A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Panama's Canopy Camp: Lowland Darien I 2022

December 30, 2022-January 7, 2023 with John Coons & Eliecer Rodriguez guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest highlights of our trip was our expedition to a Harpy Eagle nest where we watched the huge female tending to a two-month-old, all-white chick. It was a tremendous experience to see this huge raptor so well. (Photo by guide John Coons)

We enjoyed a great week of birding in eastern Panama. Warm temperatures were the norm, and we had a couple of light showers that never affected our birding. On our first day after leaving our airport hotel in Panama City, we headed east with a birding stop along Lake Bayano, where we saw an assortment of birds to get us introduced to the tropics. One of our first birds was a Bat Falcon perched on the bridge. Another stop near Torti before lunch added to our growing list. We arrived at the Canopy Camp in the afternoon and spent time enthralled with the array of hummingbirds visiting the feeders and the flowers, including a magnificent male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird. We got settled in to our luxury tents and celebrated John's birthday on New Year's Eve. I don't think any of us made it close to staying up until midnight.

Starting 2023, we spent our first morning in Darien birding the grounds of the Canopy Camp before heading out on the one-kilometer trail. We encountered a lot of new birds and tracked down a few hard-to-see canopy-level species. That afternoon we birded our way to Yaviza, the last point on the Pan-American Highway before the Darien Gap.

The next two days were highlighted by our visits to nests of two of the great raptors of the New World, Crested Eagle and Harpy Eagle. Leaving the Camp right after breakfast, we drove to the El Salto Road and switched to the 4WD vehicles. We birded along the road for a few kilometers before taking a trail into the forest. Just above us were four Brown-throated Three-toed Sloths in one tree. We found a forest flock and scoped a Semiplumbeous Hawk before reaching the nest of a Crested Eagle. The eaglet had left the nest several weeks earlier but Eliecer told us it was still hanging around the site. With hopes of the bird returning, we watched the nest while Eliecer went into the forest with Oscar and Nelson to search for the fledged eagle. We watched a couple of White-headed Wrens high in the trees, and they worked their way to the large nest and began probing among the sticks for food. After 15 minutes Eliecer appeared, saying they had found the fledged Crested Eagle. We followed him into the forest and came upon this fully grown but still mostly white bird perched in a huge tree. I have no idea how they managed to spot this bird that we watched for about 15 minutes before it made a short flight out of view. Walking out, we spotted a Great Potoo well camouflaged on its perch. That afternoon we walked a road at the Yaviza Wetlands where we spotted open country birds and a wave of Fork-tailed Flycatchers.

On the following day, we drove about an hour to the banks of the Rio Tuira, the largest river in Panama, and we birded here for a spell as we waited for the tide to come up so we could board our boat. We traveled upriver and hung a right onto the Rio Marea, where we had to negotiate many partially submerged logs before arriving at the Tutumate camp. From here we birded along a trail through the forest for about 45 minutes before arriving at the Harpy Eagle nest, where we found the huge female eagle perched slightly above the nest, where there was a small, all-white chick. Fantastic! We enjoyed these two for a while and saw other birds moving through the forest before we headed back to the forest camp for lunch. Returning to the boat, we found the tide had really come in, making our return trip much easier for the boatmen and doing it in one-third the time.

The next two days we left the Camp after breakfast, and we spent the first day walking stretches of the El Salto Road in the morning and another open country road in the afternoon. The second day we drove to Peñitas and boarded our dugouts and went up the Rio Chucunaque, the longest river in Panama, and took a tributary to the village of Nuevo Vieja. We birded the river edge along the way, then walked a trail to a couple of lagoons near the village. On our final day of birding, we packed up after breakfast and stopped at a house along the way and had fantastic views of three Great Curassows eating fruit in the yard. This is normally a very difficult bird to see in the forest. We also birded the San Francisco Reserve for a few more specialties before lunch and heading back to Panama City.

