If you are having trouble reading this email, please click here.
Canopy Family

October 2014

Featured Bird

Tody Motmot by Doug Weschler

Tody Motmot
Hylomanes momotula

The smallest member of the motmot family, the Tody Motmot is a curious creature.  It is a plump bird, only 18 cm (7”) in length, olive with a bright green back, russet nape, black mask with a white stripe underneath, and a turquoise brow.  It has a short, narrow tail and lacks the rackets on the tips of its tail that all the other motmots possess.  Tody Motmots can be found in dense, dark understory of foothills cloud forest, often by ravines.  They are most often detected by their call, a series of low-pitched whistles.  They are insectivorous, and catch large insects by sallying from branches in the understory.  The Tody Motmot has a patchy and fragmented distribution from southern Mexico to northwest Colombia.  In Panama, they are generally uncommon; one of the best places to see them is around the Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Anton, where they stay well concealed in the quiet cloud forests, and are one of our main target birds there! 

Cool Fact: The Tody Motmot gets its name from its superficial resemblance to the small todies of the Caribbean islands.

Focus on Plants

Gustavia superba

Gustavia superba

Also known as Heaven Lotus Tree and Sachamango, the Membrillo tree is a common understory forest tree of lowland rainforests from Costa Rica to Ecuador and Venezuela.  It grows 5-10 m (16-33’) tall and is characterized by a narrow trunk, branching near the crown, and groups of long, waxy, dark leaves that radiate at the tips of the branches, similar to cecropias and palms.  It flowers from March to June and fruits from June to August.  The large, attractive flowers are white with a purple-pink wash, and despite their beautiful appearance, have a rather repugnant odor!  However, this odor attracts its insect pollinators, including Euglossine (orchid) bees.  The fruits are large and pear-shaped, with a hard green exterior and yellowish-orange pulp inside, which contains several large seeds.  They grow off the trunk and large branches of the tree, a behavior called “cauliflory”, to better support the weight of the heavy fruit.  The foul-smelling fruits are eaten by White-faced Capuchin monkeys and agoutis.  Agoutis are also responsible for seed dispersal.  In some regions, the pulp of Membrillo is boiled to eat and has a meaty flavor.  The fruits are also high in vitamins A, B and C and phosphorus.  The leaves are a favorite food of iguanas.  They are very common in the lowland forests of central Panama, around all the Canopy Family lodges.

Membrillo flower by Mary Ann Good

Photo of the Month

Violet-bellied Hummingbird by Stephanie Ripma

Stephanie Ripma captured this gorgeous male Violet-bellied Hummingbird at the Canopy Tower during her visit early this month.  Hummingbirds are very popular to photograph here, they make spectacular subjects!  Click on the photo for a larger image. 

Recent Sightings and Trip Reports

In the past month we have had great sightings of White-throated Crake, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Spectacled Owl, and rarities including Harpy Eagle, Bicolored Hawk, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker and Pearly-breasted Cuckoo!  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!

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 and Canopy B&B.  If you haven't visited us yet, check out what others are saying!

"From our prompt greeting at the airport in Panama City to our departure, we were treated like VIPs.  Our room was spacious and cleaned daily.  Every meal was delicious, and way too much food.  We had a Sea Bass that was so tasty we gave it 5 stars.  We were the only guests for two and a half days!  Talk about being royalty and having private guides.  And what about the 5:30 AM Howler Monkey alarm clock?  No problem."

Dotty Lamolinara & Bill Supulski, Mission, TX
Stayed at Canopy Tower in September 2014

View past issues of our newsletter

Follow the Canopy Family

Canopy Family FacebookCanopy Family Twitter

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

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

Stumped?  Visit our Canopy Family Flickr Photostream and browse our photos for this upcoming featured bird!

Greetings from the Canopy...

Dear Friends, 

On September 30, Panama opened the BioMuseo, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.  Exhibition halls feature the great biodiversity of the isthmus, where more species of birds, mammals and reptiles have been recorded than in the USA and Canada combined.  Naturally, Panama is the perfect place for this exciting new attraction at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, where two continents meet.  A visit to the BioMuseo is a great addition to any nature enthusiast's adventure in Panama.

The response to our new tour, Panama’s Brilliant Butterflies, has been gratifying.  We are excited to explore the fascinating world of butterflies and are looking forward to our inaugural tour coming up in December; there are still a couple spaces remaining, please contact us for more information. 

We are also introducing a new newsletter feature, “Upcoming Deals”.  Keep an eye on this section for special deals and promotions at the Canopy Family lodges.

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

Introducing "El Arpía"
Canopy Camp's Rugged Birdmobile

Darién is Panama's least-inhabited, most biodiverse province, home to dozens of regional endemics and some of Tropical America's most sought-after birds and animals.  Birding in Darién is somewhat adventurous-—its rugged landscape and winding, bumpy roads are part of the grand experience itself!  Naturally, we have the best birding vehicle to handle the rugged terrain.  Meet "EL ARPIA", Canopy Camp's rugged 4x4 Landcruiser birdmobile and the newest member of the birdmobile family, named after our majestic national bird!  El Arpia seats up to 12 passengers in the back and is ready to go birding in Darién!

