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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Panama’s Canopy Tower: Bird Life

March 26th, 2011 · No Comments

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During our stay at Canopy Tower, we drove and walked all over Soberanía National Park looking for birds. But the forest canopy around the tower was especially rewarding, especially at the beginning and end of each day. At sunrise one morning I was at the tower when this cacique flew in.

A Scarlet-rumped Cacique

A Scarlet-rumped Cacique

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Then, the bird that I most wanted to see in Panama flew close to the tower. This gaudy bird has a big bill because it eats fruit.

A Keel-billed Toucan

A Keel-billed Toucan

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Right away, another beautiful bird came by. Just renamed the Gartered Trogon from Violaceous Trogon, this is another of Panama’s most colorful birds.

A Gartered Trogon

A Gartered Trogon

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As we walked down Semaphore Hill, the road to and from the tower, deep in the forest we saw another trogon species. The word “trogon” is Greek for “nibbling” and refers to the holes in trees that these birds gnaw to make their nests.

A Slaty-tailed Trogon

A Slaty-tailed Trogon

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After our siesta one day, we went to the Ammo Dump Ponds. We saw lots of birds, including this tiger-heron.

A Rufescent Tiger-Heron

A Rufescent Tiger-Heron

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The next day, March 12, we visited the start of Pipeline Road. Among all the birds that we saw there I most enjoyed this one.

A Purple-throated Fruitcrow

A Purple-throated Fruitcrow

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And we saw another bird in the colorful trogon species.

A Female Black-tailed Trogon

A Female Black-tailed Trogon

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A Female Masked Tityra

A Female Masked Tityra

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Just before the sun set in the rainforest, we were driving up Semaphore Hill to return to Canopy Tower. A Collared Forest-Falcon that was along the road flew up into a tree close to us. It was already quite dark so I had to boost the ISO to 6400, but it worked. “This was the most spectacular bird of the day,” Eric says, “as it is quite hard to actually see this sneaky species on most trips.”

A Collared Forest-Falcon

A Collared Forest-Falcon

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This little honeycreeper was impossible to miss when it came very close to the tower and sat out in the open early in the morning of March 13. Its emerald green color could not be more brilliant.

A Male Green Honeycreeper

A Male Green Honeycreeper

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That afternoon we went to the Gamboa Resort where nearby we found a pair of beautiful birds.

Two Southern Lapwings

Two Southern Lapwings

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March 14 was “the day of the trogon,” Eric said. As we hiked the Pipeline Road we saw three trogon species; here is the one that I hadn’t included above.

A Male White-Tailed Trogon

A Male White-Tailed Trogon

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Since we made an especially long outing that day — from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — the tower staff packed a picnic lunch for us. They had been excellent in preparing my “special diet,” which is low-starch and low-sugar. But I had no expectations that they would remember it for the picnic and would provide only the usual sandwiches. So I took along my regular trail mix of raw almonds, just in case. In the event, they made a delicious lunch of fish and veggies for me.

As we were eating lunch we got another surprise. The author of our excellent new field guide, The Birds of Panama, George Angehr, came by. We chatted with him, and several of us got him to autograph their books. As I am a nosy journalist, I asked him, who I knew from his book to be an American, what he was doing there.

“I have lived in Panama for the past 20 years,” he responded. While I didn’t follow up to ask him where in Panama he lives, more and more Americans are settling in Boquete. Because of its altitude, almost 4,000 feet above sea level, its climate is refreshingly cooler than that of the lowlands. Boquete is about 35 miles from the border Costa Rica. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it popular. It’s on my to-do list.

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