Dear Luke and Leia,
Today I want to tell you about birding in Panama and the different birds and animals we have seen … quite a few!
I'm not saying that we are ‘birders' or into bird photography, nor do we know every bird's name. But, we have totally enjoyed all the different colors, sizes and types of birds we've seen. Birding in Panama is very big and so far people have seen 978 species of birds.
There are several main places to go for birding, and many we have not been to, but we have gone to Soberania National Park at Pipeline Road as well as Boquete, in the western mountains to see birds. We also saw many in the mountain area of El Valle de Anton, about an hour and a half west of Panama City.
Soberania and Pipeline Road
In in Parque Soberania, there is a ranger station called Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. Nearby is a world-famous walking trail called Pipeline Road. At the station, there are guides that will climb the tower with you and help you spot birds and other wildlife. They know their species very well and speak great English.
At the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center itself, they have set up numerous hummingbird feeders. They are all loaded with the tiny birds, dive bombing each other to get to the nectar.
Tip: Unless you want to be dive bombed, do NOT wear a red hat. Red is a magnet for hummingbirds and you may find yourself being greeted up-close-and-personal by at least 5 species, all buzzing you at lightning speeds.
Birds we have seen in Panama
We don't know the names of these birds.
Wildlife we have seen while birding in Panama
If you come, don't just be on the lookout for birds though, as other wildlife will make themselves known to the patient observer.
El Valle de Anton
El Valle is down inside an ancient volcano and boasts of a quiet existence with a small church and local farmers market.
We stayed at a cabin there that we really liked, called Cabanas Potosi. The owner loves her birds and had quite an efficient set up in her back yard to attract them. We saw birds all over her property and the hotel grounds.
El Valle is a great location to relax and hike, but it does have a few other amenities such as a reptile zoo, small animal zoo, and an ochid conservatory that all deserve some of your time.
Boquete (bo-ket-tay) is located in the mountains north of the large western town of David. Ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 feet in altitude, Boquete is the perfect place in paradise for cooler temperatures, coffee plantations and mountain birds. Not only has Boquete attracted spectacular birds, it has caught the eyes of retirees and birders alike.
We have stayed at a number of hotels in Boquete. However, Finca Lerida offers a full birding experience, complete with early morning breakfast and a guide to take you into the cloud forest.
You'll have to sight the many fowl through the mist. We really wanted to see the famous quetzal and its long, double-plumed tail, but saw none.