Canopy Camp Birdmobile

A Harpy Eagle Story

In late 2008, a young Harpy Eagle was shot in Darién.  She was barely ready to leave her nest, and still under the close watch of her parents.  With much luck, she was rescued and hurried to Panama City where, under the diligent care of the Peregrine Fund biologists and veterinarians, she underwent surgery to repair her damaged wing.  The Peregrine Fund, an organization for the conservation of raptors, has studied Harpy Eagles in Panama for over two decades to learn more about these majestic birds.  When she gained enough strength, she was fitted with radio and satellite transmitters, and banded with a blue metal band with the initials “LV”.  She was released along Pipeline Road on March 9, 2009, and was under close watch by Peregrine Fund volunteers to ensure her continued recovery in the wild and overall wellbeing. 

On the morning of September 24, our driver Lorenzo Ibarra saw a VERY large bird fly and land in a tree beside the Canopy Tower.  Excitement filled the Tower as the guests and staff, including our resident biologist Jenn Sinasac, got great looks at a Harpy Eagle perched in the crown of the large tree.  Jenn saw that she had an antenna on her back from a radio transmitter and a blue band on her leg that read, “LV”.  Back in 2009, Jenn volunteered on the Peregrine Fund’s Harpy Eagle project.  She was there for her release and spent several months tracking her in Soberania National Park.  This eagle, affectionately named “Love”, was only 2 years old at the time of her release.  Now, 5½ years later, she is in full adult plumage and perfect condition. 

It was a wonderful surprise for our guests and staff at the Canopy Tower.  Even more, this eagle has a touching success story and we hope the best for her.

Harpy Eagle releaseHarpy Eagle

"LV" the Harpy Eagle on the day of her release in March 2009, and as a mature bird at the Canopy Tower on September 24, 2014.  

Upcoming Deals

November Single Room Special at the Canopy Tower!

Canopy Tower Single Room

Save 20% on a stay in the Canopy Tower single rooms during November 23-30, 2014. 
Our single rooms have fantastic views of the surrounding forest midstory, and offer all the comfort as our full size rooms.  This last minute deal applies to both single room rates and package deals for individuals at the Canopy Tower.  Returning customers save an additional 5%.  Treat yourself to an early Christmas nature vacation at the Canopy Tower!  Please contact us to book this last-minute deal and enjoy birding in Panama with outstanding savings!

Great Reviews Continue for Canopy Camp Darien

Our old friend Ira Rubinoff, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, was recently at Canopy Camp Darien, and we just received this note from him:

Dear Denise and Raul,

Thank you so much for inviting me to experience the new Bird Watching resort in Darién last week-end. It was a wonderful experience and one that I will recommend to others. You are to be congratulated for your vision and for demonstrating that eco businesses are both worthy of people’s investments and an important tool for conserving the unique natural resources of Panama. Most of all, it was great having a chance to spend some time together again.

Good luck with the camp.


Check out our Canopy Camp TripAdvisor page for more recent reviews about our newest eco-lodge.  In just several months of being open, we are increasing our rank as a premier lodge in Darién, Panama.  

Leica 7x42 Ultravid

Athena, Leica's Wandering Ultravid, Visits Us

In September, Athena, Leica's wandering 7x42 Ultravid, visited all of the Canopy Family properties.  Starting with a night at the Canopy B&B, she picked up some of the common backyard birds of central Panama with her wide field of view.  Then she was off on a special trip to Canopy Camp Darien, where she added many species to her life list through her high-quality lenses.  Athena then joined the Leica and Eagle Optics sponsored tour from September 9-16 where she continued to bird at the Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge and Canopy Adventure.  She saw a total of 360 species of birds during her trip to Panama!  Read all about Athena's Panama adventure on The Traveling Trinovid Blog.  Well done, Athena!  


Canopy Family proudly uses Leica Sport Optics binoculars and spotting scopes exclusively, the best in high-quality nature observation optics.  Our guests enjoy crystal-clear views of birds and wildlife on all of our tours.  

Recent Guests at Our Lodges

Canopy Tower Observation Deck

Happy birders enjoy a sunny morning on the observation deck at the Canopy Tower in early October.  Left to right: Canopy Tower guide Carlos Bethancourt, Valyn Dall, Murray Gardler, Bruce Thompson, Tomás and Concha Velasco, and Rob and Stephanie Ripma.

Creature Feature

Red-webbed Tree Frog

Red-webbed Tree Frog
Hypsiboas rufitelus

The nocturnal Red-webbed Tree Frog is an appealing, medium-sized (4-5 cm, 1.5-2”) tree frog of the lowland forests from Nicaragua to Panama.  Also known as the Canal Zone Tree Frog, these frogs are identified by their light-green back speckled with white and dark spots, greenish-blue armpits and groin, and silvery-bronze eyes.  They have extensive and distinct red webbing between their toes.  Their pale bluish underside is almost completely transparent, and their orange liver is visible.  Like some other tree frogs, males have a sharp, bony spine at the base of their thumb, used in male-to-male combat.  Although they are seldom seen outside of their reproductive season when they come to forest swamps to mate, peaking during the heaviest rainy periods (August-October), males call throughout the year, a series of high-pitched clucks.  They are locally common in the correct habitat, and are often seen sitting on leaves in low vegetation at night in the Canopy Lodge garden.

© Canopy Family