Costa Rica & Panama

25 November - 10 December 2000

Jamie McMillan
Rolando Delgado (Costa Rica)
Rick Morales (Panama)

Henri (Costa Rica)
Manuel (Panama)


26th November TAPANTI

We had, as usual, our first taste of Costa Rican bird watching at Tapanti Reserve to the east of San José. It was a fine sunny day with light cloud on the tops of the mountains. We stopped at Orosi to look at coffee plantations and had our first views of Black and Turkey Vultures soaring on the rising thermals. At the first bridge over a fast flowing stream we saw a pair of American Dipper, much lower down than we usually see them in January and February.

Inside the Reserve it seemed very quiet at first, but a small bird soon popped up from beside the path. It looked like a Robin without a tail, and was in fact an Ochre-breasted Anteater, a very scarce species, and one even Rolando had never seen. We drove up to the end where there were a few more birds, though it seemed much quieter than usual. Three-striped Warbler and Golden-bellied Flycatcher were the highlights here. We walked up to a viewpoint over the waterfall, and back at the car park a pair of Slate-throated Redstart gave excellent views. Although the birds were quiet the butterflies were superb here and the flowers provided much of interest, and a small puddle beside the road held a remarkable array of colourful tropical fish which would have graced any aquarium.

As we drove back to the entrance Ron called for us to stop and right beside the bus were a pair of Collared Trogons. We had excellent views of these. Further on after the entrance we encountered a mixed flock and tried to sort through the warblers and vireos. Our usual excellent lunch at Kiri was mainly of trout, the local speciality. However there were few birds there. After lunch we looked at the Concabas Ponds but they were very dry and so we continued up the Pan-American Highway into increasing fog and rain at the top. We reached Trogon Lodge just as it was getting dark. This has much changed since I was last here, with a huge dining room and large picture windows, but some things don't change: you still get the sound of running water from outside your cabins, and the usual dazzling array of moths are attracted to the lights at night.

Overnight Trogon Lodge


Although we had warned people how cold it could be up here, in fact it had been quite a mild night and we were up at half past five making ourselves some coffee. We only had to wait fifteen minutes for our first Resplendent Quetzal briefly flying in the trees opposite. It was a superb male. The walk down to the bridge and back gave us brief views of another male Quetzal and American Dipper, but as we got back to the lodge, right opposite the dining room again, a superb male perched for a long time in the open for us all to see. In fact it was still there after breakfast looking truly resplendent in the sunshine.

The usual hummingbirds were very busy around the feeders and the first birds of the day had been Sooty-capped Bush Tanagers picking moths from around the lights by the verandah. On the way out after breakfast we stopped the bus and had superb views of Black-capped Flycatcher. We were heading up to Finca Quetzales where a very pleasant walk round the cloud forest with its huge oak trees produced a nice array of high altitude species including Large-footed Finch and Black-billed Nightingale Thrush. There was also a continuous stream of Barn Swallows seemingly migrating over the ridge.

After an excellent and filling lunch at the Finca we headed up to the top of the Cerro de la Muerte (3,250 metres). As the clouds rolled about us, we saw plenty of the hoped-for Volcano Junco. On the way down a stop at Rolando's suggestion produced the very hard-to-see Timberline Wren. Here up in the paramo, the Alpine zone of Costa Rica, there were also many fine Alpine-type flowers. It was raining as we went down the hillside. This gave way to a very light drizzle as we hit the road up to Trogon Lodge. Several people wanted to walk down this road leaving Kate and our driver Henry on board. However, very soon we found them again watching an Emerald Toucanet and, with it, a flock of Silvery-throated Jays, an elusive resident of the highland forests. We also had good views of the very small Hairy Woodpecker here.

We continued down to a small bridge. This spot is usually very good for small birds and we saw Collared Redstart and Yellow-thighed Finch amongst a host of others. As it was getting dark Rolando suggested we went down the Cabinas Chacon for the last hour. This is another lodge further down the valley. We saw here Green Violet- ear on the feeders and had excellent views of Acorn Woodpecker. There was a nice mixed flock in one tree which included three Blue-hooded Euphonias.

Overnight Trogon Lodge


After a much cooler night we had a cold morning walk with good views of Torrent Tyrannulet but sadly no Quetzals. We left at 8 o' clock in incredibly clear weather on the top of the mountain. From here we had excellent views across to Chiripo, the highest peak in Costa Rica, and we were looking down at the clouds on both sides.

After a short stop at the town of San Isidro to pick up some beer and wine (essentials for Wilson Tropical Gardens where no such things are on sale) we continued on to Los Cusingos. We stopped at the fields on the way in for the usual Fork-tailed Flycatcher and several other birds including Orchard Oriole. At Los Cusingos itself we walked down to the house and were welcomed by Dr. Alexander Skutch and Pamela. Pamela is sadly much less active than when we last met her two years ago and she is no longer able to garden, but she was delighted with the gift of a jar of Marmite that Kate had brought from her sister in Bournemouth!

The birds here were very quiet at first but as we walked down to the lower paddock it became very busy with tanagers, hummingbirds and so on. After lunch here we continued on the road south stopping for several raptors including excellent views of a White-tailed Kite.

We reached Wilson Tropical Gardens giving ourselves about an hour of daylight. Assembling on the verandah we had the first of the many amazingly close views of tanagers and honeycreepers on the bananas here. This is a superb place for getting close views of birds. There were Fiery-billed Aracaris at eye level in the trees, Blue-crowned Motmots just below us and many warblers and flycatchers. This must be one of the busiest birding experiences on offer in Costa Rica - comparable to the Asa Wright Centre in Trinidad. However, sadly, you have to bring your own rum punch here. As dusk fell, the frog chorus started; at least I hope the grunting and squealing from the bushes were amphibians and not the resident students!

Overnight Wilson Botanic Gardens

29th November WILSON - ESQUINAS

It was very clear during the night with marvellous stars but was misty at dawn. Before breakfast we had wonderful views of the tanagers with Silvery-throated Tanager being the star turn on the bananas. This was followed by a superb breakfast on the balcony.

Wilson is at about a thousand metres in a coastal range so it was a steep drop down to Esquinas Lodge in the Pacific lowlands. On the road into Esquinas, the bridge that was so good two years ago had very little, but the road past La Gamba village had much of interest. The rice paddyfields here were wet and were full of jacanas and herons. A hovering White-tailed Kite also provided interest. It was very hot and humid at Esquinas Lodge itself where there were major roof repairs under way. Many of the palm leaves needed replacing, one of the hazards of an ethnic-style dining room.

A short walk along the edge of the forest here produced masses of birds in a mixed flock. There were tanagers, manakins, ant-birds and woodcreepers. The star bird was a Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, one of the local specialities. Rolando then took us up on one of the quite hard wet trails but only a few hundred yards into the superb primary forest here we saw Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Red-capped Manakin and several other species. The prolific fungi and epiphytes really gave a feel of the rain forest here, and we had excellent views of a Tent Bat perching briefly under a palm leaf.

We then had a very welcoming lunch at the lodge as usual. It was extremely humid just after lunch and rain was starting. The Cayman in the pond hauled out onto the bank and was watched very warily by the local cat.

