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Birdwatching at Summit Hotel

Some time ago our photographer Miguel “Siu” spent a weekend at Summit Hotel & Club Golf (, and of course, instead of spending time with clubs and balls, he took his tripod and camera and went searching birds on the trails and forested areas surrounding the facilities.
Suddenly, Siu heard a raptor whistle call that he immediately recognized as a Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus). He had heard it so many times while watching this bird soaring high, but to his surprise this time it was perched on a cecropia dead branch, just looking to the golf course. It only took seconds to draw this large bird’s attention and get a decent shot before it decided to soar to a farthest perch.

The Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus) is a large, black raptor of Neotropical forests. It has a prominent crest, is blackish with narrow white barring below, and broad gray bars on the tail. This hawk-eagle occurs in both open and dense forests. Individuals often soa…

Birding Paradise - the best place for Panama Birds & Wildlife Photos of 2016 (pt. 3) - Featured species: Spot-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia imitans)

In October, and after our latest adventure at the Barú Volcano, we returned to Paraíso to spend a whole day there. On this post we will focus on a species we were able to photograph on that occasion and later in November.

This species was observed on prior visits in small groups but good pictures were not possible then. Nevertheless, both genders of the species were spotted later on a miconia (Miconia sp.) shrub (a flowering plant in the Melastomataceae family), feeding on ripen berries. This happened on two different dates, the female was seen first and the male a month later. On both occasions the visits were short but our cameras were ready to capture the munching moments.

These visits allowed us to make great shots of this species which is confined to the Pacific slope of Costa Rica, and westernmost Panama where it is uncommon.

Spot-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia imitans) - female

Females are more distinctive than males, being principally green with rufous patches on the forehead and central underparts to crissum. In Panama’s range it’s easy to identify since the female is the only euphonia with rufous belly and vent. 

Spot-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia imitans) - male

The male has a typical euphonia pattern of steel blue upperparts and yellow below, but can be distinguished from the similar and partially sympatric Yellow-crowned Euphonia (E. luteicapilla) by the more restricted yellow cap. Also, small black spots on crown are inconspicuous.

This species is mainly found in humid forest, and is usually encountered in pairs or small groups. It forages at all heights in the foliage, but mainly at low and mid levels, and is omnivorous, taking fruit, insects, and possibly nectar. This euphonia is mainly lowland in distribution, although it reaches to about 1500 m (4,900 ft). In Panama, can only be found in western Chiriquí, close to Costa Rica.

Lesson’s Motmots (Momotus lessonii) are regular findings in this area

Thick-billed Euphonias (Euphonia laniirostris) are also regular, and way more common than Spot-crowned Euphonias.

Although the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) is known to be a bee and wasp specialist, never before we had observed them eating these insects, until now. We witnessed how this female attacked a nest and killed adults and larvae wasps. After several sallies she left the nest alone and continued foraging.

The widespread Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) is not rare anywhere in Panama but not always you are able to find a pair during the day. Unfortunately there’s always a leaf or branch in-between. Other common birds were found around the cabin where we were staying so we did not waste the opportunities to photograph them. 

Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)

Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus)

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) - immature

To be continued...