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Darien National Park

31 January - 8 February 2004

by Brian Allen

Summary: Cana field station and Cerro Pirre in Darien National Park for one week with pre and post side trips to Ammo Ponds, Pipeline Rd., Metropolitan Natural Park, Juan Diaz mangroves, Costa del Este, and Panama Viejo.

Birders:  Pat Deventer, Karl Ott, Doug Cook, Jim Lesser, Karl Overman and Brian Allen, with guide Ivan Hoyos.

We booked our tour with Ecoventures; Ancon Expeditions,  provided our guide, Ivan Hoyos, and the land arrangements. Our group of six was not reluctant to leave Detroit in –2 degrees F and arrived in Panama City at Tocumen airport at about 8:30 PM with the temperature a balmy 80’s.

We cleared customs within an easy 10 minutes with no problems, claimed our luggage, and were immediately met by a driver from Ancon Expeditions.  We were delayed a few minutes, having to pick up a group from Great Britain that was unable to connect with their ride.  We had our first trip birds, Great-tailed Grackles in the airport parking lot (under the mercury lights).   We had a lively trip to our hotel talking with the Brits and cruising rapidly into the city with almost no traffic.  We dropped the Brits off at a luxury tower hotel and we ended up at the relatively Spartan but clean Hotel Marbella.  We got off to a bad start at the hotel as they had all six of us in one dormitory room despite our reservations for three rooms.  After some discussion we ended up with two rooms.  One for four of us was quite warm with a tiny ineffectual, noisy air conditioner and one shared bathroom.  Two of the group had better luck with a nicer room and air conditioner.

We were hungry as the American Airlines flight only offered us pretzels on our long flight from Detroit.  With no one to help us find a restaurant we ventured out into the city to go to a place we had seen on the drive in that had an intriguing name, “Machu Picchu”, Peruvian seafood.  We had our meals, some quite good, others seemingly trawler by catch, and headed back to our hotel.

Panama Canal area: Ammo Ponds and Pipeline Rd.

After a relatively sleepless night we woke up at six and arranged on our own for two taxis’s to take us out to Pipeline Road for our first taste of Panama birding.  For some reason our tour organizer (Ecoventures) had left us until 10:45 with no scheduled birding our first morning in Panama.  It would have worked out better to organize an excursion or perhaps to spend the first night at Gamboa or closer to the birding.  We hired two taxis for $50 each to drive about 45 minutes to Pipeline Road and wait for two hours and drive us back to the Hotel Marbella.

The taxi ride was not as hair-raising as I expected.  Within about 15 minutes we were out of the city and driving down a two-lane road with little traffic through the forest of Soberania National Park.  It was tough to drive through several miles of
tropical forest and not stop but our destination was well worth it.  I hadn’t realized the Ammo Ponds were right at the start of Pipeline Road, how convenient.  We immediately pickup some good birds including an unusual Limpkin.

We stayed a bit longer on the Pipeline Rd than expected and tipped our taxi drivers some extra cash, as they dropped us back at the hotel in time for meeting our guide and Ancon Expeditions driver.  Our guide, Ivan apologized for our trouble at the hotel and mentioned we could have called Ancon Expeditions to straighten up the problems we had.

I was impressed by the excellent birding so easily had close to Panama City; toucans, aracaris, tanagers, manakins, all just a little more than a half hour from mid-city.  Also the traffic was still sparse even at 11:00 AM but Ivan reminded us that this was the weekend and weekdays can be much worse.

Ammo Ponds, Pipeline Rd. and some canal area bird’s list

Little Tinamou (heard)                 White-tailed Trogon                    Black-chested Jay

Magnificent Frigatebird               Black-tailed Trogon                    Clay-colored Robin

Neotropical Cormorant                Broad-billed Motmot                   Tropical Gnatcatcher

Brown Pelican                           Collared Aracari                         Mangrove Swallow

 Little Blue Heron                        Keel-billed Toucan                      Gray-breasted Martin

Great Blue Heron                       Barred Puffbird                           Barn Swallow

Great Egret                               Cocoa Woodcreeper                   Magnolia Warbler

Snowy Egret                              Slaty Spinetail                           Bay-breasted Warbler

Striated Heron                           Plain Xenops                             White-shouldered Tanager

Gray-headed Chachalaca            Western Slaty Antshrike             Summer Tanager

Purple Gallinule                         Streaked Antwren                      Flame-rumped Tanager

Limpkin                                     Dot-winged Antwren                   Crimson-backed Tanager

Wattled Jacana                          Black-faced Antthrush (heard)     Blue-gray Tanager

Laughing Gull                            Blue Cotinga (2 females) Golden-hooded Tanager

Pale-vented Pigeon                    Purple-throated Fruitcrow            Blue Dacnis

Ruddy Ground-Dove                   Red-capped Manakin                  Green Honeycreeper

White-tipped Dove                      Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher              Red-legged Honeycreeper

Squirrel Cuckoo                         Dusky-capped Flycatcher           Blue-black Grassquit

Orange-chinned Parakeet           Tropical Kingbird                        Variable Seedeater

Band-rumped Swift                     Fork-tailed Flycatcher                 Buff-throated Saltator

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift         Streaked Flycatcher                   Yellow-rumped Cacique

White-necked Jacobin                Social Flycatcher                       Scarlet-rumped Cacique

Violet-bellied Hummingbird          Gray-capped Flycatcher             Great-tailed Grackle

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird         Masked Tityra                            Turkey and Black Vultures

Flight to Cana

We drove out to Albrook domestic airport with a side stop at a local pharmacy to load up on bug repellant after hearing some of Ivan’s horror stories about ticks on the Cerro Pirre trail.  It was getting hot as we arrived at the airport for our 12:00
departure to Cana.  We watched as our plane baked in the heat on the runway as Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures soared overhead.  A couple of us picked up some trip birds in the ditch across from the airport, Cattle Egrets, and Neotropical Cormorants.  The plane was ready and we boarded.  It must have been over 100 degrees on board and the micro-nozzles of fresh air didn’t help, but we were all excited to be on our way to Panama’s birding Mecca.