After lunch, Rolando's forecast of heavy rain proved accurate. Masses of swallows of various kinds appeared from nowhere over the fields. José from the lodge joined us and took us to the area where we saw several Red-breasted Blackbird, another local speciality and Eastern Meadowlark. Here there were also a fine flock of White Ibises. We headed back along the road in absolutely torrential rain: the road was a complete sheet of water. We stopped for a wet group of Red-lored Parrots and climbed back into the mist up the steep road towards the Wilson Botanic Gardens arriving in the dark just in time for supper. Perhaps we should admit to some wine and beer being smuggled in, in brown paper bags under the table, I think a unique experience in the annals of The Travelling Naturalist.

Overnight Wilson Botanic Gardens


It rained overnight and it was a very wet dewy morning. However it soon cleared and it was very busy 'birdwise'. There were many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks that had appeared, also a Rose-throated Becard, Summer Tanager, a Blackburnian Warbler and a Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant all at the balcony. However as we dropped down towards the coast rain clouds bubbled up again. We hit them at Aguas Benes, at the same time as a gathering of White-collared Swifts flew up the valley trying to beat the storm. Again we hit torrential rain as we drove along the Pan-American Highway to Golfito.

After a bit of a conference we decided to brave the covered boat and set off in the rain towards the mangroves. Here there were Royal Terns, both Laughing and Franklin's Gulls, Brown Pelicans and Frigatebirds to entertain us, and many waders on the mud as it was low tide. These included Whimbrel, Long-billed Dowitcher and Willet. Spotted Sandpiper was the commonest wader. After an hour or so it cleared up and we had some fine sunshine. However having set off in the low tide we kept hitting the mud banks and made rather slow progress. We eventually got to the mouth of the river and started seeing typical mangrove birds including several kingfishers and Osprey, and also had good views of a crocodile and White-faced Capuchin monkeys. Perhaps the best bird here was a superb Bare-throated Tiger Heron.

We stopped for a fine picnic under the mangroves. The Capuchins came to investigate and we had good views of a Prothonotory Warbler. We found the going back much easier as the tide was higher, but the rain clouds were gathering again and we hit the rain on the way up to Wilson. We decided to continue onto the ponds at San Vito near the airfield where Rolando asked for permission to go into a private garden to view the ponds. It was cheerfully given and two ladies from their kitchen watched us in a fairly amused fashion as we lined up our telescopes to see Moorhens, Purple Gallinule, Blue-winged Teal and a new species for us in Costa Rica, Ringed-neck Duck. Here there were also White-throated Crakes calling but, predictably, we didn't see them. Overnight Wilson Botanic Gardens


It was a fine clear dawn and the pre-breakfast watch from the verandah produced the usual excellent mix. We had a bit of time this morning to explore the grounds and had a great walk around the garden. One of the local specialities, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. eventually showed well. We had some other excellent species including a Violet Sabrewing hummingbird and a Turkey Vulture perching low in a tree. We couldn't quite understand this until we saw a dead Opossum on the ground below. Turkey Vultures locate their prey by smell and this had certainly managed to find its prey very easily. There were many middle and high elevation species together including Slate-throated Redstart, Wilson's Warbler and a superb Emerald Toucanet and skulking Orange-billed Sparrows.

We had packed and left by 11 o' clock descending through spectacular broken cloud, seeing a pair of Lineated Woodpeckers as our final birds in Costa Rica; and so we proceeded to the border where we met Rick Morales from Ancon Expeditions holding a Travelling Naturalist sign by the Costa Rican immigrations post. After two sets of formalities we said good-bye to Rolando and our cheerful driver Henry, and transferred to the Panama bus.

Forty minutes later we were heading east to David in Panama. The countryside looked immediately different. It was a savannah-type landscape with maize fields, and we had different birds almost immediately. Rick pointed out a flock of Brown-throated Parakeets, birds that don't appear on the Costa Rican list but seem to be quite numerous here east of the border. We were also to see them very well up in the mountains.

We stopped to eat our box lunch by the road and then continued to David along a very busy dual carriageway and up to Boquete through increasingly wild savannah sprinkled with volcanic black boulders, the remnants of an eruption of Volcan Baru six hundred and eighty years ago. The volcano is dormant (we hope for the next three days anyway). Then we soon dropped into the bowl shaped valley of Boquete where we found the charming Hotel Panamonte with its blue painted wooden building and log fires. With the mountains all around and thunder echoing around the valley it reminded me very much of the French Pyrenees. As Dilys said "I never thought Panama would look like this". The birds here were quite similar to the Costa Rican highlands but we had a few different ones including Lesser Goldfinch, a bird I have never seen in Costa Rica, and Plain Wren. The bar with a roaring log fire made an excellent place for the evening call-over.

Overnight Boquete


It had rained overnight and it was still damp for the morning birding in the garden. There was an incredible fly-over of hundreds of White-collared Swifts. We also had several new species including Scarlet-thighed Dacnis.

After breakfast we got into our two four wheel drive vehicles for the trip up Volcan Baru. The road here starts innocently enough with just a few pot-holes. Just before the park, though, the pot-holes stop and the rocks begin in earnest. Road is a rather generous term for the route we were taking. As we went up it resembled more the aftermath of a medium-sized earthquake. Even our tough four-wheel drive got stuck on the mud, rocks and geological fissures in the middle of the track. The drivers did an incredible job to skirt the major hazards and we only got seriously stuck, (in the sense of needing major re-arrangement of boulders under the vehicle) on one occasion. Later we were to meet Scott Duggan, the author of the 'Lonely Planet Guide to Panama' who thought we were lucky - he needed to be winched out seven times on his last trip up here!

We stopped several times for birds on the way up including superb Flame-coloured Tanagers, eventually calling it quits at a promising patch of oak forest. Within seconds one of the drivers had pointed out a Quetzal. We saw this female bird quite well and then soon realised the trees were alive with birds. However these were becoming increasingly hard to see in the rapidly descending mist and drizzle. We had a short walk through the forest seeing at least another five Quetzals and a variety of species, the commonest being Black-throated Green Warbler, but also the lovely Flame-throated Warbler. We walked up a steep slope back onto the road to find a picnic laid out for us on two picnic tables; an idyllic spot for a picnic if it hadn't been drizzling. Here, too the trees were alive with birds, Emerald Toucanet being the star. The descent was quite thrilling too, the bumps and crashes reminding me of a land equivalent of white-water rafting.

We stopped again by the park entrance where we saw various Grassquits, Yellow-throated Brush Finch and a Sharp-shinned Hawk causing havoc amongst the chickens. Then on through the coffee plantations for a good variety of species including Red-legged Honeycreeper, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird and another Panamanian speciality, Garden Emerald hummingbird. Here we also saw a splendid flock of about seventy Brown-throated Parakeets feeding on a maize field. Rain seemed to follow us down the mountains so we headed for home at 4.30 pm.

Overnight Boquete


On our pre-breakfast stroll we added Striped Cuckoo to our list.

