Canopy Family Panama


The Birds of Central Panama

Black-chested Jay by Kathie Kinney
Black-chested Jay by Kathie Kinney

14-night, all-inclusive bird tour

Day 1
PM: Arrival, Orientation & Canopy Tower Observation Deck

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by our driver who will transfer you to the Canopy Tower, located at the top of Semaphore Hill in the rainforest of Soberanía National Park.  A member of our staff will greet you as you arrive at the Tower, and you will be provided with an orientation on the use of the facilities. At this time we will answer any questions you may have about our guided bird watching tours. As your luggage is being ferried to your room, you may visit the dining/bar area and enjoy a refreshing drink.  We highly recommend that you spend some time on the Observation Deck.  The view from the platform is incredible!  Here, you get a unique eye-level perspective of the rainforest canopy.  Many birds, including toucans, parrots, tanagers of various types, hawks, and dozens of others, as well as 2 species of sloths, monkeys and other mammals are commonly seen.  From this vantage point you can also see ships transiting the Panama Canal, the majestic Centennial Bridge and miles of rainforest!  You may also want to watch the hummingbird feeders at the base of the Tower for Long-billed Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Violet-bellied & Blue-chested hummingbirds and White-vented Plumeleteer. Occasionally, a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is spotted!  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Day 2
AM: Canopy Tower & Semaphore Hill Road

Your guide will be waiting for you at the Observation Deck for early morning guided bird watching. While you look for birds you can enjoy hot coffee, tea and orange juice. Some of the bird species that we are likely to see from the observation deck are Green & Red-legged honeycreepers, Green Shrike-Vireo, Blue Cotinga, Scaled Pigeon, Mealy & Red-lored parrots, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Araçari, flycatchers of various kinds and raptors, including King Vulture and Ornate Hawk-Eagle!  After breakfast, at mid-morning, you’ll begin your bird tour by exploring Soberanía National Park by taking a pleasant walk down Semaphore Hill Road. This winding, shady paved road, festooned on the shoulders by wildflowers of many types, is a little more than a mile long and crosses a large creek about half-way down.  The bird list here is extensive, and includes birds from the forest interior as well as edge-dwellers.  Olivaceous Flatbill, Plain Xenops, Lesser Greenlet, Black-breasted & White-whiskered puffbirds, Fasciated & Black-crowned (formerly Western Slaty) antshrikes, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Bay-headed & White-shouldered tanagers, Black-throated Trogon, Broad-billed & Rufous motmots and Great Jacamar may be found.  Great Tinamou is often heard, but is harder to find.  This road is also great for raptors. White, Tiny & Great Black hawks have been seen, and during migration it's easy to see more than 10 species of warblers and migratory songbirds in one morning. Your morning bird list will be impressive, as we get a much-welcomed ride back from this morning's bird tour, just in time to enjoy a delicious lunch at the CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Ammo Dump Ponds & Environs (15 min. from Canopy Tower)

The Ammo Dump Ponds are located just past Gamboa on the way to Pipeline Road. It is the best place to see the elusive White-throated Crake, as well as a host of other waterbirds.  Purple Gallinules are common, and Least Bittern, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Sora (winter) and American Pygmy-Kingfishers are also resident.  Here, we often find Olivaceous Piculet, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Southern Lapwing, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Scrub Greenlet and Panama, Social & Rusty-margined flycatchers, among others, in the surrounding trees & marshy fields. Hook-billed & Snail kites, Collared Forest-Falcon, Yellow-headed Caracara, Zone-tailed & Short-tailed hawks are here sometimes!  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Day 3
World Famous Pipeline Road (20 min. from Canopy Tower) FULL DAY BIRD TOUR

After breakfast you will continue your guided bird watching tour by boarding the Birdmobile or the Rainfomobile, both open-air vehicles, to take you to Pipeline Road, the best place in Central Panama to find forest birds, and one of the premier birding spots in the world! Eight species of wrens, 5 trogons, 4 puffbirds, 3 motmots, several tanagers, Great Jacamar, Common Potoo, Pheasant Cuckoo, Little Tinamou and many other birds have been recorded here, including the elusive Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo and the majestic Harpy Eagle! And if its 17 km are not enough, there's plenty of side trails, plus 11 creeks and rivers that can be followed into the forest.  We will also search for Streak-chested Antpitta and Black-faced Antthrush.  Army ant swarms are found frequently, attended by a host of birds including, Bicolored, Ocellated & Spotted antbirds. Plus, we will look for Golden-collared, Red-capped & Blue-crowned manakins, always enjoyed by birders.  Pipeline Road is also a great place for raptors. Three forest-falcons are resident and Tiny Hawk, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Ornate & Black hawk-eagles (soaring overhead), as well as Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Black-crowned & Masked tityras, Cinnamon & Crimson-crested woodpeckers, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Red-lored & Brown-hooded parrots, Collard Araçari, Black-mandibled & Keel-billed toucans, Black-striped, Northern Barred & Plain Brown woodcreepers may be found to name a few! After this morning's guided bird watching tour, we will enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Day 4
AM:  Pipeline Road Entrance (20 min. from Canopy Tower)