Our plane lifted off and banked right over the Pacific entrance to the canal above dozens of cargo ships.  The flight took us out over the Pacific, and the Archipelago de las Perlas with their wonderful aquamarine waters and deserted white sand beaches, then a half hour later back over land at the beginning of the Darien Province.  There were a few towns and villages and some cleared land but quite a bit of forest.  Soon we were over undisturbed tropical forest extending to the horizon.  We flew over this forest for a half hour then banked down steeply over the trees and onto the dirt airstrip of Cana. Ivan asked the pilot about his unusual approach to the runway and the pilot remarked that we might have had one wing of our plane over the border of Columbia!  It was impressive how few openings in the forest there were even near Cana, just peaks at the river, some lagoons and then only the airstrip and clearing near the three buildings.  As soon as we exited the plane we were birding in the shade of its wings.

The plane left us to our birding for one week and as we heard its engine fade we  felt the presence of this huge wilderness.

Cana field station, Darien

Words can’t’ explain the privileged and expectant feelings of being in the heart of a great wilderness like this for an entire week.  Despite the powerful heat we heard oropendulas calling, saw Flame-rumped Tanagers, Swallow Tanagers and Blue and Yellow Macaws on our walk to our rooms in the dormitory.  The dormitory was on a rise above a creek with views of forested ridges all around and several large Erythinia trees in blossom close by.  A large epiphyte covered tree was active with Chestnut-headed Oropendula nests and tanagers.  Slaty Spinetails and hummingbirds were flitting about in the flowering pepperbushes below the building.  A Bat Falcon perched in a large dead tree near the stream and Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans perched and called out from the branches.  This was all seen as we hauled our luggage to our rooms. We were excited to see what was out there once the real birding started.

Much to our surprise and delight we discovered we had hot (solar) water showers at the dormitory along with clean comfortable rustic rooms with a front porch with hammocks.  The dining area was next to the dormitory and we dined on a balcony with a view of a forested ridge and the stream below.  Howler monkeys serenaded us each morning and evening with their roaring calls.

During the coming week we were to bird the trails around the field station and hike up to the top of the Cerro Pirre ridge camping for two nights and three days at the top to explore the montane and elfin forests with their host of endemic
species.  The trails around Cana are The Mines trail (Sendero de las minas).

The elevation ranges from around 1500 to 1700 feet.  The mines trail begins in brushy second growth habitat and then is mostly older growth secondary forest.  The Boca de Cupe trail (abbreviated to Boca in the bird list) at about 1500 feet elevation for the first two miles has a few sections of older secondary forests but is mostly young secondary growth with several open areas.  The Seteganti trail follows a stream from Cana to the Seteganti River is in mostly secondary young forests at an elevation of 1500 to 1400 feet.  The Pirre trail (Sendero Cerro Pirre ascends the ridge up to the top of Cerro Pirre.  The first couple miles are through transition Palm forest on the lower ridges and up through montane forest at 3200 feet at the camp.  A trail from the camp climbs another 1000 feet for about one mile into elfin forest at the summit of Cerro Pirre at about 4200 feet.  The lookout at the camp is called the miradore. For an excellent description of Cana, the trails and birds to be found see the Ecoventures website.  The weather for the entire week was sunny and hot (daytime highs around 93 degrees F.)  This may have kept the birds from singing and may have reduced activity.

Bird list Cana field station, Cerro Pirre, and trails.

275 species at Cana


TINAMOUS, Tinamidae

 Little Tinamou                            heard only, a few times especially in early AM around Cana

 HERONS, Ardeidae

 Great Egret                               seen from the plane at the marsh S. of Cana

Cocoi/Great Blue Heron              a couple people saw this near the creek by the dining area, a motley unidentifiable creature.


 Black Vulture                             a couple seen on several days mostly over the ridges

Turkey Vulture                           far more numerous than the Black Vultures near Cana

King Vulture                              everyone got good looks at either the miradore on Cerro Pirre or soaring over Cana.


KITES, HAWKS & EAGLES, Accipitridae

 Am. Swallow-tailed Kite              one pair possibly carrying nesting material at Pirre camp.

Plumbeous Kite                         We saw two possibly migratory kettles soaring over the Seteganti River and Cana.

Bicolored Hawk                          Brian saw one 2x near the creek on the Mines trail while bathing off the dust of the Pirre trail.

Semiplumbeous Hawk                The group got great views of an adult on the Boca de Cupe trail.

White Hawk                               4 on the first day on the Mines trail and twice over the ridge.

Common Black-Hawk                 One seen well perched over Sendero (trail) Seteganti.

Great Black-Hawk                      One seen by Brian at the miradore and another seen by the group soaring over the Seteganti River.

Crested Eagle                            Brian saw a huge white eagle fly up and land in a tree on the ridge across form the Miradore.  The entire group                                                           trained scopes on the bird and discerned a white crested head with black cere/beak and long moderately narrow                                                         banded tail.

Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle      Some of the group saw this on the Boca de Cupe trail.

Black hawk-Eagle                      A treat for the whole group flew overhead at Seteganti River.

Ornate Hawk-Eagle                    An adult perched in a tree across from the dining building.


 Red-throated Caracara                After not seeing this, one of the signature species of Cana, all week, three flew across the airstrip moments                                                                 before our Departure!

Laughing Falcon                        One seen on the Seteganti trail by Karl, Jim and Brian

Bat Falcon                                The mascot of Cana, seen everyday perched in the “Toucan Tree”.


 Grey-headed Chachalaca            A few were seen a couple times on the Boca de Cupe trail.

Crested Guan                            A few seen everyday, the closest near Pirre camp.

Great Curassow             A spectacular male crossed the Mines trail in front of the whole group.

QUAIL, Phasianidae

 Marbled Wood-Quail                   Usually poorly seen or just heard but we had a couple good  looks at this species


White-throated Crake                 heard only along the airstrip. 

Gray-necked Wood-Rail              A few of us saw this fly up from the edge of the Seteganti River.

SANDPIPERS, Scolopacidae

 Spotted Sandpiper                     One at the Seteganti River.

 DOVES, Columbridae

Scaled Pigeon                           Doug discovered two of these perched down from the airstrip.

Short-billed Pigeon                     One seen and heard on the Pirre trail.

Ruddy Pigeon                            A couple seen on the Boca trail and Pirre Trail.

Dusky Pigeon                            Ivan heard and found this on the Pirre Trail.

White-tipped Dove                      Very common around the buildings and airstrip at Cana.

Gray-chested Dove                     We had four total sightings of this forest dwelling bird.

Russet-cr Quail-Dove                  heard only, Ivan tried to bring it in on tape, at Elfin Forest.

PARROTS, Psittacidae

 Blue and Yellow Macaw              Seen every day!  Our highest total was 11 on Feb. 3.

Great-Green Macaw                   Usually 2-6 seen every day except on the 4th.

Red-and-Green Macaw               The least common Macaw but seen in pairs at least four times.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw         Seen most days, a pair appeared to be nesting near the dorm.

Orange-chinned Parakeet           Very common.

Brown-hooded Parrot                  Several seen on a few days around Cana.

Saffron-headed Parrot                 One seen feeding with Blue-headeds on Pirre trail by Pat, Karl  Ott Jim and Ivan.

Blue-headed Parrot                    Very common.

Red-lored Parrot             A pair seen at the end of the airstrip spotted by Ivan.

Mealy Parrot                              Quite common, a few seen most every day.

CUCKOOS, Cuculidae

 Squirrel Cuckoo                         Usually one or two a day dashing here and there.

Little Cuckoo                             Only one near the airstrip on the 2nd, and 2 on the 6th.

Smooth-billed Ani                       Often a little herd of these would pop their heads up across from the worker’s building.


 Vermiculated Screech Owl          Ivan played the recorded call and Brian tried first with Doug eventually luring the bird up to the Miradore.  After a heroic effort Ivan found it in the forest and everyone got a good look and some photos.

Crested Owl                              Karl Overman and Jim Lesser found a pair roosting on the Mines trail that everyone got a good look at.

Spectacled Owl                         Brian found one roosting next to the Seteganti trail that all saw.

Central American Pygmy-Owl     heard only both nights, at Pirre camp.

Mottled Owl                               sleepless Brian heard one the first night at Pirre camp.

NIGHTJARS, Caprimulidae

Pauraque                                  common around airstrip and dormitory, very approachable but had to be discouraged from calling next to our sleeping quarters!

 POTOOS, Nyctibidae

 Common Potoo                          everyone saw this most exciting lump on a stick on the Boca trail.

 SWIFTS, Apodidae

 White-collared Swift                   large flocks were often seen high overhead in late afternoon.

Band-rumped Swift                     a couple seen most days

Short-tailed Swift                        2 near the buildings one afternoon only seen by Ivan and Brian

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift         2 seen on the first day only


 Stripe-throated Hermit                three sightings along the trails

Green Hermit                             good view on the Mines trail and seen a few other times

Long-tailed Hermit                      The ringing leks of this bird were active even in the heat of the day mostly on the Boca de Cupe trail, often hard to see.

Rufous-breasted Hermit              Karl Overman saw one on the Mines trail

Green-fronted Lancebill               One near the Pirre Camp

White-necked Jacobin                a few seen usually on the Mines trail

Black-throated Mango                one or two seen a few times mostly on the trails

Rufous-crested Coquette            Ivan found a male that Brian got to see well on the Mines trailthen another female was seen by all on the Seteganti trail.

Green-crowned Woodnymph       one seen on the Pirre Trail

Violet-bellied Hummingbird          seen twice in the Pepperbushes near the buildings

Rufous-cheeked (Pirre) Hummingbird          Most of us saw it but it was a very active bird usually zipping around the “hot-lips” plants and not perching.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird         usually seen daily in the pepperbushes

White-vented Plumeleteer           several were often seen on the Mines trail

Greenish Puffleg                        the most common hummingbird around Pirre camp and in the Elfin forest.

Purple-crowned Fairy                  a common sight buzzing up and down along the sides of large trees.

Long-billed Starthroat                 One on the Mines trail and one on the Seteganti trail, a dashing bird!