Afterwards in clearing skies we set off for Finca Lerida where we stopped at a woodland edge. This was excellent for hummingbirds including several that we didn't see in the Costa Rican Highlands, including a superb fly-past of Sulphur-winged Parakeet. We walked up the trail with the two four-wheel drive vehicles coming behind. It was great forest birding, new species including Black-and-White Becard and Black-striped Warbler. In the sunshine it was quite fresh and felt like an English spring day. Not many vehicles had passed this way recently. We could tell by the way the drivers were getting out wielding machetes. At one point it took four of us to pull a tree trunk out of the way.

The epiphytes were superb here including Yellow Oncidium orchids in flower. The trackside flowers were spectacular here and included lovely Purple Orchids and many spectacular Begonias. We had a lovely picnic in a woodland glade, very reminiscent of an English beech wood and then returned to the business end of the Finca, the coffee plantations. Here there were many hummingbirds and we had good views of Green Violet-ear as well as Slaty Flowerpiercer. We stopped on the way back for coffee and souvenirs and got back mid-afternoon, just as the rain started. Again we had an incredible gathering of swifts above the village. After another superb dinner we were all asked by Rick for some information about the flights and so we gave him our passport numbers... and our weights! Yes the airline needs to know our weight, and I have nightmares about my excess baggage charge the next morning.

Overnight Boquete


A clear night and an early start at 5.00 am. to leave for David Airport. We had superb views of Volcan Baru and the Panama coast from the air in the clear conditions. Soon we were flying over the bridge of the Americas entrance to the Panama Canal and looking out at the queue of ships in the bay. We headed to out to our hotel for a late breakfast and then we went out 'birding' the canal and the Panama City shore. It was decidedly warm here and the birds were also pretty tropical and the South American influence was soon seen in the form of Greater Ani and Tropical Mockingbird. On the beach there were many new shore birds including Wilson's Plover and Least Sandpiper.

We headed out onto the causeway for lunch overlooking the bay and its islands on one side and Panama City's gleaming skyscrapers on the other. We had excellent food here and the remarkable sight of a Two-toed Sloth going hand over hand along a telephone cable just across the water. It moved remarkably quickly.. for a sloth anyway. Then onto a place which Ric knew, a muddy channel which was admittedly a bit smelly, but packed with ducks and waders, including hundreds of Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Solitary, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, various herons and Blue-winged Teal - constant entertainment!

But the really spectacular ornithological spectacle was going on overhead. Thousands of Turkey Vultures were on the move. It was the first sunny day after quite a period of rain, and the raptors were obviously using the clear weather to migrate. As well as the Turkey Vultures there were lesser numbers of Swainson's and Broad-winged Hawks, and Wood Storks. It was an incredible sight: the raptors you could see heading off into the distance looking like smoke. The Panama isthmus is a migration funnel like the Bosporus, but this surely beats anything found in Europe!

We ended the day in mangroves near the airport, a rather rubbish strewn access road but with good birds including Mangrove Warblers and a Straight-billed Woodcreeper. It had been a tiring day but with some superb birding.

Overnight Panama City


A sunny start in Panama City saw us heading through the old U.S. military base now being renovated as an expensive private suburb. We went past the canal locks and on to our boat, landing on the shore of Lake Gatun where the Chagres River meets the lake.

Almost immediately another South American bird showed itself, a Wattled Jacana, and soon we were out on the Panama Canal itself. Anything less like a canal you can't imagine. The channel consists of a series of lakes studied with islands with dense tropical forest clothing the shores. Marker buoys denote the shipping channel, which isn't especially busy. We saw maybe five ships going through during the day.

Our first stop was on a peninsula, where the trail led through ruined U.S. military buildings being rapidly reclaimed by the forest. Almost as soon as we landed Rick saw a Three-toed Sloth high in a Cecropia tree. We had brilliant views of this delightful character through a telescope. We then went along the trail that inhabited the rather spooky ruins. It was like discovering something like the base camp in 'Apocalypse Now', and we almost expected green painted figures to step out of the shadows. However, we proceeded along to the railway where many birds on the edge of the forest included more Panamanian specialities such as Golden-collared Manakin and Yellow-tailed Oriole.

We went back to the boat and headed north across the lake to the 'Monkey Islands'. Here we saw Capuchin, Spider and Howler monkeys and the delightful Geoffroy's Tamarin. All of these had been released onto the islands from captivity but apart from some feeding by researchers from the Smithsonian Laboratory they were living pretty much in a wild state. We headed on right on up to the Gatun Locks nearly on the Caribbean and then went back for a picnic lunch on one of the smallest islands under a palm-thatched shelter.

Back via the Chagres River we saw more jacanas, Snail Kites and many Ospreys. This was a really fast boat and we zoomed across the water; Ron and Roma in the front seemed to enjoy getting absolutely soaked! After this exhilarating ride we headed onto the Canopy Tower. The coach climbed up through dense forest, then we saw a turquoise multi-sided structure looming up in front of us.

The Canopy Tower is an old U.S. radar station used, amongst other things, to track drug flights from Columbia, but when the U.S. left a local businessman got the concession and he has converted this place delightfully into a fine lodge. We climbed up to our rooms, which were beautifully done out in locally grown teak, and already had good views of the canopy. Up to the dining area there were even better views right across Panama to the city on one side and the entrance to the Canal and to the forests on the Caribbean side. This is a huge round room with dining area, library and hammocks strung up at strategic intervals for some really laid-back birding. Up one more floor through a hatch and the views up here were simply stunning. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon just gazing out over the forest.

Down at the feeders Raul the owner joined us and told us a bit about the immense project to convert this U.S. tower. On the face of it, it seemed unlikely material. He said that he had always thought of building a lodge made up of cabins by a river deep in the forest. He never thought he would end up using a radar tower, but the result is fabulous, one of the best lodges we know. Raul was very proud of his hummingbird feeders, which needed daily maintenance and attracted at least six species while we were there. Blue-chested Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Long-tailed Hermit and a superb Violet-bellied Hummingbird were there more or less constantly. As dusk fell it rained for the first time that day and we went in for snacks and dinner.

Overnight Canopy Tower


We started the day with coffee at the top of the tower and Green Shrike-Vireos giving their Greenshank-like call. Pale-vented Pigeons flocked on the trees in the valley and Keel-billed Toucans called from the tree tops. Suddenly there was a flash of electric blue, and a Blue Cotinga was perching below the toucans to give wonderful views in the scopes, a stunning sight.

After breakfast we headed down the approach road. The sight of a Puffbird had us screeching to a halt. We got out to look and realised we were in the middle of an army ant-swarm!. Keeping our feet moving all the time we watched the 'professional' ant followers, Plain, Brown and Barred Woodcreepers, Spotted and Bi-coloured Ant-bird as they picked up the hapless insects disturbed by the ants. A Broad-billed Motmot watched nearby and a Black-faced Ant-Thrush crept through the leaf litter. Many of the birds were so intent on catching insects they would come really close to us seemingly oblivious of our presence. It was easy to get entranced by the birds and neglect one's legs. Roma kept watch on mine, slapping any ants that dared go above my ankles! You really had to keep on the move here to avoid being carted off into the forest by the ants.