As well as the birds mentioned above, we had many more highlights that included nice views of Blue Ground-Dove, Striped Cuckoo, Great and Common potoos, all those hummingbirds, the Agami Heron at the lagoon, Boat-billed Heron, close King Vultures, American Pygmy and Green-and-rufous kingfishers, the Barred Puffbird perched on the powerline, our Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Dusky-backed Jacamar from the boat and a Great Jacamar right overhead, Golden-green Woodpeckers, Spectacled Parrotlets, flying Blue-and-yellow Macaws, the local Black Antshrike, Golden-headed Manakin at the Camp, Blue Cotinga, Speckled Mourner, colorful Red-breasted Meadowlarks, and a scoped view of the very local Black Oropendola, among others.

The Canopy Camp was an exceedingly comfortable place to stay, with delicious meals and a wonderful staff that took great care of us. Our drivers Oscar and Nelson were great spotters, but I can't say enough about Eliecer, who was so great to be with for our time in Panama. I hope to see all of you again for another expedition.


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui)

We heard these calling each morning and evening in the forest at the Camp. At Quebrada Felix, we were watching the ground-doves feeding on the spilled rice in the road when one dashed across the road.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

We saw a group of three flying, then saw about 30 birds on a roadside pond the day we returned to Panam City. There were a good number of babies in this group as well.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

We saw about five individuals flying at the Yaviza Wetlands.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps)

We had a few next to the road on our drive to La Peñitas.


On our final day of birding, we stopped at a house along the Pan-American Highway and saw two males and female coming to fruit in at a house. This is usually a very difficult species to see in the forest.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

We saw several in the open country.

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa)

We saw one perched up in the morning along the El Salto Road.


We saw a fly-by in the Yaviza Wetlands.

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

These were quite common throughout the week.

BLUE GROUND DOVE (Claravis pretiosa)

We had scope views of this forest bird in the Yaviza Wetlands and another one or two feeding at the rice along the Quebrada Felix Road.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major)

Lots of these were seen during the week.

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia)

We had nice looks at one with broken tail feathers along the Quebrada Felix road.

LITTLE CUCKOO (Coccycua minuta)

A single bird flushed and flew past in the Yaviza Wetlands.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Ruby-topaz Hummingbirdis a species that was known from only a couple of records in Panama before the Canopy Camp opened. We had wonderful views on several days as a male fed in the flowers in the clearing. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

It seemed that one or two were seen each day.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

These started calling each evening at the Camp at sunset and we heard them each morning. On our drives back to the Camp we spotted a couple in the road.

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis)

After hearing one at night at the Camp, Eliecer spotted one in the forest along the El Salto Road and we had great scope views of this camouflaged species.

COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus)

The guys found one along the Quebrada Felix Road a week earlier and it was still on the same perch and gave us a great look.

Apodidae (Swifts)

SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura)

We saw a few flying about near Yaviza.

BAND-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura spinicaudus)

We saw a few at La Reversa where we boarded the boat on the Rio Tuira.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

These were frequent visitors to the feeders at the Camp.


We saw one visit a feeder at the Camp and saw another along the El Salto Road.

BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri)

John spotted one near the feeders at the Camp.

PALE-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis anthophilus)

This local specialty showed a handful of times, most often at the camp.

STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) [*]

We heard a few in the forest on their lek as we walked to the Harpy nest.

RUBY-TOPAZ HUMMINGBIRD (Chrysolampis mosquitus)

It was fantastic to see this quite uncommon but beautifully colored male hummingbird at the flowers at the Camp. We saw it few times a day for the first four days but mostly didn't put time in at the feeders later in the week.

BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

We saw these daily at the Camp as well as at the restaurant at Torti.

LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris)

Another quite fancy humming bird; we saw one at the feeders a few times during the week.


This was another regular vistitor to the feeders.


Most of our sightings were at the feeders at the lunch restaurant in Torti.


Again, we just saw this species at the Torti restaurant feeders.


This is quite a widespread species in Panama.