TROGONS, Trogonidae

White-tailed Trogon                    4 sightings of this bird along the trails

Violaceous Trogon                     several sightings and this seemed to be a very vocal species

Collared Trogon                          seen by a couple members of the group on the Pirre trail

Black-throated Trogon                Seen by Doug and Brian on the way up and others on the way down from Pirre camp

Slaty-tailed Trogon                     2 sightings both on Pirre trail

Golden-headed Quetzal          Karl Ott found this on a lone sojourn up to the top of Cerro Pirre

Tody Motmot                             Karl Ott found this also but with Brian and Doug on the Mines Trail.  Doug ran back and fetched the group and                                                         all got to see this Yoda like bird.

Rufous Motmot                          Brian heard one on the Seteganti trail, never seen.

Broad-billed Motmot                   One on the mines trail

KINGFISHERS, Alcedinidae

Amazon Kingfisher                     Ogled by all at the Seteganti River

PUFFBIRDS, Bucconidae

 Barred Puffbird                           Usually one around in the Cecropias near the airstrip

Pied Puffbird                              A pair seen twice on the Boca trail and once on the Pirre trail

White-whiskered Puffbird            2 seen the first day on the Mines trail, none after

Gray-cheeked Nunlet                  one on the Boca trail and one on the Seteganti trail

White-fronted Nunbird                 We had three with excellent views at the Mines trail the first day

                                                            but only one other sighting on the Boca trail afterwards

JACAMARS, Galbulidae

 Dusky-backed Jacamar              Doug found one just when we were thinking we could miss it on the Boca trail and another was seen  on the 6th on the Seteganti trail

Great Jacamar               This is a great Jacamar, with incredible iridescence, 4 close views, most on the Boca trail and once on the Seteganti trail.

BARBETS, Capitonidae

Spot-crowned Barbet                  We were fortunate is seeing at least a pair of these each day.

Red-headed Barbet                    Several seen only near Pirre camp at high elevation

TOUCANS, Ramphastidae

 Violet-throated Toucanet             Recently, split from Emerald Toucanet this is the species of Darien, Panama and northern Columbia seen at Pirre camp.

Collared Aracari                         Usually 2-3 seen each day on the low elevation trails

Yellow-eared Toucanet               Ivan somehow found 2 of these at a distance on the Pirre trail and we all enjoyed scope views

Keel-billed Toucan                      several seen on most outings except in the elfin forest, several would call during our breakfast in the “Toucan Tree” and we had  17 in the tree on one morning!

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan        usually 2-3 seen each day often in the Toucan Tree


 Olivaceous Piculet                     Pat found the first one and a few more were seen mostly on the Mines trail

Black-cheeked Woodpecker       The most common woodpecker, often at nesting holes.

Red-rumped Woodpecker           several sightings on low elevation trails

Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker       Only one sighting on the Pirre trail

Spot-breasted Woodpecker         one was found a few times on the Seteganti trail

Cinnamon Woodpecker              one on the Mines trail on Feb. 1st and one on the Boca the 6th

Lineated Woodpecker                 most frequently seen big woodpecker, nearly every day

Crimson-crested Woodpecker     a pair seen on the Boca trail and a pair on the Seteganti


 Slaty Spinetail                        numerous around the airstrip and building but like most spinetails 

                                                tough to see, but we all managed at least one good look

Double-banded Graytail              One of the prize birds of Cana found by Karl Overman but it flew before anyone else could get a look

Beautiful Treerunner                   another prize bird, seen by Brian and Doug at the elfin forest and the next day by Karl Overman and Jim

Lineated Foliage-gleaner               three sightings of 5 birds on the Pirre trail

Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner       sharply marked for a foliage-gleaner, seen a few times on low elevation trails          

Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner       4 sightings on the Pirre, Mines, and Boca trail

Plain Xenops                             this nuthatch of the tropics seen on 5 of 7 days

Streaked Xenops                        three sightings surprisingly two of them at lower elevation

WOODCREEPERS, Dendrocolaptidae

 Plain-brown Woodcreeper           1-2 seen every day

Olivaceous Woodcreeper            only two sightings

 Wedge-billed Woodcreeper         only time was on the Seteganti trail

Barred Woodcreeper                  we saw 3 of these handsome birds at the ant swarm at Pirre trail

Cocoa Woodcreeper                   One on the Mines trail our first day

Black-striped Woodcreeper         a great looking Woodcreeper, seen only on two occasions

Spotted Woodcreeper                 seen a few times on the Pirre trail

Streak-headed Woodcreeper       seemed to be the most common Woodcreeper

Red-billed Scythebill                   Pat and Doug saw a Scythebill on the Seteganti only briefly, most probably this species, we all tried hard to find it again without luck

ANTBIRDS. Thamnophillidae

 Fasciated Antshrike                   we saw a pair on the Boca trail and one on the Pirre trail

Great Antshrike                         Brian had a heard only near the airstrip that couldn’t be lured in to view.

W. Slaty Antshrike                     Fairly common on most forested trails

Russet Antshrike                       2 on Pirre trail and 1 on the Mines trail

Plain Antvireo                            a few about the Pirre camp forest

Pygmy Antwren                         cool bird, 2 on Mines trail and a close excellent view on the Boca

Streaked Antwren                      a female often seen near the dining bldg. and males seen in the forest

Checker-throated Antwren           several sightings on the lowland trails

White-flanked Antwren                a pair seen a couple of times on the Boca de Cupe Trail

Slaty Antwren                            three trail sightings

Rufous-winged Antwren              one seen well in a canopy flock on the Mines trail

Dot-winged Antwren                   fairly common on forest trails

Rufous-rumped Antwren              Karl Overman and Jim saw one on the Pirre trail

Dusky Antbird                            only one seen on the Seteganti trail

Jet Antbird                                 tough to see but all saw at least a couple times by the airstrip

Chestnut-backed Antbird            seen twice on the Boca trail and once on the Seteganti trail

Immaculate Antbird                    2 seen at the ant swarm on the Pirre trail

Spotted Antbird                          individuals seen 3x, Brian had one next to his foot!