Then it was onwards for a short drive, the famed "Pipeline Road". When I heard about this many years ago I had visions of dodging juggernauts along a busy highway, and peering into the forest over a huge pipe from the churned-up muddy edges. In fact the "Pipeline Road" is a delightful woodland trail that snakes through some of the Soberania National Parks best quality forest. Immediately we were into an ant-swarm, watching Red-throated Ant-Tanagers and the weird looking Song Wren. Further on still we saw a pair of Slaty-backed Trogons. In fact these Trogons proved to be incredibly numerous. At one point near a fruiting tree there were at least ten trogons of two species, together with a whole bunch of Scarlet-rumped Caciques and Purple-throated Fruit Crows. At one point while watching the trogons we realised that a Three-toed Sloth was looking down at us. Dappled sunshine ensured a fascinating variety of insects too with Blue Morpho butterflies constantly flitting along the trail, and other spectacular creatures including the huge Helicopter Damselfly.

We got back for lunch just in time to avoid a torrential downpour. Then we headed for the Summit Gardens in the sunshine; these were crowded with school kids gawping through the cages of Macaws and various other creatures from Panama's forests, mostly rescued from the pet trade. The Harpy Eagles were well worth a look, though, and several of the birds around the park were new, including Panama Flycatcher. Just over the road from the gardens an unpromising looking track is signposted 'Detective School'. We took the coach down and stopped by a small pool. Within seconds Rick was beckoning us to have a look through his scope at a superb Boat-billed Heron in plain view in some dead branches over the water. I was very pleased as we hadn't seen this species (which I'd used as the official trip illustration!) at the expected place in Golfito.

The wildlife was not quite over for the day. After dinner as we sat in the huge round dining room someone, I think it was Kate, called "Kinkajou!". We rushed to the windows with the big spotlight. There it was, eating one of the bananas that José the local guide had left up a tree. We had superb views of this elusive nocturnal rainforest creatures before it climbed away into the dark canopy.

Overnight Canopy Tower


At 6.00 am coffee was served on the bird-deck again this morning, but with the mist it was hard to see anything new. The walk down the road after breakfast gave us little new as the drizzle kept the birds quiet. Canada Warbler was a good bird to see. It brightened up later and we saw Yellow-tailed Orioles, Black-chested Jays and a fine Two-toed Sloth.

After lunch we were taken down in the 'golf cart' to the plantation road. We stopped on the way for a Three-toed Sloth and a baby overhead. We were joined by an American from Atlanta who must have thought we were completely nuts, as fifty yards into the trail Rick and several of us dived into thick scrub down a muddy hillside to see an Oscillated Antbird amongst other antbird species. There were many frogs and toads along the trail, as well as Leaf-cutter and Army ants. The birds were pretty active here in the afternoon. Back at the tower for the last bit of daylight and it was very active despite the drizzle. We had excellent views of Flame-coloured Tanager, various warblers and both Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins on the same tree but sadly we missed the Kinkajou 's visit to the banana this evening.

Overnight Canopy Tower


A starry dawn gave way to a very damp start but soon the sun came out and with it new birds. It was evidently 'National Parrot Day' with Red-lored and Mealy Parrots and Orange-chinned Parakeet all offering themselves for inspection. We set off and spent an hour or so at Miraflores Locks watching the Panama Canal in operation and the displays there.

We then headed for the old part of Panama City, a run-down but fascinating picturesque part of the town, now being slowly renovated. There is huge potential here, with lovely squares and a waterfront for cafés and shops but it was very quiet and rather down-beat today. In fact it was National Mother's Day, and this meant that the streets were mostly, thankfully, traffic-free but the hotel restaurant was packed. We eventually got a table with red roses in vases and were serenaded by a guitar trio.

After lunch some went shopping while others went to Metropolitan Park. This is an excellent slice of rainforest and was very productive in the afternoon sunshine. The highlights were a fine White-necked Puffbird and superb Crimson-crested Woodpecker right over the trail. We ended up with a farewell meal at the charecterful Tinajas Restaurant. There was an amazingly good floor show with Panamanian folk music and dancing, and Rick was presented with the Sibley American Bird Guide and an obligatory Travelling Naturalist polo shirt.

Overnight Panama City


After the early morning shopping we headed for the ruins of Old Panama. This is an excellent birding site and there were masses of shore-birds together with a Peregrine, a couple of Gull-billed Terns and a flock of Saffron Finches near the ruins. After a couple of hours here our driver Manuel took us to the airport for our flight home.

Many thanks to all those that contributed to the success of this pioneering trip, to Rolando and Henry from Horizontes and Jackie in the office and to Ancon Expeditions and especially to Rick Morales for introducing us to Panama, surely potentially one of the best birdwatching countries in the world.

Jamie McMillan

January 2001


Key: C - Costa Rica; P - Panama


TINAMOUS Tinamidae

Great Tinamou Tinamus major (Heard at Canopy Tower) (P)

DARTERS Anhingidae

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga Three seen on Lake Gatun (P)

CORMORANTS Phalacracoracidae

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Seen at Golfito; many offshore Panama City and Lake Gatun (P)

PELICANS Pelicanidae

Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Many Golfito; hundreds Panama City (C, P)


Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Golfito and Panama City (C, P)


Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Noted mainly on the coast - a few seen on 4 days (C, P)

Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis Noted most days except around Canopy Tower (C, P).

American Great White Egret Casmerodius albus In Costa Rica seen around Esquinas and Golfito; also many at Panama City (C, P)

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens Two, Golfito, 30th (C)

Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor A few Golfito mangroves; more near Panama City (C, P)

Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Noted in most wetland areas (C, P)

Snowy Egret Egretta thula Seen on the coast at Golfito and near Panama City (C, P)

Green Heron Butorides virescens Seen near Esquinas. Golfito, Panama City and Lake Gatun (C, P)

Yellow-crowned Night-heron Nyctanassa violacea Only seen around Panama City (P)

Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius Two at pool near Detective School, Panama Canal (P)

Bare-throated Tiger-heron Tigrisoma mexicanum One in Golfito mangroves (C)

STORKS Ciconiidae

Wood Stork Mycteria americana 22 over Esquinas on 29th; over 100 flying S over Panama City on 4th (C, P)

IBISES & SPOONBILLS Threskiornithidae

American White Ibis Eudocimus albus Around 20 seen near Esquinas and Golfito (C)


Blue-winged Teal Anas discors 6 at San Vito Ponds near Wilson; one near Esquinas; 50 or more near Panama City (C, P)

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris 1 San Vito Ponds, 30th (C)

American vultures Catharidae

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Seen daily. Over 1000 flying south over Panama City on 4th (C, P)

American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Seen daily (C, P)

OSPREY Pandionidae

Osprey Pandion haliaetus 5 at Golfito; noted 4 days in Panama, max 10 on Lake Gatun (C, P)

HAWKS Accipitridae

Gray-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis One on Plantation Pond, near Canopy Tower (P)

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus 10 records -seen at san Vito and Esquinas (C). 5 near Boquete and one at Panama City (P)

Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis At least 10 seen Lake Gatun (P)

Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus One seen perched at Los Cusingos (C)

Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus One at Volcan Baru, one at Finca Lerida in Panama Highlands (P)

White Hawk Leucopternis albicollis One briefly near Esquinas (C)

Gray(-lined) Hawk Asturina nitida One seen en route to Wilson (C)

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris Seen on 4 days in southern Costa Rica, max 10 on 29th near Esquinas (C)

Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus Singles at Finca Quetzales and Wilson (C), Boquete (P) with around 20 flying S. over Panama City on 4th

Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus One at Volcan Baru and another seen on two days at Canopy Tower - both dark-phase birds (P)

Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni Over 50 flying S. over Panama City on 4th; singles from Canopy Tower each day (P)

White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus Single near David on 1st (P)

Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus Single at Panama City on 4th (P)

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Two high over Finca Quetzales on 27th (C); one seen well at Finca Lerida on 3rd (P)


Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus Two near Esquinas (C) on 29th; one Panama City on 4th (P)

Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima Widespread. Noted 10 days with max 10+ on 4th in Panama City (C, P)

Collared Forest-falcon Micrastur semitorquatus Heard at Metropolitan Park, Panama City (P)

Peregrine Falco peregrinus One on mudflats, Old Panama on 9th (P)


Gray-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps One glimpsed along road near Panama Canal, 5th (P)

Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens Two seen high in trees at Esquinas on 29th (C)

RAILS & COOTS Rallidae

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea Several on 2 days at Wilson (C); one in river near Panama City on 4th (P)

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis Heard at San Vito ponds (C)

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Around 7 at San Vito ponds (C); and around 20 Lake Gatun (P)

American Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus Two near Esquinas and two San Vito ponds (C). Two near Panama City and a few Lake Gatun (P)

JACANAS Jacanidae

Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa Many near Esquinas on rice paddies; a few San Vito (C)

Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana A few on Lake Gatun and pool near Miraflores in Panama City (P)

AVOCETS AND STILTS Recurvirostridae

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus Around 300 in a creek in Panama City (P)

PLOVERS Charadriidae

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis Five on a creek in Panama City (P)

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Five at Golfito mangroves (C); hundreds on mudflats by Panama City (P)

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus Three identified on creek near Panama City on 4th (P)

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia Two Golfito mangroves (C) c30 on beach near Panama City (P)

SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus c10 Golfito mangroves (C); at least 10 each day around Panama City (P)

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca c10 along creek near Panama City (P)

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes c10 on mudflats near Panama City (P)

Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria One on creek near Panama City (P)

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia Seen in most wetland areas. Noted 2 days (C) and 5 days (P) with max 30 around Panama City on 4th.

Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus 5 on Golfito mangroves (C). At least 30 near Panama City on 4th, with at least 50 off Old Panama on 9th.

(Ruddy) Turnstone Arenaria interpres 30 Golfito mangroves (C); seen off Panama City with over 200 off Old Panama on 9th (P)

Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus Two Golfito mangroves (C); 10 on beach near Panama City on 4th, with c40 off Old Panama on 9th (P)

Sanderling Calidris alba 5 Golfito mangroves (C); three on beach near Panama City (P)

Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri Over 30 Golfito mangroves (C); these probably formed the bulk of hundreds of peeps seen off Panama City on 4th and 9th (P)

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla At least 50 on beach and in creek, Panama City, 4th (P)

GULLS Laridae

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla Seen Golfito mangroves (C); thousands off Panama City and around canal (P)

Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan A few following fishing boats off Golfito (C); many more around Panama City and Lake Gatun (P) though not as numerous as Laughing Gull

TERNS Sternidae

Gull-billed Tern Geochelidon nilotica Two seen off Old Panama on 9th (P)

Royal Tern Sterna maxima Over 100 off Golfito mangroves (C); up to 50/day seen around Panama City (P)

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis Around 20 off Golfito mangroves (C)

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Seen almost daily in towns and villages (C, P)

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata Singles at Trogon Lodge (C) and Volcan Baru (P) on two days

Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis One at Wilson (C); over 50/daily seen in treetops at Canopy Tower (P)

Red-billed Pigeon Columba flavirostris One near Esquinas on 29th (C)

Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea Two at Trogon Lodge (C); two at Finca Lerida (P)

Short-billed Pigeon Columba nigrirostris One Rio Claro on 30th (C); one at Detective School (P)

Ruddy Ground-dove Columbina talpacoti Seen almost daily (C, P)

White-tipped Dove Lepotila verreauxi Seen almost daily (C, P)

Gray-chested Dove Leptotila cassini Two seen at Wilson on 1st (C)

PARROTS Psittacidae

Crimson-fronted Parakeet Aratinga finschi Seen high over San José on 26th (C)

Brown-throated Parakeet Aratinga pertinax This Panama speciality seen on 2nd near Boquete when c70 gave excellent views in a maize field (P)

Sulphur-winged Parakeet Pyrrhura hoffmanni Brief but good views of a flock of c10 at Finca Lerida (P)

Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis c10 from main road to Golfito on 30th (C) 6 at Panama City on 4th with one seen very well at Canopy Tower on 8th (P)

Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematotis c6 at Wilson on 1st (C)

Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus Two at Wilson and one at Esquinas on 29th (C); several in and around Panama City on 8th (P)

White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis Two at San Vito, with another two at Wilson (C)

Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis Several from main road from Esquinas on 29th (C); two from Canopy Tower on 8th (P)

Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa At least 6 from Canopy Tower on 8th (P)

ANIS Crotophagidae

Greater Ani Crotophaga major c8 near Panama City on 4th; 3 near Detective School 6th (P)

Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani Many at Esquinas on 29th (C)

Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris A few near San Vito on 28th (C)

Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia One in the Hotel Panamonte garden on 3rd (P)


Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana 3 sightings in Costa Rica, from San José to San Vito (C); also seen Pipeline Road and Canopy Tower (P)

SWIFTS Apodidae

White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris 30 at Aguas Benes in rain on 30th (C); incredible gathering of hundreds over Boquete on 2nd and 3rd before rain (P)

Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicauda The commonest swift, noted on 9 days from San Isidro southwards. Hundreds over Boquete on 3rd (P)

Vaux' Swift Chaetura vauxi Seen over Cabinas Chacon on 27th (C)

Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura Several over Summit Gardens on 6th (P)


Band-tailed Barbthroat Threnetes ruckeri Several at Esquinas (C)

Green Hermit Phaethornis guy One seen at Wilson on 1st (C)

(Eastern) Long-tailed Hermit Phaethornis superciliosus Seen at Esquinas and Wilson (C), with one regularly on the feeders at Canopy Tower (P)

Little Hermit Phaethornis longuemareus Seen at Esquinas (C)

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii Several at Los Cusingos, with one at Wilson on 1st (C)

Violet Sabrewing Campylopterus hemileucurus A female at Wilson on 1st (C)

White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora Many at the Canopy Tower feeders (C)

Green Violet-ear Colibri thalassinus Seen in both Costa Rica and Panama highlands (C, P)

Garden Emerald Chlorostilbon assimilis Seen at Boquete and Finca Lerida (P)

(Violet-) Crowned Woodnymph Thalurania colombica A few seen at Esquinas (C)

Fiery-throated Hummingbird Panterpe insignis Several at Finca Quetzales on 27th (C)

Violet-bellied Hummingbird Damophila julie Seen frequently around the Canal, with stunning views of the males on the feeders at Canopy Tower (P)

Beryl-crowned Hummingbird Amazilia (Polyerata) decora Several at Esquinas (C)

