Napo Wildlife Center’s Canopy Tower

Along with the parrot clay licks, a visit to the canopy tower will be a highlight of your trip to Napo Wildlife Center.  Our visit which was pretty typical involved the usual 5am wake up call (I set my alarm for 4am otherwise I couldn’t eat breakfast so early), a breakfast buffet, then off in the paddleboat across the lake.  From there it’s about half a kilometer to the canopy tower through thick rainforest habitat.  It’s really exciting to get our first glimpse of the tower!

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It’s a long slog up the stairs to the top.DSCN1790 DSCN1796

The view is awesome!  We were lucky our guide had a scope as many of the birds were at quite a distance.  I struggled to find them with my own camera even after the guide had them in the scope.DSCN1733 DSCN1714

Let’s start with some mammals, here’s a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth who was there for our whole visit.DSCN1726 DSCN1721a DSCN1756a DSCN1858a

Howler MonkeysIMG_3928a DSCN1735a

Plumbeous PigeonDSCN1718a

Slate-coloured HawkDSCN1731a

White-thoated ToucanDSCN1737a DSCN1739a IMG_3942a

Many-banded AracariIMG_4085a DSCN1748a DSCN1752a DSCN1833a DSCN1835a DSCN1837a

Russet-backed OropendulaDSCN1803a

Crimson-crested WoodpeckerDSCN1767a IMG_3975a

Those tiny specs are Cobalt-winged Parakeets.  I told them to come to the clay lick tomorrow and bring all their friends!IMG_3967

Scarlet MacawsIMG_3995a IMG_4000a

White HawkIMG_4055a IMG_3945 IMG_3943a DSCN1820

Orange-winged Amazon ParrotsIMG_3947a

Look closely, what could that tiny blue speck be?


Maybe a Plum-throated Cotinga?



Or a Spangled Cotinga?DSCN1802

I called this the “Cotinga Tree” because we had both Spangled Cotingas and Plum-throated Cotingas showing up there.IMG_4025a IMG_3992a IMG_4070a IMG_4066a IMG_4064a IMG_4060a DSCN1809a DSCN1804a DSCN1843 DSCN1843a

This White Hawk was pretty far away and a good spot by our guide.DSCN1846a

This Squirrel Cuckoo was pretty close.IMG_4088a

And this shows why you need a really good guide with a really good scope.  Do you see anything in this unedited photo?IMG_4033

What if I zoom in and crop out the cute little Black-headed Parrot (Caique)?IMG_4033a IMG_4040a IMG_4050a DSCN1840 DSCN1840a DSCN1868

I practically had to be dragged off the tower kicking and screaming as the birding was so awesome!  Back down on the ground, we had a leisurely walk back to the paddleboat.DSCN1877

Tiny frogDSCN1878

Cool looking tree, forgot what it’s called.IMG_4094

Poor tired husband!IMG_4104

This little Wire-tailed Manakin led me on a merry chase as he wouldn’t stand still for a photo!IMG_4101a DSCN1875 DSCN1876a

Hah, gotcha!  And with that, we went back to the lodge for lunch!


Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus derbianus)

The Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus derbianus) is a South American species of bird in the Ramphastidae family. It occurs in humid highland forests along the east Andean slope from southernmost Colombia to Bolivia.

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They can be found in the very southern part of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia.  They are fairly common in the Mindo area and I saw this one at the Mirador Restaurant near Milpe Sanctuary.





Neotropical Birds


There wasn’t much on video of this bird but I did find one of the general area that includes the Toucanet at 11:08.  The mist gives you an idea of the weather I was dealing with during our trip.



Cuvier’s Toucan (Ramphastos cuvieri)

Some of my resources listed below consider the Cuvier’s Toucan (Ramphastos cuvieri) to be a species on it’s own and some consider it to be a subspecies of the White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus).


Here’s a close up from Wikipedia.


This beautiful toucan has a large range in South America in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia & Colombia.  My first photo was taken at Cristalino in Brazil.






The Toucan Route


I could only find one video with this bird online which was filmed in Peru.


Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco)

The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), also known as the common toucan or toucan, is the largest and probably the best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America.

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They have a large range covering Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.  It is very easy to find them in the Pantanal of Brazil especially on the fruit trees.





Neotropical Birds

National Geographic


Some amazing close-up footage!


My Top Twenty-Five Bird Sightings Of 2013

Following on from last year’s post in which I highlighted only parrot sightings, this year I have expanded to all bird species.  There were just so many birds who made a major impression on me!  I have also increased the number to 25 since we did 3 birding trips this year.  I didn’t always get good shots so I will put my own photo when I got one.  Some of them were pretty quick!  They are being presented in chronological order.

