Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis Photo by David Tipling One of our most charismatic birds, we think all would agree, is the Red-lored Parrot. Common throughout Panama, and at over a foot in length, this species is one of the largest parrots we encounter at the Canopy Family lodges. The Red-lored Parrot is well-named for its bright red forehead and lores (the space between the eyes and bill on a bird) which distinguish this large green parrot from other Amazona parrot species in Panama. It has a bluish tinge on the crown and nape feathers, and some subspecies have yellowish cheeks. It shows a red patch in the secondary flight feathers when in flight. It has a bicolored bill with a distinct black tip and pale base. The tail is tipped with yellow. Males and females have the same plumage. In Panama, the local subspecies (salvini) lacks yellow in the cheeks! Red-lored Parrots are best seen early in the morning when they fly, usually in pairs, to their daily feeding areas, where they feed primarily on seeds and nuts, then again in the late afternoon when they fly to their evening roosts. Amazona parrots (also including the Mealy Parrot and the Yellow-crowned Parrot in Panama) fly with stiff, shallow, rapid wingbeats, distinguishing them in flight from some of the other species of parrots. They are vocal in flight, but usually silent during the day when feeding, and being primarily green, they blend in very nicely in the crowns of leafy trees. Red-lored Parrot calls are similar to the slightly larger Mealy Parrot, with loud, harsh flight calls but slightly higher pitched, and giving a distinct “crack-er-jack” call in the Canal area of Panama, not heard in other parts of its range – a local dialect! The Red-lored Parrot is found in the
Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis Photo by David Tipling One of our most charismatic birds, we think all would agree, is the Red-lored Parrot. Common throughout Panama, and at over a foot in length,
Dusky-backed Jacamar Brachygalba salmoni Photo by Uwe Speck The charming Dusky-backed Jacamar is one of our Darién specialties, found only in a tiny range on the border between Panama and Colombia. It is a small jacamar, only 17 cm in length, greenish-black above with glossy dark green on breast, a dark brown crown and white throat (throat is more buffy in females), and a cinnamon belly. It has a short tail, unlike the other two jacamar species found in Panama. Its bill is very long and slender, and when perched it angles its bill upward. The Dusky-backed Jacamar, like many other species of jacamars, prefers open habitats, clearings, gaps and forest edges and somewhat disturbed habitats. It is typically found in pairs or small family groups. Perching high on exposed horizontal branches, it sallies out to catch flying insects, including beetles, moths, butterflies, bees and wasps, often returning to the same branch. It is fairly vocal (yet not as vocal as the Rufous-tailed Jacamar); its call is an upward inflected “psee” or “sweet” repeated frequently. The breeding ecology of the Dusky-backed Jacamar is poorly known, and like others, it probably nests in banks. Birds have been reported in breeding condition in January and February. The Dusky-backed Jacamar is the smallest of the three species of jacamar in Panama. Even though the ranges of all three species overlap in Darién, they are very distinct from each other in appearance and habitat preference. In Panama, the Dusky-backed Jacamar is found only in the lowlands of Darién, up to 600 meters in elevation, where it is uncommon to locally common. The Dusky-backed Jacamar is one of our prime target species at the Canopy Camp, where it is usually encountered along rivers and open areas.
Dusky-backed Jacamar Brachygalba salmoni Photo by Uwe Speck The charming Dusky-backed Jacamar is one of our Darién specialties, found only in a tiny range on the border between Panama and Colombia. It is
White-eared ConebillConirostrum leucogenys Photo by Rafael Lau Panama’s only conebill, the White-eared Conebill is a pint-sized member of the tanager family. Conebills are named for their thin, straight, conical bill characteristic of the genus. At only 8 cm in length, they are a compact bird with a short tail. Males are distinguished by a black crown, prominent white cheek patch, unstreaked dark gray back and wings and light gray underparts, and a rufous vent. Females are much duller, with gray upperparts and buffy face and underparts, with a whitish rump. White-rumped Conebills forage for insects and nectar in the forest canopy, forest edge, and can also be found in woodlands, from sea level to 800 meters in elevation. They prefer drier forest, and particularly favor areas with Cuipo trees. They are usually found in pairs or small groups, and occasionally in mixed feeding flocks. They are often detected by their call, a series of thin, high-pitched tinkling notes. The White-eared Conebill ranges from eastern Panama to Colombia and northern Venezuela. It is fairly common in the lowlands of eastern Panama province and Darién, and one of the more charming species to find around the Canopy Camp.
