smooth-scaled lizard with a long tail; it is brown overall with a light vertebral stripe and light dots and dashes on its dark flanks.  Males have a brilliant blue underside, while females have a bronze belly.  Juveniles are the most striking, with an electric blue tail, which fades to brown in adults.  They reach a length of 34.5 cm as adults, and males are slightly larger than females.  This diurnal lizard is most active during the morning and early afternoon, and are most often seen on warm, sunny days.  They forage for arthropods, including insects and spiders, on the forest floors, and are often seen basking along roadsides on sunny days.  They reproduce year-round; females lay up to 4 clutches per year.  Locally known as "borriguero" in Panama, the Central American Whiptail is a common resident in the forests surrounding the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge and are most often seen basking along Pipeline Road on a sunny day.  

Fast runners:  When encountered, Central American Whiptails often dash for safety, offering just a quick glimpse before disappearing into the leaf litter.

Yellow-tailed Oriole

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

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

© Canopy Family