Wing-banded Antbird                  one seen shoveling leaves in the forest near the latrine at Pirre

Bicolored Antbird                       about three sightings mostly of pairs

Ocellated Antbird                       one only, but a wonderful “burning ember” male at the ant swarm on the Pirre trail

Black-faced Antthrush                2 seen well on the Pirre trail on the way up but others heard only

 Rufous-breasted Antthrush          a couple of us had a good view of these on the Boca trail

Fulvous-bellied Antpitta               We heard these several times without seeing one

TAPACULOS, Rhinocryptidae

Tapaculo sp.                              Brian had a good head-on view of either a Narino or Choco Tapaculo above the Pirre camp.


 Paltry Tyrannulet                        seen at least a couple times, w/nest material on Boca trail

Brown-capped Tyrannulet            seen a couple times on the Mines trail and Boca trail

Gray Elaenia                             Ivan and Brian had one on the Boca trail

Yellow-bellied Elaenia                 a few sightings, once near the dormitory

Olive-stripped Flycatcher            4 sightings on the Boca, Pirre and Mines trail

Slaty-capped Flycatcher             seen by Karl Overman on the Pirre trail

Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant       fairly common especially near Pirre camp

Southern Bentbill                       a few of us had good looks on the Boca trail, 3 sightings

Common Tody-flycatcher            seen three times on lowland trails

Black-headed Tody-flycatcher     all had a great view of one on the Mines trail

Brownish Flycatcher (Twistwing) at least two good studies of this whiskered fellow

Eye-ringed Flatbill                      Karl Overman saw one on the Pirre trail

Olivaceous Flatbill                      seen by a few of us one early afternoon on the Mines trail

Yellow-margined Flycatcher        Ivan, Karl Ott, and Brian saw one on the Boca trail

Golden-crowned Spadebill           Brian saw one in a mixed species flock on the Mines trail

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher              a “dirt” bird for everyone except Brian who missed each of the several sightings..arrgh!

Sulpher-rumped Flycatcher         seen almost every day on the lowland trails

Black-tailed Flycatcher               fewer than the above but everyone saw at least a few

Olive-sided Flycatcher                one seen on a distant snag on the Boca trail on the 2nd and 7th

Acadian Flycatcher                    seen 2x by Doug and Brian

Long-tailed Tyrant                      This bird seemed so “South American” was seen almost daily on the edges along the lowland trails

Bright-rumped Attila                   Karl Ott saw one on the Mines trail, the rest of us had heard only

Rufous Mourner                         seen by part of the group on the Pirre trail

Dusky-capped Flycatcher           One of these sad birds were usually seen and heard on the trail each day

Rusty-margined Flycatcher         Seen around the buildings

Gray-capped Flycatcher             seen on the Boca trail and Seteganti River

Streaked Flycatcher                   seen almost every day on the lowland trails favoring a perch in the Cecropia trees

Piratic Flycatcher                       seemed to get more common later in the week, lowland trails

Tropical Kingbird                        always a few keeping us company around the buildings

Thrush-like Shiffornis                  1 very brown Manakin like bird on two days above the camp

Cinereous Becard                      seen by some of the group on the 2nd

Cinnamon Becard                      several lowland trail sightings

White-winged Becard                 1 male on the Boca trail seen by Brian

One-colored Becard                   a few sightings including a pair nest-building on the Seteganti

Masked Tityra                            a couple seen nearly every day on low trails

Black-crowned Tityra                  one on the 6th and one on the 7th

COTINGAS, Cotingidae

 Rufous Piha                               a couple seen on the Mines and Pirre trail

Blue Cotinga                              a couple seen and some were lucky enough to see a male

Black-tipped Cotinga                  The “Snowy Owl” of Cana, seen twice on the ridge above the airstrip

Purple-throated Fruitcrow            seemed to like hanging out in the forest of the Mines trail

MANAKINS, Pipridae

 Green Manakin                          one exceedingly cooperative individual on the Mines trail, bird had manakin jizz, yellow belly, hint of eye ring, longer tailed than other manakins

Golden-colored Manakin             several on the Boca trail and a lek of at least 7 on the Mines trail

White-ruffed Manakin                  the most common manakin on the higher elevation Pirre trail

Blue-crowned Manakin               a few were seen on the Mines trail

Golden-headed Manakin             several seen on the Mines trail

SHARPBILLS, Oxyruncidae

 Sharpbill                                    One found by Ivan on the Mines trail and seen by Brian then the entire group was able to see and hear the eerie buzz saw call of this unique bird around the Pirre camp

SWALLOWS, Hirundinidae

 White-thighed Swallow               several were usually cruising and perching near the airstrip

Southern Rough-winged Swallow        Several liked the area around the creek and the buildings

JAYS, Corvidae

Black-chested Jay                     Usually 3 or 4 seen on the trails, seemed especially numerous on the Seteganti Trail

WRENS, Troglodytidae

White-headed Wren                   A couple of these huge wrens were near the dining building and at the start of the Seteganti trail but everyone had their best looks near the Miradore at Pirre camp