Blue-chested Hummingbird Polyerata amabilis Seen well on the Canopy Tower feeders (P)

Mangrove Hummingbird Polyerata boucardi A probable sighting in Golfito mangroves (C)

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird Saucerottia edward Seen Boquete, Finca Lerida and on the feeders at Canopy Tower (P)

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl The most frequently seen hummingbird, noted 8 days (C, P)

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird Eupherusa eximia One at Finca Lerida on 3rd (P)

Black-bellied Hummingbird Eupherusa nigriventris One briefly at Tapanti on 26th (C)

White-tailed Emerald Elvira chionura A female at Wilson on 1st (C)

White-vented Plumeleteer Chalybura buffonii Seen on 3 days in the forests around Canopy Tower (P)

Gray-tailed Mountain-gem Lampornis cinereicauda Seen well on feeders at Trogon Lodge (C). Two at Finca Lerida (P)

Magnificent Hummingbird Eugenes fulgens Common around Trogon Lodge (C). One at Finca Lerida (P)

Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti Good views at Esquinas and Wilson (C), with one at the Canopy Tower on 7th (P)

Volcano Hummingbird Selasphorus flammula Common around Trogon Lodge and Cerro de la Muerte (C). A few on Volcan Baru (P)

Scintillant Hummingbird Selasphorus scintilla Superb views on the road to Volcan Baru, and at Finca Lerida (P)

TROGONS Trogonidae

Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno Two males, one seen superbly at Trogon Lodge on 27th (C); at least 7 in misty conditions on Volcan Baru (P)

Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena Over 20 on Pipeline Road, with another at Canopy Tower (P)

Collared Trogon Trogon collaris Two seen well at Tapanti (C)

Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus Seen along Pipeline Road and Canopy Tower (P)

Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus Three or four along Pipeline Road (P)


Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata Three sightings near Esquinas and Golfito (C) and near Panama City (P)

Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon One at Golfito (C); one near Panama City (P)

Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona Several nerar Esquinas and Golfito (C)

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana Several near Esquinas and Colfilto (C); one on Lake Gatun (P)

American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea One glimpsed near Esquinas (C)

MOTMOTS Motmotidae

Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum Up to 3 seen daily at Canopy Tower (P)

Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii One on 7th at Canopy Tower (P)

Blue-crowned Motmot Motmotus momota Seen daily at Wilson (C); one at Metropolitan Park (P)

PUFFBIRDS Bucconidae

White-necked Puffbird Notharchus macrorhynchos One in Metropolitan Park (P) on 8th

White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis Two at Canopy on 6th, with one Pipeline Road on 7th (P)


Red-headed Barbet Eubucco bourcierii One at Finca Lerida on 3rd (P)

TOUCANS Ramphastidae

Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus Seen at Trogon Lodge and Wilson (C) and in forest at Volcan Baru (P)

Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus One Canopy Tower on 7th (P)

Fiery-billed Aracari Pteroglossus frantzii Excellent views from veranda at Wilson on 28th and 29th (C)

Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus Up to 10 seen daily, Canopy Tower (P)

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii Seen Esquinas, Golfito (C); Pipeline Road and Canopy Tower (P)


Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus Several in the highlands in both countries (C, P)

Golden-naped Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysauchen One at Esquinas (C)

Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani One at Pipeline Road (P)

Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus The commonest woodpecker, seen on 8 days (C, P) south of San Isidro

Hoffmann's Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii Two seen in San José (C)

Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus One near Trogon Lodge (C)

Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus Two on Pipeline Road (P)

Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus One near Aguas Benes on 1st (C); seen Pipeline and Plantation Roads (P)

Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos One Canopy Tower, 7th; one female Metropolitan Park, 8th (P)

WOODCREEPERS Dendrocolaptidae

Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa At least 6 of these 'professional' ant-followers seen with a swarm near Canopy Tower, 6th (P)

Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus One Wilson, 1st(C); one Metropolitan Park (P)

Barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes certhia Up to 4 seen with ant-swarms near Canopy Tower on 2 days (P)

Straight-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus picus One in mangroves near Panama City (P)

Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus guttatus One Los Cusingos (C); seen 3 days around Canopy Tower and Canal (P)

Black-striped Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus One Esquinas (C); two Pipeline Road (P)

Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius Seen 4 days in both highlands (C, P)

Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii Singles seen five days in both lowland areas and Tapanti (C, P)

OVENBIRDS Furnariidae

Spotted Barbtail Premnoplex brunnescens One at Tapanti (C)

Ruddy Treerunner Margarornis rubiginosus One near Trogon Lodge (C)

Plain Xenops Xenops minutus Seen 3 days near Canopy Tower and Metropolitan Park (P)


Fasciated Antshrike Cymbilaimus lineatus One near Lake Gatun, 5th (P)

Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi A male seen at Esquinas (C)

Western Slaty-antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha Up to 4 seen daily around Canopy Tower (P)

Checker-throated Antwren Myrmotherula fulviventris A couple seen with an antswarm near Canopy Tower, 6th (P)

Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis A male at Esquinas (C). Seen daily in Canal area (P)

Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina Several seen at Metropolitan Park (P)

Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul One seen Plantation Road, 7th (P)

Bicolored Antbird Gymnopithys leucaspis Several with antswarms near Canopy Tower on two days (possibly the most numerous antbird with the swarms) (P)

Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naevioides A few seen with antswarms on two days around Canopy Tower (P)

Ocellated Antbird Phaenostictus mcleannani Brief views of this prized, shy species with an antswarm on Plantation Road, 7th (P)


Black-faced Ant-thrush Formicarius analis One creeping along the forest floor with an antswarm, Canopy Tower, 6th (P)

Ochre-breasted Antpitta Grallaricula flavirostris Virtually the first bird we saw at Tapanti, a very confiding Robin-like bird which was a 'tick' even for Rolando! (C)


Mistletoe (Paltry) Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus Seen daily at Wilson (C) and Boquete (P)

Brown-capped Tyrannulet Ornithion brunneicapillum One near Lake Gatun, 5th (P)

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum One Los Cusingos (C). One at Lake Gatun, with another at Canopy Tower (P)

Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata One in Metropolitan Park (P)

Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster Seen daily at Wilson (C) and Boquete (P)

Mountain Elaenia Elaenia frantzii Seen at Trogon Lodge (C) and on Boquete on two days

Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea Seen well on two days on the stream at Trogon Lodge (C)

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus Singles on two days at Wilson (C)

Southern Bentbill Oncostoma olivaceum Several on Plantation Road (P)

Common Tody-flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum Singles on two occasions at Wilson (C), with two at Boquete on 2nd and at Canopy Tower on 6th (P)

Black-headed Tody-flycatcher Todirostrum nigriceps Singles on two days at Canopy Tower (P)

Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris One Plantation Road on 6th (P)

Yellow-margined Flycatcher Tolmomyias assimilis One at Metropolitan Park (P)

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher Terenotriccus erythrurus Several near Canopy Tower on 7th (P)

Black-tailed Flycatcher Myiobius atricaudus One at Esquinas (C)

Tufted Flycatcher Mitrephanes phaeocercus One at Tapanti, two near Trogon Lodge on 27th (C)

