Skip to main content


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…

Back to Tortí

In February 2016 (yes, last year) we returned to Tortí, eastern Panama, in search of species that are more likely to be present on this part of the country. We had a significant list of targets but, as usual, we didn’t find most of them. Disregarding that, we had a few surprises.

We started our day with some birds feeding on guarumos (Cecropia sp.). They were so far away but we made some pictures to show the diversity we found.

Pied Puffbird (Notharchus tectus)

Rusty-margined Flycatchers (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus)

Later, we found a nesting couple of Long-tailed Tyrants (Colonia colonus), this is a species in the family Tyrannidae, and the only member of genus Colonia. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and heavily degraded former forest. They build their nests in tree cavities 26 - 98 feet (8 - 30 meters) above ground. The average clutch consists of 2 or 3 eggs.

As we entered into the woods we found a family of White-fronted Nunbirds (Monasa morphoeus), as seen below. This is a near passerine bird in the puffbird family (Bucconidae) found in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela; in southern Central America in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

This glossy black or gray-black bird with a stout, medium red-orange bill is named for the white face markings on the cere, the base of its bill and on the upper throat. It has black eyes and black or gray-black legs.

Its natural habitats are subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical and tropical moist montane forests; while it requires woodland of sufficient extent to occur in any one region, it is not dependent on primary forest and will tolerate some degree of habitat alteration.

We are family!

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher (Terenotriccus erythrurus) inhabits the interior of humid lowland forest. They forage in the mid-story, They often sit motionless for short periods of time, then dart out in sallies to pluck insects from the air or foliage. This small flycatcher sits very upright.

Speckled Mourner (Laniocera rufescens) is a species in the family Tityridae. It is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. As long ago as the early 19th century, the Speckled Mourner was described as one of the scarcest of Middle American birds, suggesting that modern-day rates of deforestation are not solely to blame for its perceived rarity. Nonetheless, the Speckled Mourner appears to be tolerably common in parts of eastern Panama, which region is probably the best area to find the species. The Speckled Mourner is probably most likely to be confused with the slightly larger Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus), but the latter has a heavier (deeper based) bill, no markings on the breast, lacks the pectoral tufts, and shows no obvious wing markings, unlike this mourner. In Panama it’s uncommon in western Bocas del Toro, and on both slopes from Canal Area eastward to Colombia.

Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) - male

While we were on a stream photographing the antbird above, a medium-sized hermit (hummingbird) approached and stoped, remaining perched for some minutes. It was a Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri), a hummingbird usually found in understory of primary and disturbed forests, forest edge, dense second-growth, shrubbery, and plantations, often near rivers; from southeastern Guatemala and Belize to western Ecuador and western Venezuela. In Panama it’s uncommon in lowlands and foothills entire Caribbean slope and central and eastern Pacific slope.

Then we returned in April for a second round with a visitor from the USA that wanted to make  wildlife photography. The private reserve we use to visit was closed, and we had to improvise going to a river nearby. That day was overcast and rainy, and birds were not as numerous, instead we had better opportunities with mammals but first we stopped at a hummingbird feeder to heat engines.

Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) - male

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis) - female

Red-tailed Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis)

Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata)

Basilisk (Basiliscus sp.)

The surprise of the day was this remarkable Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus). This species is very widespread, with a distribution that extends from southern Mexico south to the Atlantic Forest region of southeastern Brazil. Throughout this broad area, Royal Flycatcher inhabits the lower levels of humid evergreen or deciduous forests, although it also ranges into mature second growth, and edges. Royal Flycatcher exhibits notable geographic variation across this range, and so some authors recognize as many as four species of royal flycatcher. The most notable feature of Royal Flycatcher is the long ornate crest, which is red to orange (paler in females), with black and blue spotting. Unfortunately, this individual apparently had no developed crest yet or it was extremely concealed. It’s uncommon in Panama, usually near streams.

Whooping Motmots (Momotus subrufescens)