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Canopy Family

October 2013

Featured Bird

Rufous-crested Coquette

Rufous-crested Coquette
Lophornis delattrei

This flashy hummingbird is one of Panama’s tiniest birds, with a length of only 7 cm, and weighs just under 3 grams!  Males are stunning—they have a dark green body with an elongated rufous crest and a green gorget ornately tipped with white.  Females lack the crest and are mainly a green-brown color with a rufous forecrown and throat.  They feed on brightly-colored, low-flowering plants around shrubby clearings and forest edges.  With their long tongue, they can lick up nectar from flowers up to 13 times per second!  They also feed on small insects and spiders as a source of protein, especially during the breeding season.  The Rufous-crested Coquette is found in tropical lowland and moist montane forests from Panama south through western South America to Bolivia.  In Panama, they are found locally around the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.  

Super Mom!  Males do not take part in the breeding process after mating; the female is responsible for choosing the nest location, building the nest and raising the chicks.  A nesting female can capture up to 2000 insects per day!

Focus on Plants

Panama Hat Plant

Panama Hat Plant
Carludovica palmata

Often called the Panama Hat Palm for its palm-like appearance, it is not a true palm since it lacks a woody trunk.  The soft, flexible, durable young leaves of Carludovica palmata are used to weave the famous Panama hats—stylish handmade brimmed straw hats—and other artisan items such as baskets and mats.  It takes 6 young leaves to make 1 Panama hat.  It has a long narrow stalk and palmate leaves, and grows 1-2 meters (5-8 feet) tall.  It reproduces vegetatively, and does not produce viable seeds.  The female flowers mature first, and have large stigmas; later, the male flowers mature and are full of pollen.  Weevils are the key pollinators of its flowers.  The Panama Hat plant is cultivated from Central America to Bolivia, and is commonly found in the forests around the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.

Panama Hat

Did you know?  The famous Panama hats actually originate in Ecuador.  There are a few theories why they are called “Panama hats”—they were first exported to North America through Central America, and Panama was the first country they entered.  Ecuador was and still is the main supplier of Panama hats, and exports 1 million hats annually.  Click here for more information about Panama hats!

Unusual & Unique Hotels of the World

The Canopy Tower, in all its unique glory, is featured in Wanderlust Travel Magazine as one of the top 5 unique places to stay in Latin America.  You can enter for your chance to win a copy of Unusual and Unique Overnight Directory by Steve Dobson, where of course, you will find the Canopy Tower inside!

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Greetings from the Canopy...

Dear Friends, 

October may be our rainiest month, but that’s not to deter our eager guests and guides, as this lush season brings an even greater abundance of birds and wildlife and fresh, tropical flora to accompany the experience.  It is a wonderful time of year.

The migrants from North America have arrived again—Eastern Kingbirds sally from open branches while Canada Warblers forage in the trees and Northern Waterthrushes bob around on the ground.  It’s a great time of year, and with the return of the migrants, we boost our daily checklists even more!  October is also the peak of the hawk migration season, and our official raptor counter, Cesar Pinzon, is on the observation deck of the Canopy Tower daily, counting tens of thousands of Turkey Vultures, Mississippi Kites, Broad-winged and Swainson’s hawks as they pass through the isthmus to their wintering grounds.  Check out this year's hawk migration reports from the Canopy Tower.  To experience the best of the hawk migration here in Panama, check out our Hawk Migration Spectacular tour.     

Last month we launched the new Canopy Camp Darien website, and thank you for your views, it was very well received!  Keep checking in as we have started posting recent sightings, including the first reports of Blue-and-yellow and Great Green macaws, from the new eco-lodge.  Construction is coming to an end soon, and we will be ready for you in 2014!


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


Raúl Arias de Para - President/Founder

Canopy Family News


Introduction to Tropical Biodiversity – two spaces available!

We are looking forward to our upcoming Introduction to Tropical Biodiversity tour, November 6-14, 2013.  This exciting tour features guest scientists, Dr. Howard Topoff and Dr. Carol Simon, bringing with them a wealth of information about Neotropical environments, joining us as we explore the forests around the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge for birds, mammals, butterflies and more.  In addition to finding animals in the forest with our expert guides, our guest scientists will entertain us nightly with fascinating multimedia presentations.  We have had a last-minute cancellation and are offering two spaces on this tour for a discounted price of $2360 per person, a savings of $590!  Please contact us to book your space on this special one-time-only tour.  We hope to see you in November!

Canopy Tower Best Ecolodge 2013

Canopy Tower: Wildforests Best Ecolodge 2013

We are happy to announce that the Ancient Forests Foundation has selected the Canopy Tower as one of the receipients of its annual awards, Wildforests Best Ecolodge 2013.  This award is presented to ecolodges all over the world that engage in ecotourism and its supporting role in promoting conservation in terms of service, engagement of the local community, regional conservation and sustainability. 

Venice Audubon Canopy TowerVenice Audubon Canopy Lodge

Venice Area Audubon Society enjoying birdwatching this October at the Canopy Tower (left) and Canopy Lodge (right)

Many of our guests choose to visit both the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.  We offer tours that spend time at both lodges, which allows our guests to explore different habitats and to see different species.  Soon, the Canopy Camp in Darien will be open, maximizing diversity for the ultimate, 3-lodge birding holiday!

Creature Feature

Lesser Capybara

Lesser Capybara
Hydrochoerus isthmius

The Lesser Capybara is a large, semi-aquatic rodent, very closely related to the Capybara (H. hydrochaeris) found in the Amazon.  Hydrochoerus means “water hog” and like their larger cousins, Lesser Capybaras are found in a variety of habitats near water—marshes, ponds, lagoons, riversides—in tropical moist lowlands.  They are found from central Panama through northwestern Colombia and western Venezuela.  They live in family groups, usually from 10-30 members.  Capybaras are true vegetarians, and feed on water plants and grasses.  Similar to other semi-aquatic mammals like hippos, their eyes, ears and nostrils are located on the top of their head, so they can stay almost completely submerged under the water; they can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes to hide from predators.  Lesser Capybaras are found commonly along the Chagres River near the Canopy Tower, and are always a memorable sighting on our Mammals Tour.  

Rodents of Unusual Size:  The two species of Capybara are the world’s largest rodents!  Adult Lesser Capybaras grow up to a meter in length and weigh up to 30 kg (66 lbs)!

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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