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Birds of Panama

PANAMA: WORLD-CLASS BIRDWATCHING

The birds of Panama make up approximately 10% of the world’s known birds.

Most are permanent residents, observable throughout the year.

Some notable birds of Panama include:

  • Golden-headed Quetzals (Pharomachrus auriceps)
  • Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomachrus mocinno)
  • 3 Species of Albatross
  • 8 Species of Toucan
A black yellow and crimson Toucan with a huge yellow and red beak, spotted in a tree while Birding in Panama's Pico Bonito
  • 5 Species of Macaw
Two red, colorful birds (scarlet Macaws) flying side-by-side in Panama's Coiba National Park
  • 59 species of Hummingbird
A green and yellow Canivets Emerald bird perched on a branch, spotted on a birdwatching expedition in Roatan Honduras

We wrote this free guide to the birds of Panama to help you plan your next birding expedition.

Gray Aracari toucan with neon green, red, yellow and orange accents on its belly, spotted on a birdwatching tour in Panama

Birding Paradise

World-class birding locations lie within easy reach of Panama City.

Among these are Pipeline Road, the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Soberania National Park, and Chagres National Park.

Away from Panama’s capital, other prime birdwatching locations include:

  • La Amistad International Park
  • Sendero de los Quetzales
  • Darien National Park

Each of these destinations is home to a wide variety of the Birds of Panama, along with many other species of observable wildlife.

La Amistad International Park

 

Located on the border of Panama and Costa Rica, La Amistad protects 850 square miles of cloud forest, rainforest, and lowland habitat. La Amistad is home to many birds, tapirs, monkeys, and brilliantly colored frogs. Privately guided day hikes can be arranged to the La Cascada waterfall and panoramic lookout points.

Bright blue red-legged honeycreeper bird with black mask and wings, one of the many Birds of Panama
Red-legged Honeycreeper

La Amistad Heritage Park is home to 219 of the birds of Panama. Located in the Chiriqui Province of Western Panama, many birders head to La Amistad in search of the Resplendent Quetzal.

Beyond the Resplendent Quetzal, birders in La Amistad can encounter a number of the other birds of Panama, including the:

  • Flame-throated Warbler
  • Sooty-capped Chlorospingus
  • Red-headed Barbet
  • Tufted and Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher
  • Chiriqui Quail-Dove
  • Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch
  • White-fronted Tyrannulet
  • Black-faced Solitaire
  • Yellow-thighed Finch
  • Golden-browed Chlorophonia

Getting to La Amistad typically requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The terrain here can be rough and guides are recommended.

Bright green hummingbird with orange chest spotted birding in Panama

Birding in Sendero de los Quetzales

The Sendero de los Quetzales—a six-mile trail from Boquete to Cerro Punta—is also located in the Chiriqui Province, on the northern slopes of the Baru Volcano.

Over 225 birds of Panama have been identified on this trail.

Some of the species found along this popular Panama birdwatching destination include:

  • Prong-billed Barbet
  • Scintillant Hummingbird
  • Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush
  • Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher
  • Yellow Flycatcher
  • Slaty Spinetail

True to its name, Sendero de los Quetzales represents yet another region of Panama where lucky birders can spot the Resplendent Quetzal.

Waterfall surrounded by dense green forest in Darien National Park in Panama

Birdwatching in Darien

In Panama’s far east, Darien National Park is both the largest national park in Central America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Its territory covers over 2,200 square miles, protecting mangrove swamps, mountains, lowland rainforests and Pacific beaches. More than 450 of Panama’s avian species have been observed at Darien.

Birdwatchers visiting Darien can encounter a wide array of the birds of Panama there, including the:

  • Golden-green Woodpecker
  • Rufous-winged Antwren
  • Bare-crowned Antbird
  • Plumbeous Hawk
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Tody Motmot
  • Crested Eagle
  • Barred Puffbird
  • Rufescent Tiger-heron
  • Tawny-breasted Flycatcher

Darien can be accessed by air and river. Experienced guides are a necessity.

Lush green coast and caribbean blue water on the edge of Darien national park in Panama

Want information on other great birding destinations? With 20 Islands and over 50 islets, the Galapagos Archipelago is home to 45 endemic bird species!

Find out more in our free Galapagos Islands guides here:

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS & SPECIES

GALAPAGOS SAFARI CAMP

GALAPAGOS YACHT CHARTERS

At LANDED, each travel request is personal. After all, you’re trusting us with your most precious asset—free time with the people you care about. By getting to know you, we’ll create the most memorable, most exceptional trip of your life. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.

Caves & Caverns

XIBALBA—THE MAYA UNDERWORLD

Belize’s river systems have honeycombed the limestone bedrock with caves and caverns. Some larger examples are still accessible by river, allowing visitors to float through on inner tubes or kayaks.

Others were sacred to the ancient Maya, representing a connection between this world and Xibalba—the Maya underworld.

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

Frank Herbert

CAVES BRANCH

The most visited cave system in Belize is the Caves Branch, accessible from the Hummingbird Highway near Belmopan. This system allows visitors to float through as much as seven miles of cave, punctuated by underground waterfalls and a sparkling cavern. The sensation of turning off your headlamp and floating through darkness is thrilling. This trip is best during the June to November rainy season when high water levels limit the need for hiking.

ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL

The famous Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave is located seven miles south of Belmopan. Here, hikers can travel 45 minutes through the forest to reach a narrow cave.

A clear stream flows from the entrance, filling many of the chambers with waist-high water. Inside lie over a dozen ancient skeletons, encrusted with calcium and glittering under flashlight.

