Fall at Panama's Canopy Tower Oct 14—21, 2017

Posted by Barry Zimmer


Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in North and Central America, but his travels have taken him throughout much of the wo...

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Every trip to the Canopy Tower is filled with special moments, so much so that it is hard to settle on the most memorable. Seeing a stunning Black-and-white Owl no more than six feet out the dining room window during our checklist session was certainly unforgettable! But was it better than the close scope views of an egg-shaped Streak-chested Antpitta singing its mournful song from a buttress root on the forest floor? Perhaps the river of raptors over Metropolitan Park stands out above all others. A total of over 17,000 individual raptors (Broad-winged Hawks being the most common) were tallied by hawk counters at nearby Ancon Hill that morning. Ant swarms are always memorable, and we spent some time watching one along Pipeline Road. Antbirds, woodcreepers, tanagers, ant-tanagers, and a motmot all fed unconcernedly at the leading edge of the swarm, not bothered at all by our presence. In the foothills of Cerro Azul and Cerro Jefe, we marveled at tanagers of seemingly every color of the rainbow. A male Black-and-yellow Tanager was indescribably brilliant in the elfin forest. A nearby private residence hosted a pair of rare Rufous-winged Tanagers clad in emerald, rusty-red, yellow, and blue. Numerous Bay-headed Tanagers were equally stunning, and uncommon Emerald and Speckled tanagers added to the kaleidoscopic array. For the day on Cerro Azul, we tallied an impressive 17 species of tanagers and allies. Perhaps the greatest memory of all was not even a bird but a rarely seen Rothschild’s Porcupine from no more than ten feet away at Metropolitan Park. These are just some of the incredible memories from this tour, but each location we visited had myriad highlights.

Streak-chested Antpitta

Streak-chested Antpitta— Photo: Barry Zimmer


From the observation deck of the Canopy Tower we saw Crane and Semiplumbeous hawks, Squirrel Cuckoo, Purple-crowned Fairy, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Black-breasted Puffbird, Broad-billed Motmot, Brown-hooded Parrot, countless Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Aracari, Blue Cotinga, Green Shrike-Vireo, Masked Tityra, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Fulvous-vented Euphonia and more. Mammals were also well-represented with adorable Geoffroy’s Tamarins, Mantled Howler Monkeys, White-nosed Coatis, Central American Woolly Opossum, and both species of sloths all seen up-close. Feeders in nearby Gamboa swarmed with the likes of Orange-chinned Parakeet (50 in view at once!), Red-crowned Woodpecker, Whooping Motmot, Green and Red-legged honeycreepers, and Golden-hooded, Crimson-backed, Blue-gray, Palm, and Plain-colored tanagers. On world-famous Pipeline Road, we tallied 13 species of antbirds, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Toucan, four species of trogons, Rufous Motmot, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Golden-crowned Spadebill, and duetting Song Wrens among others.

Read Barry’s full report in his Field List.