Panama: Christmas at El Valle Pre-trip Dec 23—27, 2005

Posted by Tony Nunnery


Tony Nunnery

Tony Nunnery grew up in Mississippi, then moved to Texas, and graduated from Stephen F. Austin University. After teaching elementary school for several years, he moved to M...

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Having recently completed a tour this fall at the new Canopy Lodge in Panama, I was pleasantly surprised to see the changes in the species that now visit the fruit feeders. On our previous trip, as well as this Christmas tour, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Summer Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Clay-colored Robin, Tennessee Warbler, and Buff-throated Saltator all visited the fruit feeders; however, on this Christmas trip, Dusky-faced Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Rufous Motmot, and Orange-billed Sparrow had joined the list of those enjoying the bananas and papayas placed there for them. Since the Canopy Lodge only recently opened, I imagine the list will continue to grow as more birds discover the fruit tables.

Although the fruit tables were constantly active, we still managed to take time to view the numerous other species visiting the garden. We especially enjoyed the White-necked Jacobin, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Garden Emerald, and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, as well as other hummers that were feeding on the various flowers planted on the grounds. Other noteworthy species seen in the garden were a White Hawk that flew over, Orange-chinned Parakeets that preened each other in a nearby tree, Squirrel Cuckoo, a Green Kingfisher feeding in the stream that runs through the garden, White-thighed Swallow, Bay Wren, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola.

Our morning birding up on “La Mesa” also proved to be very productive. There we watched Broad-winged Hawk and Short-tailed Hawk riding the morning thermals. Blue-headed Parrots sat in a nearby tree long enough for us to view them in the scope. Stripe-throated Hermit, Green Hermit, and Band-tailed Barbthroat fed in a patch of Heliconia flowers while we all happily looked on, and a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird sat on a nest nearby. A Blue-crowned Motmot graced us with its presence, while a Black-headed Saltator fed in a nearby tree. The highlight, however, was an Orange-bellied Trogon feeding on both sides of the road, as we watched while it sallied out to pick fruit from the trees. We spent the afternoon birding along the road at “Cara Iguana.” There we saw Barred Antshrike feeding in the nearby shrubs, and a White-bellied Antbird in the thick brush just beside the road. A Panama Flycatcher hawked for insects as a pair of Thick-billed Euphonias gathered nesting material nearby.

The next morning we took a short day-trip up to the scenic “Alto de Maria” foothills. Here we had Brown-hooded Parrot perched in the scope. A White-tailed Emerald fed in flowers beside the road, as did a Purple-crowned Fairy. A Lineated Woodpecker worked an old dead tree for insects. On a trail just inside the forest we saw Rufous-and-white Wren, White-throated Thrush, and Rosy Thrush-Tanager. A flock came through with Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Woodcreeper, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Silver-throated Tanager, and Plain-colored Tanager, as well as various others. Back along the road we saw Tufted Flycatcher, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, and Common Bush-Tanager. The various species of birds, along with the spectacular views, made the morning most pleasant indeed. The afternoon was spent birding at Samia. Here in the forest we saw Black-throated Trogon, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Dusky Antbird, and White-bellied Antbird. We also watched a Black-faced Antthrush as it fed in the understory just meters away, as Black-chested Jays scolded overhead.

Our last morning was spent at Cerro Gaital National Park. Here we had the luck of seeing a Gray-necked Wood-Rail cross the path. Violet-crowned Woodnymph and Green-crowned Brilliant fed in the flowers along the path. White-ruffed Manakin, Golden-collared Manakin, and Thrush-like Schiffornis fed in the Rubiaceae, as Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Ochraceous Wren, and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch also made an appearance. These and many other species kept us busy as we enjoyed our last day of birding on the Christmas at El Valle Pre-Trip.