On today's bird tour, we head back Pipeline Road! Today we will concentrate our efforts at the beginning of Pipeline, another greatly diverse area full of birds. Greater Ani, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Masked Tityra, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Plain Wren, Streaked Flycatcher, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Squirrel Cuckoo, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Southern Bentbill, Forest Elaenia, Panama Flycatcher, Blue Ground-Dove and Little Tinamou. Other birds recorded here are Black-bellied & Buff-breasted wrens, Golden-collared Manakin, White-necked Puffbird, Gartered, Slaty-tailed, Black-throated, White-tailed & Black-tailed trogons, Purple-crowned Fairy, Yellow Tyrannulet, White-bellied & Dusky antbirds, Fasciated & Black-crowned antshrikes. During migration this entrance road is excellent for migrant warblers, flycatchers, grosbeaks and tanagers. Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Panama Rainforest Discovery Center (30 min. from Canopy Tower)

After lunch and a rest, we continue our guided bird watching tour at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, an ecotourism and environmental education facility created and administered by Fundacion Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann. It is located off Pipeline Road adjacent to Soberanía National Park. The center contains several attractions, the best of which is a 100-foot-tall observation tower, with 4 rest platforms—each stopping at a different layer of the rainforest. The view from the top is incredible! Here, we scan for hawks like Double-toothed Kite and Semiplumbeous Hawk. We will also take a quick bird tour through the 1.1 kilometer circuit of well-maintained forest trails, one ending at a pond, which is excellent for birds! Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Little Blue Heron and Sungrebe are often resident at the pond, and along the trails we look for White-necked Puffbird, motmots, trogons, manakins, antbirds, wrens, tanagers, flycatchers and many others. The covered Visitor Center has several hummingbird feeders (attracting species that may be photographed easily), bathrooms, lunch tables and a small gift shop with drinks and snacks. Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Day 5
AM: Metropolitan Natural Park (25 min. from Canopy Tower)

We will go to Metropolitan Natural Park for this morning's bird tour. "Metro Park," encompassing 265 hectares, has the distinction of being the only large forested park within a metropolitan capital in Latin America.  More importantly, it protects 192 hectares of Dry Lowland Pacific Forest, yielding bird species that are difficult to find elsewhere.  The beautiful Rosy Thrush-Tanager is here, as is the striking Lance-tailed Manakin.  It's also a good place to find Southern Bentbill, Rufous-and-white, Plain & Rufous-breasted wrens, Dusky Antbird, Crimson-crested, Lineated & Red-crowned woodpeckers. Plain-colored, Palm, Blue-gray & Golden-hooded tanagers are common; Red-legged & Green honeycreepers, Whooping Motmot (recent split from Blue-crowned), Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Araçari and the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet are resident along with Forest & Greenish elaenias. [In October & November, the overlook along Mono Titi trail is a good spot to witness the mass migration of thousands of Turkey Vultures, Swainson's & Broad-winged hawks as they fly over Panamá City toward their wintering grounds in South America.]  Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Summit Ponds & Old Gamboa Road (10 minutes from Canopy Tower)

Old Gamboa Road and the associated ponds at Summit are great places to find Canal Zone birds of many types. On this afternoon's guided bird watching tour at Summit Ponds, we will scan for Green, Striated, Capped & Boat-billed herons as well as Green, Ringed, Amazon, Green-and-rufous (rare) & American Pygmy kingfishers, which are all resident here! Also we seek out Rusty-margined & Streaked flycatchers, Lesser & Great kiskadees, Greater Ani, Mangrove Swallow, Bat Falcon, Cocoa Woodcreeper and Lineated Woodpecker.  Going straight past the two ponds you'll be on Old Gamboa Road, one of the birdiest spots around.  This road passes through a variety of habitats and has plenty of specialties, including Blue Ground-Dove, Great Antshrike, Jet Antbird, Black-tailed, Bran-colored & Royal flycatchers, Lance-tailed & Golden-collared manakins and the delightful Rosy Thrush-Tanager!  We also will find species like White-bellied Antbird, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Yellow-backed Oriole, Boat-billed & Fork-tailed flycatchers, Yellow-headed Caracara, Crane Hawk, Black-chested Jays and more.  Also resident are Gray-headed Chachalaca, with Spectacled Owl a real possibility, too, as the guides know where they often roost.  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.