SAPPHIRE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Chrysuronia coeruleogularis)

This species with the bright blue throat was frequently seen at the feeders at the Camp.


Field Guides Birding Tours
Another specialty of the Darien area, Gray-cheeked Nunlet is a rather inconspicuous small puffbird of the forest, but once you find one it usually stays put. (Photo by guide John Coons)


Not as common as Sapphire-throated but we saw males a few times at the feeders.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) [*]

One called pre-dawn at the Camp.

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

A few were seen in the Yaviza Wetlands.

WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis)

We heard a handful at the Yaviza Wetlands but couldn't get a view.

GRAY-BREASTED CRAKE (Laterallus exilis)

This very difficult to see rail vocalized a few times in the Yaviza Wetlands but was never close to us.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

We saw one on our first morning in the field at Lake Bayano.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

Good numbers were seen on a few days in the open country.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana)

A few were at one of the ponds at the Yaviza Wetlands then we saw it again at the roadside pond on our way back to the city on our last day.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

We saw a few on the banks of the Rio Tuira where these birds were wintering.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

There were several seen along the banks of the larger rivers.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

We encountered a fair number of these as we motored along some of the rivers.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


A single bird passed over while we were walking the trail near Nuevo Vieja.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga anhinga)

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

We saw a handful along the rivers and at Lake Bayano but not a lot.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

We flushed one from the shore at Lake Bayano.

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

A few were seen along the larger bodies of water.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Only a few were encountered.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

These were quite obvious along the river banks.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

At least a couple were seen along the Rio Tuira.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Mixed-species flocks in the forest are always a treat, and we encountered a handful that kept us busy along the trails during our week of birding in Darien. (Photo by guide John Coons)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

We scoped one at the Yaviza Wetlands and saw another one or two.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

AGAMI HERON (Agamia agami)

At the forested pond near Nuevo Vieja, Eliecer spotted an immature deep in the trees that flushed a couple of times before he, remarkably, refound it. Then a bit later we found a more colorful adult at the other end of the pond that we got in the scope. This is always a tough one and took some amazing spotting from Eliecer to find it.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

We saw about eight individuals along the Rio Tuira.

BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius)

One was found at the forested lagoon at Nueva Vieja.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa)

Near the Camp we had great close views of a few at the "feeder" before we saw a few soaring over the forest later.

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Lots of these were seen daily.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Seen daily but in fewer numbers than the above.

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

We had nice looks at a couple of low-flying individuals at the Yaviza Wetlands.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

A few were seen at Lake Bayano on our first morning.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

CRESTED EAGLE (Morphnus guianensis)

We had a fantastic experience with this rarely seen species. We walked a trail into a nest site where the young bird had fledged several weeks earlier but still was "hanging around" the area. We watched the nest while Eliecer, Oscar, and Nelson went into the forest and, amazingly, found this large raptor perched in a large tree a couple of hundred meters away. We watched it with bins and scopes for a good while, a very special treat.

HARPY EAGLE (Harpia harpyja)

We had incredible views of this iconic raptor, the national bird of Panama. We took a boat on the Rio Tuira to a tributary and barely got over the submerged logs to get to Tutumate. From here we walked about 40 minutes to a nest where we watched the huge female Harpy Eagle tending to a two month old chick. The bird called on occasion as did the chick, which gave soft peeps. All this was a fantastic experience. Yip! Yip! Yip!

BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus)

We had pretty good views of a calling bird soaring above the Camp.

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

Our only sighting was a soaring bird near Yaviza.

CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens)

We had pretty good views of this long-legged raptor along the trail at Nuevo Vieja.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus bangsi)

We saw a few, with our first at Lake Bayano on our opening morning.

SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)

A handful were seen during the week in open habitats.

GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga)

A young bird was in the Camp where it was hanging out on the ground with a swarm of ants. We never figured out what all was going on.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had great close views of a handful of King Vultures adjacent to the Canopy Camp. (Photo by guide John Coons)

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

We saw these just about daily, mostly along the Pan-American Highway.

