Panama is a beautiful country with a multitude of interesting sights to take in during a visit there, with birding being one of their specialties. The country is about the same land area as West Virginia who has just over 300 species of birds that live or visit there. Panama is home to more than 978 distinct birds and the exciting realization that there are new species in some of the more remote areas. To put that in perspective, there are 914 recognized species in United States and Canada combined! There is a fantastic mix of North and South American birds with some being migratory and others that are resident species. There are also several endemic species which means that they can only be found in within the borders of Panama. The Panama Canal is something to see as the large ships are moving through the locks, but more importantly, you must see the jungles around the canal that have been protected as green spaces and are relatively untouched since the building of the canal. This buffer around the canal is an amazing place to see some of the lowland birds in this tropical country. Other excellent birding areas of the country are the mountains extending out of Costa Rica, the grasslands on the pacific coast, the mountain chain extending out of Columbia, the lowland forests and the vast shoreline on both the Pacific coast and the Atlantic Coast as well as desert climates complete with cacti.
The amazing colors of Panama's Birds are something that you notice immediately, with some of the birds looking like rainbows. There are several different species of Toucan, all with different painted bills, Trogons with their bright colors and pattern coded tails, Hummingbirds with the iridescent feathers only showing when the sun is hitting them just right and the Tanagers filling all colors of the spectrum in all corners of the country. There are birds with cryptic coloration so well camouflaged, they have white speckles on their wings to imitate the look of filtered sunlight sitting on a leaf. Some birds look so similar to a branch that they are undetectable even when passing by within a couple feet. The niches that birds fill here are also incredibly far ranging with that reason being, the diversity of the landscape. There are birds that dwell here that have a special symbiotic relationship with plant species as well and have adapted a bill that is so specialized it is only suited to collecting nectar from a handful of flowers. The beak adaptation matches the length and curve of a flower’s tube virtually making that bird the only pollinator. The are also the Antbirds that have forged a binding relationship with army ants and are found only in the presence of these fierce insects. The Frigate birds, “pirates of the sky” who are canal residents who's main source of food is by stealing from other sea birds. The overwhelming diversity of birds in this little country makes it a birders paradise.