Day 6
Cerro Azul & Cerro Jefe (1 hr. from Canopy Tower) FULL DAY

After breakfast we continue our bird tour on the hills above Tocumen where a completely different climate and, more importantly, a different suite of birds awaits! The weather will be much cooler & breezier as we descend the foothills of the San Blas Mountains toward Cerro Azul (2,500 ft.) and Cerro Jefe (3,300 ft.), named after the two tall peaks in the area.  Major targets in these cloud-forested hills with peaks of elfin forest will include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Spot-crowned Barbet, Black-eared Wood-Quail, and a nice mix of tanagers, including Silver-throated, Emerald, Speckled, Rufous-winged, Bay-headed, Black-and-yellow, Golden-hooded and Hepatic.  We can also search for the specialty hummers, including Rufous-crested Coquette, White-tipped Sicklebill, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Green Thorntail, as well as Violet-capped, Violet-headed & Snowy-bellied hummingbirds!  We should also find the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, along with Lineated Woodpecker, Black-striped & Spotted woodcreepers, Red-capped & White-ruffed manakins, Russet Antshrike, and White-vented & Tawny-capped euphonias.  We have lunch at a picturesque residence overlooking miles of Chagres National Park's impressive rainforest! Later, while enjoying dinner at the CANOPY TOWER, we all will reminisce on all the glorious birds that we saw on today's guided bird watching tour!

Day 7
AM: Plantation Trail (5 min. from Canopy Tower)

After breakfast, we continue our bird tour at the bottom of Semaphore Hill to Plantation Trail, one of our premier birding areas. This easy trail passes through mature rainforest and follows a small creek (Rio Chico Masambi) and is a reliable place to find Golden-crowned Spadebills.  Oftentimes at the parking area near the entrance, we find Black-chested Jays.  Other birds to look for along the trail include Ocellated, Bicolored, Chestnut-backed, White-bellied & Spotted antbirds; Broad-billed & Whooping motmots, trogons, White-whiskered Puffbird, hummers (Blue-chested, White-necked Jacobin and others); Plain Brown, Northern Barred & Cocoa woodcreepers; Cinnamon, Crimson-crested & Black-cheeked woodpeckers; White-breasted Wood-Wren, Song Wren, Dot-winged, Checker-throated & White-flanked antwrens; Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Bright-rumped Attila, Gray-headed Tanager, Long-billed Gnatwren, Black-crowned & Fasciated antshrikes, Red-capped & Blue-crowned manakins, Great Tinamou, Ruddy-tailed, Royal & Yellow-margined flycatchers, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Scaly-throated Leaftosser and occasionally, a Great Jacamar or the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet!  Lunch at CANOPY TOWER.

PM: Chagres River/Gamboa Feeders (15 min. from Canopy Tower)

After lunch, we continue our guided bird watching tour by taking a short drive to Chagres River and the accompanying fields & forest. First, we must stop at the Canopy Bed & Breakfast in the picturesque village of Gamboa, to look at the bird feeders!  With a beautiful backdrop of Cerro Pelado, the backyard at the Canopy B&B is teeming with bird life.  At the fruit feeders, we are likely to see Red-legged, Shining & Green honeycreepers, Flame-rumped, Crimson-backed & Blue-gray tanagers, Thick-billed Euphonia, Yellow-bellied & Variable seedeaters, Whooping Motmot and Gray-headed Chachalaca.  Next, we're off to Chagres River, the main tributary for the Panama Canal. The birding along the river banks and the forest edges of Gamboa Resort can make today's guided bird watching tour spectacular! Here, we search for Amazon, Green & American Pygmy kingfishers, as well as, Whooping Motmot and Cinnamon Woodpecker.  We could also see Gray-Necked Wood-Rail, Cocoi, Green & Striated herons, Wattled Jacana, Pied-billed Grebe, Anhinga, Royal & Sandwich terns, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Tricolored & Little Blue herons, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Mangrove Swallow, Black-chested Jay, Lesser Kiskadee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cacique, Black-bellied & Buff-breasted wrens, Fasciated & Barred antshrikes, Cinnamon Becard, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Antbird, and even Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon and Blue Cotinga at times!  Dinner at CANOPY TOWER.


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