White-eared ConebillConirostrum leucogenys Photo by Rafael Lau Panama’s only conebill, the White-eared Conebill is a pint-sized member of the tanager family. Conebills are named for their thin, straight, conical bill characteristic of the
Great Potoo Nyctibius grandis Photo by Carlos Bethancourt One of the more unusual birds of the Neotropics, the Great Potoo is a desired species on anyone’s list! The largest of the potoos, the Great Potoo is nearly half a meter long, with a large, round head, large brown eyes that reflect yellow-orange at night, and a short but very broad beak. It is pale gray to brownish overall – larger and paler than the Common Potoo, also found in Panama. It is best known for its unusual habits and even more unusual call – a loud roar bWAARRRR! that can be heard after dark. Great Potoos are residents of the lowland rainforests of Central and South America. Primarily a lowlands species, they have been recorded up to 1000 meters, but are more commonly found below 500 meters in elevation. They live in the upper levels of the forest, and can also be found in adjacent clearings with large trees and along rivers. Related to nightjars, Great Potoos are nocturnal. By day, they roost motionless on a large limb, blending in very well to resemble a broken-off branch. They are truly masters of camouflage! When relaxed, they hold their head in a normal position, beak pointing forward. But if detected or threatened while roosting, they stretch their head and body upward, pointing their bill up toward the sky, to camouflage even more as a dead branch. They close their eyes, but their upper eyelids have slits so that they can still detect movement nearby. At night, they perch on exposed snags in the canopy of the forest, where they sally out and catch large flying insects such as beetles and katydids in their wide mouths, and will even catch bats on occasion! At night, they are easily located by their bright eyeshine
Great Potoo Nyctibius grandis Photo by Carlos Bethancourt One of the more unusual birds of the Neotropics, the Great Potoo is a desired species on anyone’s list! The largest of the potoos, the
White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis Photo by David Tipling A small, elusive rail of the swamps, marshes and wetlands of Panama, the White-throated Crake, like many rails, is much more often heard than seen. It is a slender rail, 14-16 cm in length. It has a rufous brown head, neck, back and wings, and is especially rufous on the sides of its head, neck and breast. It has black and white barring on its flanks and undertail coverts. As the name suggests, its white throat is characteristic. Immature birds are duller above and have gray sides of head and breast. In Bocas del Toro (western Panama), the White-throated Crake has a grayish crown. It has red eyes, a short, greenish bill and greenish-gray legs. Sexes are alike, but males are slightly bigger and heavier than females. The White-throated Crake is the most common small rail in Panama; however, it is seldom seen due to its secretive nature. It hides in the tall grasses of marshes, wetlands and overgrown ditches, and is very difficult to flush. It can be easily detected by its call, a long, fast explosive trill that fades off at the end. It is very vocal and will respond to playback, but even if it does emerge from the grasses usually it gives just a glimpse. It is one of our guests’ most-wanted birds around the Canopy Family lodges due to its elusive behavior! White-throated Crakes feed on insects, spiders, grass seeds, algae and some fruits. They forage at water's edge in wetlands, scouring grasses and calling frequently. Not much is known about their reproductive ecology, but they have been observed building a ball-shaped grassy nest with a side entrance. Eggs are creamy white with reddish-brown spots. White-throated Crakes are found in the lowlands and foothills to 1600 meters
White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis Photo by David Tipling A small, elusive rail of the swamps, marshes and wetlands of Panama, the White-throated Crake, like many rails, is much more often heard than seen.