St. Herman’s Blue Hole

Located just twelve miles southeast of Belmopan, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park protects 575 acres of forest habitat.

The principal attraction is the Blue Hole, a collapsed limestone cave (cenote), filled with turquoise water. Visitors can cool off with a swim between hikes through the surrounding forest.

The park is also the site of St. Herman’s cave, a 0.8 mile-long cavern known for its delicate speleothems. After a guided tour through the cave, you can float peacefully back to its entrance on an inner tube.

At the nearby Crystal (Mountain Cow) Cave, guided tours enter wide caverns known for their crystalline formations and abundant Maya artifacts.

Chumpiate

Chumpiate Cave, a Maya burial cave 10 miles south of San Ignacio at Chechem Ha, noteworthy for its ancient pottery and an elaborate altar.

Barton Creek Cave, set in hilly Mennonite pastureland near the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, represents another day-trip option.

Guided canoe tours can travel nearly a mile into the recesses of the cave, where Maya skeletons and pottery are found among the stalactites and limestone bridges.

Two red, colorful birds (scarlet Macaws) flying side-by-side in Guatemala

Rio Frio

Over 300 avian species have been sighted in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This 128,000-acre protected area is located east of the Maya Mountains and south of the rugged Cockscomb spur range.

The park has an excellent trail system through tropical forest inhabited by five feline species, howler monkeys, tapirs, and Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus).

Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) flock to the village of Red Bank, especially from January to March.

Hobek Ha

In the southern Toledo District, west of the town of San Antonio, the Hobek Ha Cave of Blue Creek offers a relaxing swim after a hike through the rainforest.

Visits to this cave are usually combined with tours to the Maya sites of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit.

LANDED arranges private tours of these habitats with expert guides. We also organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and domestic flights within Belize. These regions are our passion; we know them first-hand and by heart. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

Birding in Belize

BELIZE BIRDING: OVER 600 NATIVE SPECIES

Belize is birding paradise. More than 615 non-introduced avian species have been recorded in Belize’s territory, including:

  • Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomachrus mocinno)
  • Harpy and Crested Eagles
  • 26 species of Hummingbird
  • 12 types of Parrot & Parakeet
  • 18 species of Heron
  • 3 species of Booby

For many species, mating season coincides with the March to May dry season.

Rio Bravo Conservation Area

 

The Rio Bravo Conservation Area is a 260,000-acre reserve, located 33 miles west of Belize City, is one of the county’s best forest reserves. Notably, this site is adjacent to an additional 250,000 acres of private reserve. Over 400 species of avifauna have been identified here. Rio Bravo also supports populations of jaguar, jaguarundi, ocelot, and puma.

A red lored (green) parrot with a yellow and red beak, spotted in a tree on a birdwatching expedition in Belize

Yellow-lored Amazon

BIRD WATCHING IN CROOKED TREE

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, 33 miles northwest of Belize City, this site contains a 16,400-acre wetland and forest habitat. Resident species include:

  • Jabiru Stork (Jabiru mycteria)
  • Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)
  • Black Howler Monkey
  • Morelet’s Crocodile

Tours of Crooked Tree can be conducted by boat or hiking on foot.

View from helicopter charter above Belize, San Pedro to Corozal

Guanacaste National Park

Guanacaste National Park two miles from Belmopan, protects broadleaf forest near the confluence of the Belize River and Roaring Creek.

This is a transitional habitat, between the highlands and the coastal zone. The park is home to jaguarundi, agouti, kinkajous, and over 100 bird species.

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

Just south of San Ignacio, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve protects nearly 300 square miles of pine forest, rivers and waterfalls.

The reserve, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, is home to toucans, parrots, and motmots.

Half Moon Caye National Monument, at the southeast end of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is a nesting ground for the Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) and the Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens).

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Over 300 avian species have been sighted in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This 128,000-acre protected area is located east of the Maya Mountains and south of the rugged Cockscomb spur range.

The park has an excellent trail system through tropical forest inhabited by five feline species, howler monkeys, tapirs, and Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus).

Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) flock to the village of Red Bank, especially from January to March.

LANDED arranges private tours of these habitats with expert guides. We also organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and domestic flights within Belize. These regions are our passion; we know them first-hand and by heart. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica

Whitewater Rafting: Class II, Class III, & Class IV

Nearly every region in Costa Rica offers whitewater rafting—usually as a full-day excursion. Some areas, like Manuel Antonio and Turrialba, have several rivers of varying intensities.

A few of these rivers house multiple sections, each appropriate for a certain skill level.

For example, the Pacuare has three main segments: two with challenging Class IV rapids, and a third with easily navigated Class II and III rapids.

“Working with LANDED on our Costa Rica trip was like working with family. They took the time to get to know our family-our likes and dislikes-and as a result planned the perfect trip for us.”

Rafting float trips are popular among families with young children. The Rio Tempisque and Rio Corobici in Guanacaste are gentle, with a focus on wildlife watching.

Crocodiles, monkeys, and iguanas are easily observed, as your raft drifts along.

Three rafts full of vacation travelers on holiday in Costa Rica, rafting down a river gorge surrounded by lush green forest

Although most rafting tours are designed for groups and include a buffet lunch, we can arrange private trips, catered lunches, and riverside barbeques.

Multi-day river trips are available, some with overnight stops at comfortable river camps or lodges.

In most locations, rafting is offered year-round. However, many rafters prefer the Green Season months from May to mid-November, when water levels are higher.

LANDED arranges personalized travel throughout Costa Rica. By getting to know you, we’ll create the most memorable, most exceptional trip of your life. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.