SEMIPLUMBEOUS HAWK (Leucopternis semiplumbeus)

Oscar and Eliecer spotted a calling bird in the forest off the El Salto Road.

GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus)

A few were seen, with our first along the Rio Torti on our first morning.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

A couple of these wintering birds were encountered.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

One seen at Lake Bayano.

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

Dan spotted our first at Lake Bayano then we had another the following day.

Strigidae (Owls)

CRESTED OWL (Lophostrix cristata) [*]

We heard this species every night at the Camp but it would not venture closer.

SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) [*]

I heard one call in the middle of the night on our second night at the Camp.

CENTRAL AMERICAN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium griseiceps rarum) [*]

Again, one called a few times on our second night but it would not respond as we looked for it over the following days.

MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) [*]

One was calling consistently on some of the nights near the further tents but it would not respond whenever we tried to see it.

BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) [*]

The same story here, a calling individual would not respond.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

BLACK-TAILED TROGON (Trogon melanurus)

This was the most commonly seen of our trogons.

WHITE-TAILED TROGON (Trogon chionurus)

We had a couple of these along Nando's Trail at the Camp.

GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus)

We saw one near the dining room at the Camp before heading out in the vehicle.


On our final day we caught up with this species, getting good views at San Francisco Reserve.

Momotidae (Motmots)

WHOOPING MOTMOT (Momotus subrufescens)

Our best views were through the scope at the Camp on our first morning there.

BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron platyrhynchum)

This species likes a bit higher elevation than most of the areas we birded on the trip. We caught up with it when we went up the road at San Francisco Reserve where it perched well for us.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

A few were seen along the bigger rivers.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

Our only one was along the Rio Turquesa.


We had nice views of a male at the lagoon near Nuevo Vieja that we first spotted across the water but it ended up perching on a log on our side as well.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Green-and-rufous Kingfisher is the the least commonly seen of the six species of this family in the New World. We had nice looks at this one perched over the lagoon near Nuevo Vieja. (Photo by guide John Coons)

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) [*]

We heard one calling along the stream at San Francisco Reserve.


The least commonly seen of the six species of New World kingfishers. We had a scope view of one at the lagoon near Nuevo Vieja.

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus)

We saw a few along the El Salto Road.

PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus)

This small puffbird ended up being seen well after we heard it calling in the forest.

BARRED PUFFBIRD (Nystalus radiatus)

We had good views of this cooperative species at Quebrada Felix.

GRAY-CHEEKED NUNLET (Nonnula frontalis stulta)

Our first one at the Camp was quite close to us. This is a very small puffbird and one of the Darien specialties.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

DUSKY-BACKED JACAMAR (Brachygalba salmoni)

It took quite a bit of looking but we finally connected with this Darien specialty as we spotted it from the dugouts along the narrow tributary of the Rio Turquesa.

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

Eliecer spotted one of the couple we saw at the lagoon near Nuevo Vieja.

GREAT JACAMAR (Jacamerops aureus)

We had great looks at this wonderful bird along the trail to the Harpy Eagle. It was perched right over the trail and was there again when we returned a while later.

Capitonidae (New World Barbets)

SPOT-CROWNED BARBET (Capito maculicoronatus rubrilateralis)

We saw our first ones in Camp.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus)

A fairly common bird.

YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii)

Many of these were calling around the Camp and most other forested areas we visited. We had a few nice looks.

KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

This species was outnumbered by the above but we still had a few sightings.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus)

A tiny woodpecker; we had a couple along the side roads.

BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani)

We heard more than we saw, but we had a few nice looks including one at a nest hole at Quebrada Felix.

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus)

RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Dryobates kirkii)

We saw this small woodpecker and area specialty right at the Camp. There were three of them there the first morning.

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

We saw one along the El Salto Road.

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

We saw a few, with a couple of them at nests.

