Canopy Tower birding

The birding portion of our trip to Panama was coming to a close and we finished our final day by visiting Canopy Tower—a former radar tower built by the US in 1965 to defend and protect the Panama Canal. Canopy Tower isn’t just a tower to observe birds, but also provides unique lodging that caters to birders, with trips guided by some of the best birders in Panama.

Typically, you have to be a guest at one of the Canopy Tower properties to visit the Canopy Tower. It helps that we have stayed at their properties twice (The Canopy B&B on our first trip to Panama and then the Canopy Lodge during our second trip to Panama) and since they were “in between” guest departures and arrivals over the weekend,  when owner Raul Aria de Para found out we were in town he invited us to swing by.


Canopy Tower

A peaceful afternoon

Remember? My morning was spent being stung and harassed by killer bees, but there were no bees to be found here. Only slight breezes swept by our faces as we did light afternoon birding atop the green canopy.

Canopy Tower view Panama

The view from the tower.

It was afternoon, after all, so most birds were taking a siesta. But here’s a Thick-billed Euphonia giving it all he’s got as if he were Pavarotti.

Thick-billed Euphonia Panama

Thick-billed Euphonia

And tell me, is this the most gorgeous bird you’ve ever seen? One day I will wear a dress that’s the same shade of green as this Green Honeycreeper. It’s as though he’s wearing tafetta—so bright and shiny! (If only he had turned so we could see his face!)

Green Honeycreeper Panama

Green Honeycreeper

Speaking of afternoon siestas….

Top of Canopy Tower

This is how Steve going birding in the afternoon

There were vultures around, taking a break in the afternoon, as birds do. I shall never tire of taking photos of vultures. They’re special, necessary birds for our planet. We should worship them.

Black vulture Canopy Tower

Black Vulture

Just because you drank too much coffee in the morning or water during the day doesn’t mean you have to miss the birds. The Tower’s amenities are such that you don’t have to miss a single second of birding. Even when using the wash room.

Canopy Tower bathroom

Room with a view.


As we were leaving the Canopy Tower, there was this sweet sloth dining away right above our heads. This trip has just been full of sloths and was a perfect way to end our birding adventures on this, our third trip to Panama.

Sloth at Canopy Tower

Sloth at Canopy Tower

But the most difficult is always saying goodbye to our friend and guide, Beny Wilson. You can’t tell, but my eyes are a little misty under those sunglasses.

Beny Wilson Panama Bird Guide

I always hate saying “goodbye” to our good friend, Beny.

Goodbye, Panama City.

Panama City in the distance

Zooming in to see Panama City in the distance.

Footnote on turning 50

This trip was how I celebrated turning 50. We spent three days birding (plus one day hanging out at the Westin Playa Bonita pool and at the spa getting massages) and then we spent the last three days of our trip over at the Pearl Islands on Isla Contadora. I couldn’t think of a better country to visit for my 50th birthday.

Video and our bird list below

I’ll leave you with this video of the Long-billed Hermit who was visiting the feeders at the Canopy Tower. Strangely, the video somehow slowed the wing beat of the hummingbird. At first I thought my iPhone had recorded in slo-mo, but that’s not the case if you look at the foilage fluttering in the breeze at a normal rate.

Bird list for our afternoon at Canopy Tower 

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. White-tailed Kite
  4. Swallow-tailed Kite
  5. Mississippi Kite
  6. Plumbeous Kite
  7. Short-tailed Hawk
  8. Chimney Swift
  9. Band-rumped Swift
  10. White-necked Jacobin
  11. Long-billed Hermit
  12. Blue-chested Hummingbird
  13. Broad-billed Motmot
  14. Mealy Parrot
  15. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  16. Barn Swallow
  17. Tropical Gnatcatcher
  18. Blue-gray Tanager
  19. Plain-colored Tanager
  20. Green Honeycreeper
  21. Thick-billed Euphonia
  22. Fulvous-vented Euphonia