Sooty-headed Wren                   Karl Overman and Jim saw one on the Mines trail

Black-bellied Wren                     Everyone saw two on the Boca trail

Bay Wren                                  2 on the Mines trail and another on the Boca trail

Stripe-throated Wren                  only 1, on the Mines trail

Ochraceous Wren                      a couple of these were seen up on the Pirre ridge

White-breasted Wood Wren        quite common, usually several seen on the low trails

Gray-breasted Wood Wren         seen in the Elfin forest and near Pirre camp

Southern Nightingale Wren         some of the group had this on the first day on the Mines trail

Song Wren      Brian had a great view of one on the Pirre trail


 Tawny-faced Gnatwren               one on the Mines trail and one on the Boca trail

Slate-throated Gnatcatcher         Karl Overman had one on the start of the Pirre trail

Varied Solitaire                          We all heard and had great looks at this mountain top songster at the end of the Pirre trail in the elfin forest

Slaty-backed Nightingale-           Fairly common around Pirre camp and at the top of Pirre but not

Thrush                                      always easy to see.

Swainson’s Thrush                     one on the mining trail the first day

Pale-vented Robin                      one seen on the way up on Pirre trail

Clay-colored Robin                     one was seen around the buildings on the last couple days

White-throated Thrush (Robin)     a few were seen, once on the Mines, Boca, and Seteganti

VIREOS, Vireonidae

Yellow-throated Vireo                 one seen on the Mines trail, we “dipped” on Red-eyed Vireo, supposedly a common bird at Cana

Lesser Greenlet                         a couple seen on the Mines and Pirre trail

EMBERIZIDS, Emberizidae

Golden-winged Warbler               one on the Boca de Cupe trail

Tennessee Warbler                    one also on the Boca trail

Tropical Parula                           a couple seen on the Mines trail

Blackburnian Warbler                 a few seen near Pirre camp

Bay-breasted Warbler                 probably the most common “snowbird” warbler, usually a couple seen each day on the lowland trails

Black&White Warbler                 4 sightings on lowland trails

American Redstart                     2 sightings on the Pirre Trail

Prothonotary Warbler                 one in the Erythinia tree near the buildings

Northern Waterthrush                 one at the Seteganti River

Mourning Warbler                       the second most common warbler at lowland trails

Slate-throated Redstart               several seen each day at the higher elevations

Pirre Warbler                             Doug and Brian saw a group of 5-6 in a flock on the 3rd, and

                                                They were seen again on the 4th but missed by some, elfin forest

Buff-rumped Warbler                   a couple at the creek on the Mines trail and by the creek on the Seteganti trail

Bananaquit                                several were seen some low in the Pepperbushes by the buildings but several were high up in the flowering tree tops

White-eared Conebill                  Karl Overman found this prize in the Erythinia tree near the dorm on our next to last day and we were all treated to scope views

Plain-colored Tanager                 a few seen, mostly on the Boca and Mines trail, not too plain!

Gray-and-Gold Tanager               One seen on the Pirre Trail above the camp

Silver-throated Tanager               seen on two days above the camp, three in one flock in the elfin forest

Speckled Tanager                      3-4 seen each day around Pirre camp

Bay-headed Tanager                  1-3 seen each day on the lowland trails

Green-naped Tanager                 several good looks while at Pirre camp and in the elfin forest, we even saw the iridescent green nape

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis               a couple seen on the Boca trail, usually in Erythinia trees

Blue Dacnis                               1-2 seen daily in the canopy of lowland trails and “      .

Green Honeycreeper                  fairly common several (up to 6) along lowland trails

Shining/Purple Honeycreeper      saw one of these species on the Mines trail

Thick-billed Euphonia                 Overman had one on the Seteganti trail

Fulvous-vented Euphonia            a few of us had great looks at one dangling on a vine on the Pirre trail

White-vented Euphonia               one near the old mine entrance on the Mines trail

Orange-bellied Euphonia             one or two seen near the Pirre camp

Blue-gray Tanager                      common in open areas

Palm Tanager                            common around the buildings and open areas

Lemon-spectacled Tanager         A few seen on the Mines trail and lower elevations of the Pirre trail

Scarlet-browed Tanager              a couple were seen by most of the group on the Mines trail and one on the Boca de Cupe trail

White-shouldered Tanager          fairly common in forest of lowland trails

Summer Tanager                       one or two seen daily on all trails

Crimson-backed Tanager            several seen most days except at the high elevations

Flame-rumped Tanager               one of the most common edge birds at Cana

Dusky-faced Tanager                  one of the tanagers that looks much better than its illustration

                                                Seen several times on the Mines and once on the Seteganti

Common Bush-Tanager              Going out on the limb here, but Doug and Brian had an excellent look at this on the Pirre trail above the camp, brownish head, grey throat, olive-brown back, yellow chest and belly with the distinctive white post-ocular spot and dark eye. It’s not supposed to be anywhere near Cana.

Pirre Bush-Tanager                    very common from the Pirre camp up to the elfin forest

Black-and-Yellow Tanager           one at the elfin forest on Cerro Pirre, a bold looking bird

Swallow Tanager                        common but enjoyable to see in Erythinia trees about the buildings and in open areas on the trails.