1.  Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) – seen at Nimbokrang & Waigeo, Indonesia; March 2013

Palm Cockatoo2.  Lesser Bird-of-paradise, (Paradisaea minor) – seen at Nimbokrang, Indonesia; March 2013

I couldn’t get a photo as he stayed in the trees so here’s one taken in Jurong Bird park, Singapore.



3.  Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) – seen at Nimbokrang, Indonesia; March 2013

Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Nimbokrang

Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Nimbokrang

4.  Western or Arfak Parotia (Parotia sefilata) – seen at Siyoubring, Indonesia, March 2013  I’ll never forget this feathered Lord of the Dance trying so hard to woo 3 aloof females!

One female Western Parotia comes in for a closer look while the male shows his best moves.  There were a couple other females higher up in the branches.

One female Western Parotia comes in for a closer look while the male shows his best moves. There were a couple other females higher up in the branches.

5.  Vogelkop Bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) – seen at Siyoubring, Indonesia, March 2013

OK lady Bowerbirds, come and check out my awesome bower!

OK lady Bowerbirds, come and check out my awesome bower!

6.  Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) – seen near Nimbokrang and on Waigeo Island, Indonesia, March 2013

IMG_78677.  Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, (Cicinnurus respublica) – seen on Waigeo Island, Indonesia in March 2013.   This little guy played hard-to-get with the camera.
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica

Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica

8.  Red Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra) – seen on Waigeo Island, Indonesia , March 2013.

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

9.  Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis) – seen at Crooked Tree, Belize, Tikal, Laguna del Lagarto, Carara, Soberania, August 2013.  This was the first parrot we saw after arriving in Central America so I chose him to represent all the Amazon species seen all over Central America.

Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)

Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)

10.  Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – seen at Crooked Tree, Belize, Tikal, Selva Verde, Laguna del Lagarto, Soberania, August 2013


11.  Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) – seen at Selva Verde & Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013

IMG_951112. Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013.


13.  Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)  – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013.


14.  Collared Araçari (Pteroglossus torquatus) – seen at Selva Verde, Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, Soberania.  August 2013.

IMG_982415.  Hummingbirds (all of them) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Monteverde, Savegre, Soberania.  There is no way I can single out one species, they are all spectacular!


IMG_1486 IMG_1483 IMG_149616.  Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker (Celeus castaneus) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013

IMG_969917.  Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) – seen at Monteverde (Curi Cancha) & Savegre.  I will never forget both sightings of this stunning bird!  The first one because I found him by myself and the 2nd one because there were several of them and they hung around a while so I could watch them.


IMG_1092a18.  Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) – seen at Savegre, Costa Rica, August 2013


I haven’t started the India & Sri Lanka series yet, we only got back a few weeks ago and I have been playing catch-up.  These birds will be covered first thing in the New Year.  The photos are a sneak-peek!

19. Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides) – seen in Coorg, India; Nov. 2013.  This time there were only fleeting glimpses of a flock flying overhead so the photo is one I took in 2011 in Kerala.

Malabar Parakeet A20.  White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) – seen at Kithulgala, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.


21.  Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae) – seen at Kithulgala & Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  They were swift flyers and refused to perch & pose.


22.  Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus) – seen at Kithulgala, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  At least he posed, albeit with the sun behind him!



23.  Alexandrine Parakeet – (Psittacula eupatria) – seen at Kithulgala & Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.


24.  Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus) – seen at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  He only let me get one shot before turning his back.


25.  Sri Lanka Blue Magpie or Ceylon Magpie (Urocissa ornata) – seen at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.

I didn’t get a photo of them since they stayed in the trees so here’s one from Wikipedia.




The Birds Of Soberania National Park

Yesterday, I blogged about how to arrange a visit to Soberania National Park.  Now I will show you some of the birds you can expect to see there.  A comprehensive bird list can be found on the Canopy Tower’s website.  Of course you won’t see them all but with luck you can see some of the highlights.


I always prefer to climb a tower to have a bird’s eye view over the rainforest.  When you are at ground level in dense forest, bird sightings may be only a colored rustling in a tree or a fleeting glimpse as they fly over your head and disappear into the forest before you can aim your camera.  The observation tower here was good for sightings (from a distance) of Red-lored Parrots, Yellow-crowned Parrots, Blue-headed Pionus Parrots and Toucans.  In the last photo you can see a glimpse of a ship going through the Panama Canal!