Pheasant Cuckoo Dromococcyx phasianellus Photo by Rafael Lau The Pheasant Cuckoo is one of Tropical America’s most intriguing birds, with its long, full, tapering tail, small head, distinct call and odd behaviors. Widespread in forest habitat in Central and South America, this medium-sized cuckoo, 40 cm in length, has a rather unusual profile with its small head with a short, pointed crest and thin neck. It is overall brown above, each feather edged in white, and creamy white below with a band of brownish spotting across buffy chest. It has a narrow, whitish postocular stripe and a chestnut-rufous cap. Its tail is long, wide and graduated, the upper tail coverts are greatly elongated, adding fullness and a “bushiness” to the tail. The tail is brown with a white tip on each feather, adding to its elegance. It has a very muscular body, especially in the tail region. Legs are thin and weak. Pheasant Cuckoos inhabit lowland tropical forest, and can be found in dense thickets, secondary growth forest and borders up to 1200 meters. Rarely seen, they are vocal and are often heard. Their call is similar to that of Striped Cuckoo, two clear notes followed by a quavering third note or sequence of two or three quick short notes. They call ventriloquially from branches in the lower and middle levels of the forest, in dense cover, and are often difficult to detect. In Panama, they call most frequently from mid-April to July, during the onset of the wet season. Pheasant Cuckoos also have some other interesting behaviors. Males are territorial, and in response to singing males, they will raise their head and crest, puff out their breast feathers, partially extend their wings and arch their tail coverts. Even more interesting, the Pheasant Cuckoo has a unique, stylized foraging behavior.
Pheasant Cuckoo Dromococcyx phasianellus Photo by Rafael Lau The Pheasant Cuckoo is one of Tropical America’s most intriguing birds, with its long, full, tapering tail, small head, distinct call and odd behaviors. Widespread
Flame-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus Photo by Arthur Morris A velvety-black tanager with a bright lemon-yellow rump, the male Flame-rumped Tanager stands out in a crowd! The female is less conspicuous, grayish-brown above with yellow rump, lower back and underparts. Both have a bluish silvery beak. Flame-rumped Tanagers are found in scrubby areas, clearings, gardens and often near water. They associate in pairs or small groups, usually near the ground. This species was formerly known as the Lemon-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus), and due to its bright yellow rump, this seems to be a more appropriate name for this bird in Panama. However, there are two subspecies of Flame-rumped Tanager—In Panama, subspecies R. f. icteronotus has a yellow rump. Further south in western Colombia, subspecies R. f. flammigerus has a flaming scarlet rump. The two subspecies hybridize where ranges overlap in western Colombia. It is also possible that the Flame-rumped Tanager hybridizes with Passerini’s Tanager in Bocas del Toro. The Flame-rumped Tanager ranges from western Panama to western Ecuador. In Panama, they are found along the entire Caribbean slope lowlands, Canal area and in Darién. They are common around the gardens of the Canopy Lodge and Canopy Camp where they visit the fruit feeders, and can be found locally in Gamboa near the Canopy Tower and Canopy B&B. Female Flame-rumped Tanager, by David Tipling
Flame-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus Photo by Arthur Morris A velvety-black tanager with a bright lemon-yellow rump, the male Flame-rumped Tanager stands out in a crowd! The female is less conspicuous, grayish-brown above with
Green Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius pulchellus Photo by Rafael Lau A denizen of the tropical forest canopies of Central America, the Green Shrike-Vireo is one of the most sought-out species from the observation deck at the Canopy Tower. Its bright green coloration and infrequent movements help it to blend in perfectly with the leafy treetops. it is also very vocal – its whistled three-note “peer-peer-peer” song, similar to the song of the Tufted Titmouse, seemingly saying “can’t-see-me,” reflects well the fact that the Green Shrike-Vireo is much more often heard than seen. But with some patience, we get good views of this fantastic bird at the Canopy Tower. The Green Shrike-Vireo at 14 cm in length is a large member of the vireo family. Affectionately known around the Canopy Tower as a “little parrot,” this canopy dweller is heavy-headed with bright green upperparts, has a distinct bright yellow throat and yellowish-green underparts, and an inconspicuous