Buff-throated Saltator                  this was the only one we saw, several seen each day

Slate-colored Grosbeak              2 on the Pirre trail and one on the Mines trail

Yellow-green Grosbeak               Brian and Doug saw just one at the elfin forest on Pirre

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch     common but sporadic in their appearances around the high Pirre camp

Orange-billed Sparrow                fairly common along the lowland forest trails

Variable Seedeater                     There were always flocks scattering from the edges of the airstrip

Shiny Cowbird                           a few were seen near the buildings

Giant Cowbird                            a small herd often grazed at the end of the airstrip

Yellow-backed Oriole                  one seen on the Boca de Cupe trail

Yellow-tailed Oriole                    a couple on the Boca trail and at edge of the end of the airstrip

Baltimore Oriole                         several on the Mines trail and the Boca trail

Yellow-billed Cacique                 pairs seen along the edges of the airstrip and Seteganti trail

Scarlet-rumped Cacique             a couple on the Mines and Boca trail

Yellow-rumped Cacique              a few on the Mines and Boca trail

Crested Oropendula                   Despite Ridgely’s guide saying this is more common in the

                                                    Darien I had only one record of this bird for the group, a larger black-headed bird seen with some Chestnut-headeds on the Mines trail

Chestnut-headed Oropendula      If not the most common bird, the most noticeable (and loud) bird at all lowland areas near Cana. A tree full of nests was adjacent to the dining building.

A couple notes about health and safety at Cana.  First we did not have to filter our drinking water, it was treated and no one experienced any problems with it.   We all had malarial prophylaxis but according to the people there, it is not
necessary as the closest malaria cases were hundreds of miles away in Columbia (you’ll have to decide this with your doctor.)  Many of us were wishing we didn’t have to take the Malarone or other medications that destroyed our sleep cycle.  As with other neotropical forests I have experienced, there were almost no biting insects.  A couple of us were bit once by some large fly.  I don’t remember anyone having any problems with mosquitoes even during our evening dinners outdoors.  We all tucked our pants in our socks and sprayed Deet on to help prevent tick and chigger bites.  Most of us had a couple ticks on
us that were easy to remove, one of the group had dozens of them on him after climbing the Pirre trail but they all came off with a spray.  At the end of the trip our chigger experiences were varied.  A couple of us had dozens of chigger bites, mostly around the ankles even despite the use of spray.  Most of us had a few to a dozen or so that itched comparably to swimmer’s itch for a few weeks.  In no way did these annoyances detract from our enthusiasm for the birding here.

During our last moments at Cana we reluctantly boarded the plane to return to Panama City.  We flew out over the forests and lagoons at the end of the airstrip picked up Common Egret for our Cana List.  We flew up the middle of the Isthmus over the amazingly extensive forest.  On the way back we could see Embera Indian settlements with thatched roofed shelters below us, and Ancon Expedition’s Punta Patino Lodge, where the Harpy Eagle nests.

Metropolitan Nature Park, Feb. 7th PM

After a safe flight back to Albrook and freshening up at the Hotel we joined Ivan for a short trip to the Metropolitan Nature Park for some afternoon birding.  I had pictured soccer fields, barren open spaces, and venders with few birds but was
pleasantly surprised.  Here within five or ten minutes from the center of the city we were walking down the trail in dry 700 acre Pacific-slope forest with impressively large trees such as the “Beer-Belly tree”.  It was still very hot but the birds were becoming active.  Highlights were a pair of Green Shrike-Vireos found by Doug, a close but fleeting look at a Lance-tailed Manakin, a very cool Long-billed-Gnatwren at close range.  Tree sloths were a bonus to see since we had not seen them at Cana. Best of all was the moment just before having to end our day without the wanted Rosy-Thrush Tanager.  We were resigned to leaving the park when Ivan signaled us that he had the bird!  We all crouched low and had great looks at this stripe-headed, exceedingly cool bird!  It was like a last second three point shot in overtime!  Thanks Ivan!

Bird list Metropolitan Nature Park (4:00-6:30PM)

Black Vulture                            Yellow-bellied Elaenia        White-should. Tanager
Turkey Vulture                         Great Crested Flycatcher     Red-th. Ant Tanager
Peregrine Falcon                      Social Flycatcher                   Summer Tanager
Gray-headed Kite                    Lance-tailed Manakin           Crimson-b Tanager
Ruddy-ground Dove                 Rufous-breasted Wren        Rosy Thrush-Tanager
White-tipped Dove                    Rufous-and-White Wren     Buff-th. Saltator
Orange-chinned Parakeet        Long-billed Gnatwren (2)   
Blue-headed Parrot                  Tropical Gnatcatcher
Squirrel Cuckoo                       Clay-colored Robin
Black-throated Mango              Red-eyed Vireo
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird     Golden-fronted Greenlet
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird        Green Shrike-Vireo (2)
Keel-billed Toucan                      Black-and-White Warbler
Black-cheeked Woodpecker       Golden-Masked Tanager
Red-crowned Woodpecker        Blue Dacnis
Plain-brown Woodcreeper        Green Honeycreeper
Western Slaty Antshrike            Blue-Gray Tanager
White-flanked Antwren            Gray-headed Tanager

After the birding we celebrated with a dinner at the Pomodoro downtown in the El Cangrejo area, an outdoor atrium between towering buildings but with the ambience of rustling palms, balmy air and excellent food.  We felt safe walking back to the hotel at night, there were quite a few people out at the restaurants and shops.  We had better rooms this time at the Hotel Marbella but the incessant honking of taxis made it difficult to sleep for at least one of us.