CINNAMON WOODPECKER (Celeus loricatus)

A quite nice looking woodpecker; we had a good look at Camp during our first morning. Then we heard them most days after that.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A great bird that is seen much less frequently than Harpy Eagle, this juvenile Crested Eagle gave us great looks a couple of hundred meters from its nest site in the forest. I still don’t know how the guys went off trail and found this bird perched. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

GOLDEN-GREEN WOODPECKER (Piculus chrysochloros)

Another specialty of eastern Panama; we ended up seeing three individuals along the El Salto Road.

SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula)

A couple of birds showed well at the Yaviza Wetlands. This species is only found in a few localities in eastern Panama.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus)

On our second visit to the El Salto Road we saw one perched up along the edge of the road while we were walking. Just as we got the scopes on this great bird it flew off into the forest.

RED-THROATED CARACARA (Ibycter americanus)

These were seen well at the Camp and they were quite noisy.

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

We only saw a few of these widespread birds.

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)

This species was seen daily, often hunting for road kills along the Pan-American Highway.

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

We had a couple of nice views of this falcon and we heard a few more.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

This was one of first birds we spotted at our first birding stop at Lake Bayano where it was perched on the bridge.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis)

These were seen several times with our first coming to the fruit at our lunch stop in Torti.

BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis)

We never got these perched. They were always flying over.

BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus)

A commonly encountered species with our first ones along the Rio Torti.

RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis)

These were also seen in numbers, and they were frequent visitors to the fruit feeder at the Canopy Camp.

YELLOW-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona ochrocephala)

There was one perched in a tree in Panama City as we loaded the luggage to head out the first morning.

MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa)

Only a few were seen.

SPECTACLED PARROTLET (Forpus conspicillatus)

Eliecer alerted us to two individuals feeding in a small tree in Nuevo Vieja. This is a hard to find species with a very limited range in Panama.


We saw a pair, and a group of three birds flew over us at Tutumate just off the Rio Marea.


We heard a few but only saw a single bird flying at Quebrada Felix.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) [*]

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

We had good looks at a male at Lake Bayano.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Lineated Woodpecker is a widespread bird in the American tropics, and we recorded several during our travels including one in a nest hole. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

BLACK-CROWNED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus atrinucha)

We heard a lot of these in the forest and saw one along the trail to the Crested Eagle site.

BLACK ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus nigriceps)

A pair of these Darien specialties were at the Camp on our first morning. The female is quite a bit more colorful than the male.

MOUSTACHED ANTWREN (Myrmotherula ignota) [*]

We could never lure one into view.

PACIFIC ANTWREN (Myrmotherula pacifica)

Our only sighting was when we were waiting for the boat at La Reversa.

WHITE-FLANKED ANTWREN (Myrmotherula axillaris)

We saw a few amongst mixed flocks in the forest.

RUSTY-WINGED ANTWREN (Herpsilochmus frater)

After seeing one along the El Salto Road we had good views at San Francisco Reserve on our final morning. This was formerly known as Rufous-winged Antwren.

DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis)

We had one in a flock at San Francisco Reserva.

DUSKY ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides tyrannina)

A calling bird popped up for a few looks along the El Salto Road.

JET ANTBIRD (Cercomacra nigricans)

It took some looking but we eventually got looks at this skulker near Lake Bayano.

BARE-CROWNED ANTBIRD (Gymnocichla nudiceps)

Always a tough one to see well. We saw a calling pair moving along the road edge and flying across the El Salto Road.

WHITE-BELLIED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza longipes)

We heard many more than we saw.


We ended up with pretty good views of this quite dark, mostly ground dwelling forest bird along the El Salto Road.

BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor)

A flock of antswarm following birds moved through the forest while we were at the Harpy Eagle nest and a couple of Bicolored Antbirds were in tow.

SPOTTED ANTBIRD (Hylophylax naevioides) [*]

Formicariidae (Antthrushes)

BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) [*]

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa)

We had close views of one along the trail to the Crested Eagle nest.

NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae)

This large woodcreeper showed quite well with the other antswarm birds near the Harpy Eagle nest.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

We saw a handful and heard this widespread species daily.

BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus)

A rather fancy looking woodcreeper; we saw it near the Crested Eagle site.

RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris)

Driving to La Peñitas, Eliecer heard one calling and we ended up working on it for a spell before getting nice looks at this great looking bird.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Spectacled Parrotlet is one of the more difficult specialties of the Darien area to find, but we had great looks at a pair that Eliecer spotted in a fruiting tree right in the village of Nuevo Vieja. (Photo by guide John Coons)

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)

These were fairly common in the open country and right in the Camp as well.

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

A single bird was with a mixed-flock along the El Salto Road.

DOUBLE-BANDED GRAYTAIL (Xenerpestes minlosi)

One of the real specialties of Darien; we had nice looks at this unusual species along the El Salto Road.

Pipridae (Manakins)

GOLDEN-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus vitellinus)

We had good views of males at the lek along the trail at the Camp. We heard and encountered a couple more during the week.

RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis)

A greenish-gray female put in an appearance at San Francisco Reserve.

GOLDEN-HEADED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra erythrocephala)

This gorgeous little guy was seen a few times plucking the small berries off the shrub right next to the dining area at the Camp.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)


We saw a few of this unusual species, including males in the scope.

BLUE COTINGA (Cotinga nattererii)

Our first was a female in the Camp then we had a couple of stunning males along the El Salto Road.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor)

Our only one was near Yaviza.

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

We saw a few of these.

RUSSET-WINGED SCHIFFORNIS (Schiffornis stenorhyncha panamensis)

A responsive bird came in a couple of times along Nando's Trail at the Camp. This species has had a lot of names and bounced around in different families before settling with the tityras.

SPECKLED MOURNER (Laniocera rufescens)

We had great views of this uncommon bird as we were hiking back from the Harpy Eagle nest site.

CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)

We saw a few during the week, often with a mixed-flock.

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus)

A couple of birds showed along the El Salto Road.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)

ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus)

This seemingly fancy bird showed well at San Francisco Reserve but it never wants to raise its crest.

RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus)

We saw a couple of these in mixed-flocks in the forest.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

SOUTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma olivaceum)

An unusual looking bill on this small flycatcher makes it distinct with mixed-flocks in the forest.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

We saw a handful of these handsome little flycatchers.

BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps)

A calling bird overhead at the Camp led us around a bit before we got great looks including scope views.

OLIVACEOUS FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus olivaceus)

We saw one on Nando's Trail behind the Canopy Camp.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of our last “new" birds of the trip, this Broad-billed Motmot posed well for us in the forest at San Francisco Reserve. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (YELLOW-OLIVE) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens flavoolivaceus)

OCHRE-LORED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias flaviventris)

Known as Yellow-breasted Flycatcher until very recently; we saw a few of these. This, mostly South American species, has a quite limited range in Panama.

BROWN-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Ornithion brunneicapillus)

We heard several of these in the forest canopy but had a nice view of one right at the Camp that came down to get a better look at us.

YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola)

We saw one along the roadside near the Rio Torti before we headed in for lunch.

YELLOW-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Tyrannulus elatus) [*]

FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii)

We saw a few and heard many more around during our wanderings.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

This is a fairly common second growth species.

SOOTY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseiceps)

Another eastern Panama specialty, we had pretty good views during our morning birding at the Camp.

TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) [*]

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)

We saw a couple of these wintering birds and heard several more in the forest.

WILLOW FLYCATCHER (Empidonax traillii)

We had nice views of a wintering individual that was singing at the Yaviza Marsh.

PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica)

One was seen by some from a dugout along the Rio Turquesa.

LONG-TAILED TYRANT (Colonia colonus)

A quite nice looking flycatcher; we saw a couple of pairs a couple of times.

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus)

We enjoyed good views of this large flycatcher right in the Camp clearing on our first morning.

RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra)

We had good views of one along the trail on the way to the Harpy Eagle nest.