blue nape. Contrasting with its bright plumage, it has a black eye and heavy black bill, hooked at the tip. Sexes are similar. There are four recognized subspecies of the Green Shrike-Vireo throughout its range, which differ in plumage and vocalizations. Green Shrike-Vireos can be found in the forest canopy of humid evergreen forests and secondary growth woodlands, in the lowlands and foothills to 1000 meters in elevation. They can tolerate a degree of habitat change and degradation. They are usually found singly or in pairs, and occasionally join mixed flocks in the forest mid-story and canopy. Green Shrike-Vireos are insectivorous, feeding on a wide variety of arthropods including caterpillars, and also feed on small fruits and seeds. There is little known about their reproduction and life history. Green Shrike-Vireos range from southeast Mexico to eastern Panama. In Panama, they are found along the Caribbean slope, and
Green Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius pulchellus Photo by Rafael Lau A denizen of the tropical forest canopies of Central America, the Green Shrike-Vireo is one of the most sought-out species from the observation deck at
Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii Photo by Jenn Sinasac The Blue Cotinga is one of the most desired birds to be seen in Panama! Cotingas are a family of highly varied fruit-eating birds restricted to the Neotropics and contain such spectacular and unusual species as the “blue cotingas” group, Three-wattled Bellbird, Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Purple-throated Fruitcrow. The Blue Cotinga is approximately the size of a thrush, 19 cm in length. It is plump and dove-like, with a short bill and tail. The male is brilliant blue with deep purple-black throat and belly patches. The black patch around its eye distinguishes it from other “blue” cotingas in Panama. Its wings and tail are edged with black. The female is brown overall, with buffy edges on the feathers producing a scalloped or scaly appearance. The Blue Cotinga is found in the forest canopy of lowland tropical forest, as well as woodlands and open areas. It lives high in the canopy of the trees, and most often sits exposed, often remaining in one spot for extended periods of time. It is usually solitary, but occasionally feeds in small groups of up to 10 individuals at fruiting trees. Fruit is plucked in flight, and it will hover briefly. Blue Cotingas are generally silent, but males can make a whirring sound with their wings. In Panama, Blue Cotingas are uncommon along the western Caribbean slope and fairly common throughout eastern Panama. They are found in lowlands up to 900 meters (have been recorded up to 1400 meters in Colombia). With a small range from central Panama to northwestern Venezuela and Ecuador, Panama is one of the best places to encounter this fantastic bird. Blue Cotingas can be seen feeding in the fruiting trees around the Canopy Tower, and are most common around Canopy Camp Darien. Female
Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii Photo by Jenn Sinasac The Blue Cotinga is one of the most desired birds to be seen in Panama! Cotingas are a family of highly varied fruit-eating birds restricted
Spectacled Parrotlet Forpus conspicillatus Photo by Cindy Beckman A pint-sized parrot! The tiny Spectacled Parrotlet, about the size of a sparrow at only 12 cm long, is Panama’s smallest psittacine. In addition to its tiny size, the Spectacled Parrotlet is generally a dull green overall; the male has bright yellowish-green forehead, cheeks and throat, with bright cobalt blue on wings and rump and around its eye, giving it its name. The female is dull green overall and lacks the blue around the eyes. They have a short, wedge-shaped tail. Spectacled Parrotlets are highly social and can be found in groups of up to 100 or more individuals! They forage together for small fruits; they can sometimes be seen foraging in grass on the ground, a behavior unique among parrots in Panama. Their call is a high-pitched chittering with intermingled buzzy notes. Due to their small size, they can be difficult to see when perched in treetops; however, they do often perch on exposed branches. Spectacled Parrotlets are found in dry to moist tropical forest habitat, forest edge and open areas from eastern Panama to northern Colombia and extreme western Venezuela. They are uncommon in the lowlands of Darien, and are one of our target birds during a stay at Canopy Camp Darien.
Spectacled Parrotlet Forpus conspicillatus Photo by Cindy Beckman A pint-sized parrot! The tiny Spectacled Parrotlet, about the size of a sparrow at only 12 cm long, is Panama’s smallest psittacine. In addition to