Tag Archives: canopy tower

Trogon Love

Violeceous Trogon

Will ya look at that bad boy.  Total fave.  There is something about the Violaceous Trogon that I just love.  Maybe it’s all that yellow. I didn’t go to Panama with any target birds in mind.  But once I got an eye-full of this guy, I wanted to see more and more Trogons.  When I spotted him, he had a giant caterpillar in his beak and was thrashing it for all he was worth until the outside skin slipped off and he swallowed what was left.  gulp.  It was really gross.  I have pictures, trust me,  yucky.

slaty-tailed trogon

She is a Slaty-tailed Trogon and much bigger than the Violaceous.  Slaties are in the 12-13 inch range, while the Violaceous is only about 9 1/2.  Notice the dark undertail.  Lovely, but not a fave.  The red/orange eye ring makes her look like she has been up all night.

Black-throated Trogon

This is a Black-throated Trogon.  Blue eye-ring, yellow front, cute perky yellow bill, about the same size as the Violaceous.

I saw all of these on trips from the Canopy Tower.  Need the Orange-bellied? Then go on a Mesa trip from the Canopy Lodge.

I have seen Collared Trogons and of course, the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica and a Surucua Trogon in Brazil.  Violaceous wins hands down for me.  Which ones have you seen?  What is your fave?


Filed under Travel

Butterflies of Panama

One of the first things (well aside from the birds) that you will notice in Panama is the incredible array of Butterflies.  In the heat of the day (and I am talking serious heat and humidity at the Tower) during the siesta break, I wandered around sampling the butterflies as they sampled the nectar.  I would like to show you a few of them.  Most of them I do not know the names of, but they are all fabulous.

banded peacock
Banded Peacock


Dimorphic Skipper

Frosted Flasher

This one is a skipper and maybe a FrostedFlasher

scary caterpiller

Domi and I found this wicked looking caterpillar on a bridge railing at the start of Plantation Road. I wouldn’t touch it if you paid me.




Orange-washed Sister


Either Ziba Scrub-Hairstreak or Confusing Scrub-Hairstreak

All of these were taken at the Canopy Tower. But let me leave you with the Blue Morpho that floats everywhere at the Lodge. I loved that they came to the feeders to eat the bananas. They rest with their wings closed. It was impossible for me to take a good shot of one flying. They are the most beautiful blue.

blue morpho eating banana

Special thanks to Kim Garwood for helping ID the butterflies and to Patrick Belardo for suggesting her website.


Filed under Travel

Bird Photography Weekly

juvie Tiger Heron

We climbed onto the open-air truck with more than a few nervous glances at the dark threatening sky. The day before it had clabbered up and even rained a few drops, but then cleared. We were hoping for a repeat of that. Just as we crossed the Chagres River (where I saw a Gray-necked Woodrail walking on the waterlillies) it started to drizzle. By the time we arrived at the ponds it was a warm steady rain.  I popped open my mini-umbrella to protect the camera.  We ambled across the street blinking the rain from our eyes and peering up into the trees. 

The juvenile Rufescent Tiger Heron that I had seen a few days earlier begging for food (and being ignored by its mama) was standing at the edge of the pond.  As we stepped onto the grass under the canopy a huge swarm of mosquitos decended like a biblical plague of locusts.   We beat a hasty retreat and I passed around the DEET spray  (I alway carry it around.  Bugs seem to like me.)  Once we were chemically protected we turned again to birding. 

By this time the Tiger Heron was picking its way along the patch of grass next to the road.  The light was gray and flat, and I had to use flash, but you can see how beautiful it was strutting amidst the diamond drops.


Filed under Uncategorized

Birding from the top of the Canopy Tower

Sunrise from the roof of the Canopy Tower

With a view of the Panama Canal and the surrounding  forest canopy, the Canopy Tower is an incredible place to stand in the early morning light.  I climbed the narrow steps to pop my head above the hatch to see the vista open before me.  As I walked in wonder around the roof, a flicker of movement caught my eye in a cecropia tree.  There, facing east, as if waiting for the sun’s rays to dazzle the eye, were 2 Golden-hooded Tanagers.  Nice. 

Golden-hooded Tanagers

I continued my walk around the huge yellow dome with a jig in my step.   

Roof of Canopy Tower

Both Turkey and Black Vultures were swirling around at eye level.  Three Red-lored Parrots landed in a clump of leaves and disappeared.  A Keel-billed Toucan clacked in a tree across the way. 


Each direction had new trees to scan.  I made the turn on my route around the dome when a flash of blue zipped into a cecropia tree.  I stared in disbelief.  My first lifer in Panama was not a little nondescript something, something, but…Holy Crap… a Blue Continga.

blue continga

I’ll tell you more about all of this tomorrow. Right now the rain is letting up and there are birds to see.


Filed under Uncategorized

Feeling Lazy in Panama

I had just been saying I wanted to see a sloth, (I really wasn’t whining, really) when the guide pointed up and said, “There’s one.” Now, of course, I find out that they are pretty common. There are both 2 and 3-toed Sloths here. The larger 2-toed sloth eats the tender young leaves

Two-toed Sloth

while the 3-toed eats the older ones.

3-toed sloth

I am full of lunch and like the slow-moving Sloth, not too motivated. So it’s time for siesta.  I’m going out again on a bird tour at 3.  

sleeping sloth

The line mark down this guy’s back means he is male, or so I have been told.


Filed under Uncategorized

Bird Photography Weekly

BB Motmot

Sitting sliently in a tree overhead, a Broad-billed Motmot nearly blended in with the environment around it. But for the quick eyes of Domi, my guide, I would never have seen it. This is smaller than the Rufous Motmot with more extensive green on the underparts. I had only heard one on the Costa Rican trip so I was super glad to see it.


Filed under Uncategorized

Birding in Panama – part 1

yellow-tailed oriole

I arrived at the Canopy Tower at 2:15 to find out my first bird tour was at 3.  I quick, quick, changed clothes and met Domi, one of the guides,  in the parking lot.  We headed out to the Pipeline Road. We were no sooner out of the car before we saw a mixed flock picking through the trees.  Domi sang out “Crimson-backed Tanager” and I got my first awe-struck look at an incredible bird.  The day only got better.  I am blessed with being the only birder at the lodge so I had a personal guide.  Let me leave you with the list of what I saw today.  I’ll blog more tomorrow. I am too pooped to even type straight.  Remember I’ve been up since 2:30 am.

Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Purple Gallinule, Southern Lapwing, Wattled Jacana, Pale-vented Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Red-lored Amazon, Smooth-billed Ani, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Keel-billed Toucan, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Plain Xenops, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Fasciated Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Paltry Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cinnamon Becard, Scrub Greenlet, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Gray-breasted Martin, Mangrove Swallow, Barn Swallow, Plain Wren, House Wren, Clay-colored Robin, Tropical Mockingbird, White-shouldered Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager, Blue-back Grassquit, Variable Seedeater, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Buff-throated Saltator, Great-tailed Grackle, Yellow-tailed Oriole.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Panama Bound

howler monkeys

I am off to the land of Motmots, Flowerpiercers, Tinamous and Howler Monkeys.   I will be at the Canopy Tower in Panama for 4 nights and the Lodge for 3.  Can I hear a W00T?  I’m super excited. I am dragging my creaky old laptop with me, so I certainly hope I can get online from there and maybe do a post or 2.  Although… I may be so busy ogling Trogons that do not have a spare minute to blog.  We’ll see.


Filed under Travel