Bird Watching Galore in Panama

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

As the southernmost country of Central America, connecting the North American and South American continents, the Republic of Panama is located on an isthmus with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Panama boasts many places of natural beauty that attract tourists from all over the world, and is home to around 950 species of birds, making bird watching in Panama an exciting experience.

Panama has a large variety of habitats that are easily accessible, making it an excellent choice as an introduction to the birds found in the American tropics. Of the roughly 950 species of birds found in Panama, some 150 are neotropical migrants, visiting the country between September and April. Twelve of Panama’s bird species are endemic, including the Azuero Parakeet, Yellow-green Finch, Pirre Bush-Tanager, Brown-backed Dove, Escudo Hummingbird, Glow-throated Hummingbird and Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker. Moreover, another 64 species are endemic to Panama and its neighbor, Costa Rica, while nine endangered species can be found in Panama.

Considered to be Panama’s leading eco-tourism lodge, the Canopy Tower Eco-lodge and Nature Observatory on Semaphore Hill in Soberania National Park offers an incredible view of the surrounding jungle and the Panama Canal, as well as the opportunity of seeing more than 200 species of birds right from your bedroom window. The tower was originally built in 1965 by the United States military as a lookout and defense facility for the Panama Canal. It was later abandoned, until enterprising entrepreneur Raul Arias de Para discovered it, realized its potential and set about converting it into a one-of-a-kind eco-friendly lodge.

The Chiriqui Highlands in Panama consist of primeval rainforests, with tumbling streams, volcanic peaks, exquisite flora and an amazing variety of birds. The bi-national park of La Amistad, stretching over from Panama into Costa Rica, has been declared as a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Birders visiting La Amistad can expect to see birds from both continents, as this is where flora and fauna from South and North America reach the highest level of species mix. The El Chorogo Refuge is a significant bird conservation area in Panama, which is home to the endangered Great Tinamou, Crested Guan and Great Currasow, as well as nine of Panama’s twelve endemic species. It also serves as a critical stopover for neotropical migrants including the Baltimore Oriole and the Golden-winged Warbler.

With no less than thirteen national parks and birding hotspots offering a wide range of habitats, there is no doubt that bird-watching in Panama, the beautiful country where the sun rises over the Pacific and sets in the Caribbean, can be a richly rewarding experience.

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