Juan Diaz Mangroves, Costa del Este, and Panama Viejo, Feb. 8th

We woke early on this last day in Panama and skipped breakfast at the hotel to get an early start at Juan Diaz.  Ivan and his brother picked us up in an air-conditioned mini-bus and we were off to Juan Diaz Mangroves near the Tocumen Airport.  Ivan brought some delightful breakfast pastries and juice so we were all set to bird. There was a police gate at the entrance to the dirt road that Ivan had to negotiate to get through.  Once past the gate we drove down the road through what looked like pastures with fencerows and some patches of mangroves.  The place was incredibly birdy.  We had a Black-striped Sparrow singing when we first stopped and there were Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters everywhere in the fencerows.  We saw flocks of Muscovy Ducks as well as other highlight birds like the Mangrove Black-Hawk, Yellow-crowned Parrot, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, White-necked Puffbird, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, and Panama Flycatchers.  I will never forget the swarms of Scaly-breasted, Sapphire-throated and Black Mango Hummingbirds in the rows of Erythina trees and the seemingly thousands of Black and Turkey Vultures along with a few other Caracaras and hawks.  There were no mosquitoes or biting flies at Juan Diaz or any of the following sites on this last day.

Juan Diaz Mangroves bird list  (7:00 AM until 10:30 AM)

Brown Pelican                White-necked Puffbird        Golden-fr. Greenlet
Neotropic Cormorant            Red-crowned Woodpecker    Mangrove (Y) Warbler
Great Blue Heron            Straight-billed Woodcreeper    Tennessee Warbler
                                                                                                    Prothonotary Warbler
Great Egret                                 Barred Antshrike                        CommonYellowthroat
Snowy Egret                               Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet       Bananaquit
Cattle Egret                                Yellow-bellied Elaenia                 Plain-colored Tanager
Black-crowned Night Heron        Southern Beardless Tyrannulet    Y-crowned Euphonia
Muscovy Duck                             Yellow-margined Flycatcher    Blue-Gray Tanager
Black Vulture                             Panama Flycatcher                    Palm Tanager
Turkey Vulture                           Social Flycatcher                        Red-th. Ant Tanager
Osprey                                     Streaked Flycatcher                     Crimson-b Tanager
Mangrove Black-Hawk            Great Kiskadee                           Black-striped Sparrow
Yellow-headed Caracara          Tropical Kingbird                       Blue-black Grassquit
Pale-vented Pigeon                   Lance-tailed Manakin                 Variable Seedeater
Ruddy Ground-Dove                House Wren                                Ruddy-br. Seedeater
Yellow-crowned Parrot            Wren sp.                                      Thick-billed Seedfinch
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird     Tropical Gnatcatcher                   Orchard Oriole
Black-throated Mango               Clay-colored Robin       
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird   Yellow-green Vireo
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird        Greenlet (Scrub?) sp.

We left Juan Diaz just as it was getting very hot and the vultures were soaring overhead by the hundreds.  It was a relief to board the mini-bus.  We drove over to a new development that Ivan said was the best area to see shorebirds and the

Southern Lapwing, which was a target bird for some of us.  We crossed a bridge over the Rio Matais Hernandez in Costa del Este and stopped to check out the huge flock of Black-necked Stilts and other shorebirds.  Here we found 6 Southern Lapwings with about 80 Black-necked Stilts and Cocoi Heron.  We then drove over to the shore but the tide was way out and the mudflats were huge.  Most of the shorebirds were quite a ways out and none of us felt like trudging through the muck in 95 degree weather.  We probably missed Collared Plover and the terns because of this.  We decided to head over to Panama Viejo to check the ruins and a few other mudflats.  Ivan said Panama Viejo was one of the best spots to see Saffron Finch but we missed it possibly due to the late hour.  We picked up a few more shorebirds and had nice looks at some Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets and Crested Caracaras in the trees around the ruins.

As the birding was slow here in the heat we sought out the shelter of the tourist shops next to the ruins park and loaded up on gifts for those that missed out at home.  A short diversion to Nico’s for some lunch and then off to the airport for a late plane ride home to the cold and snow of Michigan.  Some of us are already looking over the Panama map for our next trip.

Bird list for Costa del Este and Panama Viejo  (10:45 AM until 11:45 AM)

Brown Pelican                   Southern Lapwing         Social Flycatcher
Neotropic Cormorant        Black-necked Stilt        Tropical Kingbird
Magnificent Frigatebird      Greater Yellowlegs      Clay-colored Robin
Great Blue Heron               Lesser Yellowlegs        Tropical Mockingbird
Cocoi Heron                     Willet                            Tennessee Warbler
Great Egret                       Whimbrel                      Blue-Gray Tanager
Snowy Egret                     Least Sandpiper            Great-tailed Grackle
Cattle Egret                        Pectoral Sandpiper        Orchard Oriole
Tricolored Heron               Short-billed Dowitcher       
Green-backed Heron        Laughing Gull
Yellow-crowned Night Heron    Rock Pigeon
White Ibis                       Pale-vented Pigeon
Blue-winged Teal             Ruddy Ground-Dove   
Black Vulture                  White-tipped Dove
Turkey Vulture                Black-throated Mango
Osprey                           Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Crested Caracara           Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Purple Gallinule               Great Kiskadee

Trip total about 357 species for the group  Includes, Cana, Pipeline Rd, Ammo Ponds, Juan Diaz Mangroves, Metropolitan Nature Park, Costa del Este and Panama Viejo. From Jan. 31 through noon on February 8th.

Brian Allen
5539 Bar Lake Rd.
Manistee, MI 49660

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