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The construction of the tower is pretty cool too!  Since it is deep in the rainforest, you can’t get a photo of it from the ground except looking straight up or from the top looking straight down.

IMG_1436 IMG_1463 IMG_1464 IMG_1466 IMG_1467 IMG_1465IMG_1470Next we headed off down the trail towards the lake, got half way there and got rained out.

IMG_1471 IMG_1472We fled back to the main building and kept busy watching the jewel-toned hummingbirds.  We were the only people there until a tour group showed up on segways (not sure how they drove them over the bumpy Pipeline Road)!

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IMG_1475 IMG_1476 IMG_1477 IMG_1478 IMG_1481 IMG_1483 IMG_1486 IMG_1487 IMG_1488 IMG_1489 IMG_1492 IMG_1494 IMG_1496 IMG_1498 IMG_1500 IMG_1502Rental cars can be safely driven here and parked in their car park.



After leaving Pipeline Road, we drove past the Panama Canal to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort to check out the birds down by the river.  We had planned to have lunch there but the restaurant was closed.

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IMG_1518 IMG_1523 IMG_1527 IMG_1528 IMG_1529 IMG_1531 IMG_1532 IMG_1534 IMG_1535GAMBOA BRIDGE

We had to drive across this rickety looking bridge that made me very nervous!  I crept along at 5km per hour with annoyed locals piled up behind me.

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Birds Of Laguna Del Lagarto: Parrots, Toucans, Aracaris & Trogon

Since there are so many photos, I am breaking this up into separate posts.  There are other posts for  information on how to get to Costa Rica & Laguna del Lagarto.

Bird List of Laguna del Lagarto


I highlighted in yellow the ones I saw.  I didn’t get photos of the Crimson-fronted Parakeet or Olive-throated Parakeet.  I’ll try to put the photos in order of this list as there are too many to caption.


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IMG_9824 IMG_9827 IMG_9823 IMG_9814 IMG_9864 IMG_0306 IMG_0211 IMG_0148 IMG_9970 IMG_9877 IMG_9870 IMG_9869



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Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

Keel-billed Toucans

Keel-billed Toucans

The Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) can be found from Southern Mexico to Venezuela and Colombia and is the national bird of Belize.  If you want to see them in the wild, a Central American award on your airline of choice will get you to their strongholds in Central America.


It roosts in the canopies of tropical, subtropical, and lowland rainforests, up to altitudes of 1,900 m (6,200 ft).  It roosts in holes in trees,often with several other toucans. This can be very cramped, so the birds tuck their tails and beaks under their bodies to conserve space while sleeping. Adding to the lack of space, the bottoms of the holes are often covered with pits from the fruit the toucans have eaten.  Like many toucans, Keel-billed is a very social bird, rarely seen alone. It travels in small flocks of approximately six to twelve individuals through lowland rainforests; it is a poor flyer, and moves mostly by hopping through trees. It has a family structure within the group. Birds will often “duel” with each other using their bills, and throw fruit into each other’s mouths. Keel-billed Toucans live together in these groups, often sharing cramped living quarters of holes in trees. Able to utilize human-altered habitat to some extent,this widespread bird is considered to be a Species of Least Concern by the IUCN.



Rainforest Alliance

Cornell Lab of Ornithology



Targeting Central American Parrot Species

Central America has some of the best birding in the world.  There are so many bird species, it would be impossible to see all of them or even visit all the national parks and regions where birds are easily seen.  It is better to make a list of your priority species, find out where they can be seen and cross-reference the different regions to maximize possible species.  Since I am obsessed with Parrots, I gave them priority when I decided which regions and national parks I would visit.  I knew that many other fascinating bird species would also be seen such as the Resplendent Quetzal, various Toucans and Aracaris, many gorgeous little Tanagers and Woodpeckers and lots of other birds.

After using several resources such as the bird lists found on national park websites, the book Parrots of the World by Joseph Forshaw and recommendations from friends, I came up with the following spreadsheet.  A black X indicates the bird has been seen in that area.  A green X indicates the birds I actually saw when I was there.  The “captive” Yellow-naped Amazon seen near Montverde was originally a wild parrot whose wings have been clipped so he can’t fly and is forced to hang around a certain restaurant/gift shop.  There will be more details on future blogs.  The bright yellow shading indicated parrots I was successful in seeing, the white rows are the 3 species I didn’t find-the Barred Parakeet and the 2 Parrotlets.

Parrots of Central America