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)


I was surprised how often we heard and saw this well-known US breeder. They seemed to have had a good year up north.

LESSER KISKADEE (Pitangus lictor)

Always found near water; we saw a few along the river edges on the way to Nuevo Vieja.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Several seen.

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

Our first were along the Rio Torti.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the prettier trogons with its combination of yellow, green, and black is this Black-throated Trogon, which afforded us a nice study down the slope at San Francisco Reserve. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

This species was quite common throughout.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

Generally Social and Rusty-margined flycatchers don't overlap in range much, but they do in several areas of Panama. However, we only recorded this bird once, on our first morning.

GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis)

We had good views of a rather local species in Panama.

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

This species, an Austral migrant, had just returned from the south. They were a frequent voice around the Camp.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)


We estimated at least 35 individuals at Yaviza Marsh.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes)

Nice looks on our first morning at Lake Bayano.

LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata)

We saw a couple with mixed-flocks in the forest.

GOLDEN-FRONTED GREENLET (Pachysylvia aurantiifrons)

We saw one at the edge of Lake Bayano on our first morning.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis)

This handsome jay showed well along the Pan-American Highway near Yaviza.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

We saw a fair number during the week.

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

This was the most encountered swallow we saw in Darien.

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea)

A handful were seen flying about the rivers while we were boating.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus)

We had views of this odd-looking bird while waiting for our boat at La Reversa.

WHITE-BROWED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila bilineata)

A few were seen here and there. This is a recent split from Tropical Gnatcatcher.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

These were at our first stop at Lake Bayano and were also seen and heard around the Camp.

WHITE-HEADED WREN (Campylorhynchus albobrunneus harterti)

This large wren showed well near the little church along the Pan-American Highway then we saw them at the Camp and then again foraging amongst the branches of the Crested Eagle nest.

BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris)

It took some looking but we finally saw this skulker along the El Salto Road.

ISTHMIAN WREN (Cantorchilus elutus)

One showed well for us at Lake Bayano. This species was formerly known and split from the Plain Wren.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Gray-capped Flycatcher is a rather uncommon bird in Panama, but it is most readily seen here in Darien. (Photo by guide John Coons)

BAY WREN (CENTRAL AMERICAN) (Cantorchilus nigricapillus schottii)

At San Francisco Reserve we had nice views of one that got up higher into a thicket. The form we saw with the barred underparts is only found in Panama in Darien province.

BUFF-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus leucotis)

Another wren that we saw at Lake Bayano on our first morning. We heard a lot more of them singing throughout the week in the cut-over areas.

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta)

We had one show a little on the side track off of the El Salto Road but it ended up receding into the forest.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


We saw our only one in Yaviza. This species has been introduced to Panama and is common in the Canal area but it occurs naturally in Colombia making me wonder if those seen in eastern Panama (Darien) are natural immigrants and not introduced.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)


There were only a few seen.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla)

We ended up with good views, mostly of females along the El Salto Road.

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

We saw a couple along the road edges at Quebrada Felix.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)


A few, about eight, were seen in the rice field at the end of the Quebrada Felix Road.

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

We saw several and watched a few in display here and there.


A quite common species here, they were tending to their hanging nests right in the Camp.

BLACK OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius guatimozinus)

We gave this species a good search along the Pan-American Highway near Yaviza without luck before we finally tracked down a couple of calling birds near Nuevo Vieja. This is one of the Darien specialties with a quite limited range. We had good views through the scope near the lagoon.


ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus chrysater)

We only had one individual.

ORANGE-CROWNED ORIOLE (Icterus auricapillus) [*]

YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE (Icterus mesomelas)

One was heard then seen along the El Salto Road.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

Jeff saw a lot of these in the trees at the Riande Hotel.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

We saw a few flocks in the open country.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Of the eleven species of hummingbirds that visited the feeders at the Camp, Sapphire-throated Hummingbirds were one of the regulars. (Photo by participant John Rounds)

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

We saw a handful in the Yaviza area.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris)

This species has only recently invaded Panama from Colombia and has spread across the Canal Zone. We never got a great view but we saw a few flying here and there.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

One was around the Camp and we heard and saw a few along the rivers we traversed.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)

One popped up along the Rio Torti on our first day of birding.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

This was also seen near the Rio Torti.

