A hotspot for birders in Central America
Nestled delightfully as a natural land-bridge between the Americas, Panama provides the perfect introduction to Neotropical birding. This small country is fast becoming a must-visit destination for birders and nature travellers the world over, and for very good reason. The natural life in Panama is simply astounding. In a country about the size of the state of South Carolina, more than 10.000 species of native flora have been identified! Add to this the fact that almost one-third of the entire country is protected within 15 nature reserves and it is no wonder that Panama is praised for its natural beauty – it is untouched and abounding!
The country also boasts some of the most accessible rainforests and high-altitude cloud forests on Earth. Thing only thing that could possibly outshine Panama’s scenery, however, is its array of birdlife. Birding in Panama is an absolute delight. From Toucans to Tanagers, Hawks to Hummingbirds and everything else in between, the variety of avifauna is sure to keep all enthralled! Holding one of Central America’s most remote wildernesses, the Province of Darien provides its explorers with some incredible treats.
With over 900 species available here, there is something for everyone.
Situated east of the Panama Canal, and sharing a border with Colombia, nowhere else in Panama does nature express itself so abundantly than in this special region. Amidst the natural and abundant beauty lie some truly magnificent birding specialities, including Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Golden-collared Manakin, Little and Dwarf Cuckoo, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and the truly majestic Harpy Eagle – Panama’s National Bird. Searching the lowland rainforest environs of this area is sure to provide anyone with some lovely bird species, and expecting to find a few surprises here would not be remiss.
The opposite end of Panama holds just as much excitement as the east, with the Chiriqui Highlands taking centre stage. Straddling the Panamanian and Costa Rican border, these highlands are part of a chain of volcanic mountains. Exploring the lush, mid-elevations of the Caribbean slope is sure to yield a very different suite of birds than that of the rest of the country. Possibilities here could include Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Lattice-tailed Trogon, White-bellied Mountaingem and the incomparable Snowcap. These highlands hold some of the world’s most spectacularly beautiful birds, and there are over 50 highland endemic species available here.
One of the biggest highlights possible is the gaudy and awe-inspiring Resplendent Quetzal – strikingly plumaged (as the name suggests), this member of the trogon family is sure to take the spotlight when it is seen.
The ease of birding in Panama is also something to be commended, and enjoying what this country has to offer is by no means a difficult task. The size of the country also means long travel days and arduous hikes are not necessary; add to this the fact that comfortable accommodation can be found just a stone’s throw away from some of the best birding locales in the country and you have a winning recipe for some of the best birding the world has to offer!
Experience Nature in Panama with our partner Rockjumper Birding Tours.