Eastern Wood-pewee Contopus virens One, Metropolitan Park (P)

Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens Singles seen 4 days, Wilson (C)

Yellowish Flycatcher Empidonax flavescens One at Finca Lerida (P)

Black-capped Flycatcher Empidonax atriceps Several seen on two days at Trogon Lodge (C)

Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans Two en route to Tapanti (C) and on the river at Boquete on two days (P)

Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus One briefly at Esquinas (C)

Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer One at Los Cusingos (C); singles at Boquete and Canopy Tower (P)

Panama Flycatcher Myiarchus panamensis One in Summit Gardens (P)

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus Widespread. Noted on 10 days, both countries (C, P)

Lesser Kiskadee Philohydor lictor 4 or 5 seen, Lake Gatun (P)

Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis Common and widespread. Noted 11 days, (C, P)

Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis Several near Esquinas (P). A few on two days in Boquete (P)

Golden-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes hemichrysus One at Tapanti (C)

Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus One on island, Lake Gatun, with another along Pipeline Road (P)

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Very common, seen daily (C, P)

Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana Two near San Isidro and another Esquinas (C). One near Panama City on 4th (P)

Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor One near Trogon Lodge (C) on 27th

Black-and-white Becard Pachyramphus albogriseus One at Finca Lerida (P)

Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae Pair at Esquinas, with another pair at Wilson on 30th (C)

Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata One at Wilson (C); singles at Boquete and Canopy Tower (P)

Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor Two at Canopy Tower on 7th (P)


Orange-collared Manakin Manacus aurantiacus Male briefly at Esquinas (C)

Golden-collared Manakin Manacus vitellinus Two of these Panama specialities near Lake Gatun (P)

Lance-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia lanceolata A female in Metropolitan Park (P)

Blue-crowned Manakin Pipra coronata Female Pipeline Road; male at Canopy Tower, 7th (P)

Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis Pair, Esquinas (C); male at Canopy Tower (P)

COTINGAS Cotingidae

Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus One at Esquinas (C)

Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii The Canopy Tower speciality seen on two days (P)

Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata c10 on Pipeline Road; also at Canopy Tower (P)

SWALLOWS Hirundinidae

Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea Seen at Esquinas (C); hundreds at Panama City, 4th; several Lake Gatun and Canopy Tower (P)

Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea Widespread. Seen daily from San Isidro south (C, P)

Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca Widespread, mainly in the highlands. Noted 7 days (C, P)

Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis Seen at Kiri, near Tapanti (C); in Panama a few around the Canal area (P)

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Many in Costa Rica, with noticeable passage over Cerro de la Muerte on 27th ©; one Panama City, 4th (P)


Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher Ptilogonys caudatus Up to 5 seen each day at Trogon Lodge (C); two at Finca Lerida (P)

DIPPERS Cinclidae

American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus Three at Tapanti; one at Trogon Lodge (C)

WRENS Troglodytidae

Black-bellied Wren Thryothorus fasciatoventris Two sightings in the Canal area (P)

Rufous-breasted Wren Thryothorus rutilus One at Wilson (C)

Plain Wren Thryothorus modestus Several on two days in the Panamonti ?? garden, Boquete, (P)

House Wren Troglodytes aedon Seen each day at Wilson (C) and Boquete (P)

Ochraceous Wren Troglodytes ochraceus Seen at Tapanti (C)

Timberline Wren Thryorchilus browni One seen in Cerro de la Muerte (C)

White-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucosticta Several at Wilson (C). One seen well near Canopy Tower (P)

Song Wren Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus Three seen around Canopy Tower and Pipeline Road (P)


Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus Noted twice near Panama City (P)


Black-faced Solitaire Myadestes melanops Heard at Tapanti and at Trogon Lodge (C)

Black-billed Nightingale-thrush Catharus gracilirostris Several near Trogon Lodge and at Finca Quetzales (C)

Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush Catharus aurantiirostris Good views of singing male at Wilson (C)

Sooty Robin (Thrush) Turdus nigrescens Seen daily in Costa Rica highlands (C)

Mountain Robin (Thrush) Turdus plebejus Seen in both Costa Rica and Panama highlands (C, P)

Clay-colored Robin (Thrush) Turdus grayi Seen daily in both Costa Rica and Panama (C, P)

GNATCATCHERS Polioptilidae

Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea One at Wilson (C). Single on two days at Canopy Tower (P)

JAYS & CROWS Corvidae

Silvery-throated Jay Cyanolyca argentigula A flock of 8 on the way down to Trogon Lodge on 27th were an excellent find (C).

Black-chested Jay Cyanocorax affinis Two on road to Canopy Tower (P)

Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio At least 10 seen at Kiri, near Tapanti (C)

BUNTINGS Emberizidae

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Not as widespread as expected. Seen daily in Costa Rica and Panama highlands, but not at Wilson, or in Canal Zone (C, P)

Volcano Junco Junco vulcani 10 - 20 seen in paramo on Cerro de la Muerte (C)

Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola Flock of c8 at Old Panama (P) on 9th

Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina Seen in agricultural lowlands in both Costa Rica and Panama (C, P)

Variable Seedeater Sporophila aurita Seen in lowlands both Costa Rica and Panama (C, P)

White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola One near Esquinas (C)

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater Sporophila minuta One near Panama City, 4th (P)

Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea Seen at Tapanti, Costa Rica lowlands, (C) and at Boquete (P)

Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris Two at Wilson (C)

Yellow-throated Brush-finch Atlapes gutturalis One near entrance to Volcan Baru N.P. (P)

Large-footed Finch Pezopetes capitalis Three at Finca Quetzales (C)

Yellow-thighed Finch Pselliophorus tibialis Several at Trogon Lodge (C)

CARDINALS & GROSBEAKS Emberizidae - Cardinalinae

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus A good series of records. Seen daily at Wilson, with max 20 there on 30th (C); also daily at Boquete with max 5 (P)

Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus Widespread. Seen daily in Costa Rica lowlands and Boquete and on two days in Canal area (P)

Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens Three records from Wilson (C)

Streaked Saltator Saltator striatipectus Seen two days at Wilson (C) and one at Boquete (P)

Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides One at Canopy Tower; two males at Metropolitan Park (P)

TANAGERS & ALLIES Emberizidae - Thraupinae

Common Bush-tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus Seen at medium elevations in both Costa Rica and Panama (C, P)

Sooty-capped Bush-tanager Chlorospingus pileatus Flocks in and around Trogon Lodge (C). Often the first bird of the day, collecting moths from the cabin lights

White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus Seen each day at Canopy Tower (P)

White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus Pair at Esquinas (C)

Black-cheeked Ant-tanager Habia atrimaxillaris A speciality of Esquinas; one male seen there (C)

Red-throated Ant-tanager Habia fuscicauda Two Pipeline Road with another in Metropolitan Park (P)

Flame-colored Tanager Piranga bidentata Several at Volcan Baru and Finca Lerida (P)

Summer Tanager Piranga rubra Widespread. Seen 4 days in Costa Rica and 4 days in Panama (C, P)

White-winged Tanager Piranga leucoptera Seen at Tapanti (C)

Crimson-backed Tanager Ramphocelus dimidiatus Up to 5 noted per day in Canal area (P)

Passerini's Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii Only seen at Tapanti (C)

Cherrie's Tanager Ramphocelus costaricensis The 'Scarlet-rumped' Tanager seen at Wilson (C) and Boquete (P)

Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus Very widespread. Noted 5 days in Costa Rica and 7 days in Panama (C, P)

Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum Very widespread, much as the previous species. Noted 4 days in Costa Rica and 7 days in Panama (C, P)

Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla Seen at Wilson at Esquinas (C); and at Metropolitan Park (P)

Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris Two records around Panama City (P)

Blue-hooded (Elegant ) Euphonia Euphonia elegantissima Three at Cahinas Chaun, nears Trogon Lodge, and two at Wilson (C)

Spot-crowned Euphonia Euphonia imitans A few at Boquete and one at Canopy Tower (P)

Plain-colored Tanager Tangara inornata Several seen daily at Canopy Tower (P)

Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala Superb views on the feeders at Wilson (C) and seen at Finca Lerida (P)

Speckled Tanager Tangara guttata Mainly seen on the feeders at Wilson (C), where superb views

Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola Seen at Tapanti and Esquinas (C), with a single at Boquete (P) - an unusual sighting here apparently

Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata A widespread species, seen each day at Wilson (C), and Canopy Tower (P), with a few at Boquete (P)

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis Dacnis venusta Several in the Panamonte garden, Boquete (P)

Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana One Esquinas (C); several each day around Canopy Tower and Canal area (P)

Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza Superb views at Wilson (C) on the feeders; seen daily at Canopy Tower (P)

Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus Seen daily at Boquete, with two records at Summit Gardens and Metropolitan Park (P)

Slaty Flowerpiercer Diglossa plumbea Several seen well around Trogon Lodge (C) and at Finca Lerida (P)


Bananaquit Coereba flaveola Seen mainly from the veranda at Wilson (C)


Bay-breasted Warbler Dendroica castanea A few seen daily at Canopy Tower (P)

Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera Odd records from mixed flocks at Tapanti, Wilson (C); Finca Lerida and Canopy Tower (P)

Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina Widespread mostly at middle elevations and above. Noted at Wilson (C) and Boquete (P)

Flame-throated Warbler Parula gutturalis Good views at both Volcan Baru and Finca Lerida (P)

Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia A good series of sightings of the delightful 'moss-turner'. Noted 3 days at Wilson (C), one at Volcan Baru, and 3 days at Canopy Tower (P)

Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia Noted 7 days, mainly in lowlands (3 days Costa Rica, 4 days Panama) (C, P)

Mangrove (Yellow) Warbler Dendroica petechia erithachoroides A family group near Panama City on 4th (P)

Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica The most widespread wintering warbler. Noted 6 days Costa Rica and 4 days Panama (C, P)

Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca Noted at Tapanti and a single each day from the veranda at Wilson (C)

Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens Seen in both Costa Rica and Panama highlands. Seemed commoner in Panama (C, P)

American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla Two single sightings at Wilson (C)

Prothonotary Warbler Prothonotaria citrea One, Golfito mangroves (C). Small flock in mangroves near Panama City; with one by Lake Gatun (P)

Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla Seen in both Costa Rica and Panama highlands. Seemed commoner in Costa Rica. One record at Wilson (C, P)

Canada Warbler Wilsonia canadensis One in deep forest on road to Canopy Tower, 7th (P)

Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus Records from Tapanti, Wilson (C), Volcan Baru and Finca Lerida (P), where it occurs with the next species

Collared Redstart Myioborus torquatus Several at Trogon Lodge (C), with Volcan Baru and Finca Lerida (P)

Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus Two at Tapanti (C)

Black-cheeked Warbler Basileuterus melanogenys At least 6 at Finca Lerida (P)

VIREOS Vireonidae

Green Shrike-vireo Vireolanius pulchellus Amazing views of this elusive canopy bird at the Canopy Tower each day (P)

Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons Records from San Isidro and Wilson (C)

Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus Mostly seen in Costa Rica at middle and high elevations, with one at Canopy Tower (C, P)

Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus One at Los Cusingos (C)

FINCHES Fringillidae

Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra One at Trogon Lodge was followed by an unusual flock of 6 at Wilson (C). Numerous at Boquete (P), where at least 25 seen on 2nd.

Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria Common at Boquete where up to 10 seen daily

SPARROWS Passeridae seen daily

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Several in lowland towns in Costa Rica (C)


Baltimore (Northern) Oriole Icterus galbula Noted 3 days in Costa Rica, at Wilson and Esquinas (C) and 2 days at Boquete (P)

Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus Heard at Canopy Tower and Pipeline Road (P)

Montezuma Oropendola Gymnostinops montezuma A Costa Rica speciality, seen at Tapanti and Esquinas (C)

Scarlet-rumped Cacique Cacicus uropygialis One flock at Esquinas (C) with several around Canopy Tower and Pipeline Road (P)

Yellow-backed Oriole Icterus chrysater One at Canopy Tower, with another in Metropolitan Park (P)

Yellow-tailed Oriole Icterus mesomelas One near Lake Gatun (P)

Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius 2 at San Isidro (C); one in Panama City (P)

Red-breasted Blackbird Sturnella militaris The Esquinas speciality, with several seen there (C)

Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna A few at Esquinas (C). Two at Volcan Baru, with another two at David airport (P)

Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus One of the most widespread birds. Seen daily, except for one day at Trogon (C, P)

Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus Seen at Golfito (C) and Panama City area (P)


Common Opossum Didelphus marsupialis Two corpses seen (C,P)

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Bradypus variegatus Five seen in canal area, including one with baby. (P)

Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth Choloepus hoffmanni One seen in Panama City climbing along a telephone cable! One near Canopy Tower (P)

Tent Bat sp. One seen at Esquinas (P)

Fruit Bat Seen at night, Panama City (P)

White-fronted Capuchin Cebus albifrons Several at Los Cusingos, and Golfito mangroves (C); Islands, Lake Gatun (P)

Mantled Howler Monkey Allonatta palliata Islands, Lake Gatun (P)

Central American Spider Monkey Ateles geoffroyi Islands, Lake Gatun (P)

Geoffroy's Tamarin Sanginus geoffroyi This delightful small primate seen islands, Lake Gatun, near Canopy Tower and in Metropolitan Park (P).

White-nosed Coati Nasua narica Seen daily around Canopy Tower (P)

Kinkajou Potoo flavus One seen at night, Canopy Tower (P)

Red-tailed Squirrel Sciurus granatensis Seen daily in Costa Rica and a few times in Panama (C,P)

Cabybara Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris Family group of 6 seen, Lake Gatun (P)

Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctuata Seen daily at Wilson (C), and twice at Canopy Tower (P)


Blue Morpho This superb butterfly seen in several forests (C,P)

Green Iguana Iguana iguana Seen in the Costa Rica lowlands and around Lake Gatun (C,P)

Brown Basilisk Basiliscus basiliscus Seen in the Costa Rica lowlands and around Lake Gatun (C,P)

Spectacled Cayman Caiman crocodilus Seen Esquinas and Lake Gatun (C,P)

American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus Two in Golfito mangroves (C)

Terrapin sp. Seen in Canal Zone (P)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2001