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)

One popped up briefly along the roadside while we birded along the Quebrada Felix road.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)

This was the most common wintering warbler we encountered in the forest.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

We saw several of these wintering birds during the course of the week.

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda)

On our final day of birding, we heard then saw this denizen of tropical streams hopping about the rocks in the creek at San Francisco Reserve.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

We saw several with a couple coming to the fruit feeders at the Camp.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

John got a photo that he sent me after our trip of one that he saw in the Yaviza Wetlands area.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata)

After our first with the mixed-flock near the Harpy Eagle site, we had better views along the El Salto Road.


The forest flocks usually had a pair of these.

FLAME-RUMPED TANAGER (Ramphocelus flammigerus)

Jeff saw one in the second growth habitat as we were walking back to Nuevo Vieja.

CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)

This species is found at edge habitats in a lot of Panama and that's where we saw them.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

A familiar tropical species.

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

Always seen close to Blue-gray Tanagers.

GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata)

A fancy look tanager; we had a few good views with a couple right in the Camp.

PLAIN-COLORED TANAGER (Tangara inornata)

We saw several of these small tanagers with our first at Lake Bayano showing the blue patch in the wing that is often hidden.

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)

We saw our first at La Reversa while we were waiting for the tide to rise so we could board our boat.


We had a scope view at La Reversa.

WHITE-EARED CONEBILL (Conirostrum leucogenys)

After our first in the Camp, we had great looks at a few individuals from the bridge over the Rio Mono on our final day of birding. This is another species that is mostly limited in range to Darien province.

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)

These were most obvious in the open pastures at the Yaviza Wetlands where we saw them in their display, jumping about a foot into the air from a perch while giving the buzzy call.


Lisa spotted a bright male near the following species along the road at Quebrada Felix.

THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea)

One sat up for a nice view along the roadside at Quebrada Felix.

VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina)

There were daily sightings of this widespread seedeater.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)



We saw one the first morning at Lake Bayano.

OLIVE-GRAY SALTATOR (Saltator olivascens)

This species, formerly known as Grayish Saltator, is a recent arrival from Colombia and is seen in a few places in Darien. We had scope views of one on top of the thicket while we birded the Yaviza Wetlands. The old Gray Saltator was previously known from western Panama but that species is now called Cinnamon-belled Saltator.


RED-NAPED TAMARIN (Saguinus geoffroyi)

These entertaining and rather colorful primates were frequent visitors to the feeders at the Camp.

MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata)

We saw several during our week, with our first in the tall tree at Lake Bayano. We certainly heard them daily.


A fair number were seen around the Camp.

HOFFMANN'S TWO-TOED SLOTH (Choloepus hoffmanni)

We saw about three during the week. This is the larger of the two sloth species occuring here.


Eliecer is remarkable at spotting sloths in trees. On our hike in to see the Crested Eagle he spotted one then... there were four curled up in one tree. We had a few others here and there.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

A few were seen near Camp and we had a few more in the forest.

WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica)

A few were hanging around Camp and hitting the feeders.

TAYRA (Eira barbara)

I think one was seen by one of the vehicles along the El Salto Road but I didn't get the details.


Additional creatures of interest:

Green-and-black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus) -- This was the gorgeous small frog we saw on the forest floor on the way to the Harpy Eagle nest.

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) -- We saw a few along the rivers we traversed.

American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) -- John and I saw one at the lagoon near Nuevo Vieja.

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) -- A few here and there in trees.

Panamanian Red-rumped Tarantula (Sericopelma rubronitens) -- This appears to be the very large tarantula we saw long the trail to the Harpy Eagle nest.

Totals for the tour: 267 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa