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CHECKLIST

CHIRIQUI HIGHLANDS

PANAMA
LOCALE

# Species:295
# Excl Vagrants:295
# Endemics:1
# Near Endemics:57
Habitat: Middle-high elevation forest, coffee fincas

ABOUT THE BIRDING

The western highlands of Panama are an extension of the Talamanca Mountains that extend eastward along the Continental Divide from Costa Rica. Volcan Baru is an 11,400 ft volcanic cone that provides access to higher elevation birding. From its slopes it's possible to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from the same vantage point on a clear day due to the narrowness of the country.

Excellent birding can be found at numerous sites within the western highlands. La Amistad Heritage Park is a large protected area following the crest of the Continental Divide and is described in more detail separately. It is reached from the villages of Cerro Punta or Guadalupe on the eastern slope of Volcan Baru. Finca Lerida is a coffee finca (farm) that also serves as a research station for the Smithsonian Institution and is likewise described separately. Finca Lerida is a middle elevation site located near the village of Boquete on the southern slope of Volcan Baru. Similarly, Finca Hartmann is a coffee finca that specializes in growing shade-grown coffee and is open to birders and other visitors. It is located nearer to the Costa Rica border on a middle elevation plateau west of the village of Volcan.

Numerous other birding sites are present in the highlands. The road leading to the village of Chorro Macho de Monte, off the main road from the Pan American Highway leading to Volcan, offers good early morning birding along the river and roadway. Roadside areas along the Ruta Sereno and other side roads are sometimes good as well. A couple bed-and-breakfasts put out hummingbird feeders and are the best places to see highland hummingbirds such as Violet Sabrewing, Green Violetear, White-bellied Mountain-gem, Magnificent Hummingbird, and Scintillant Hummingbird. The Los Quetzales Trail leading fairly steeply upslope from Boquete to the Respingo Ranger Station above Guadalupe is an excellent place to see Resplendent Quetzal. The area around the ranger station is a good place to look for specialty birds such as Chiriqui Quail-Dove, Orange-bellied Trogon, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Ochraceous Pewee, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Silvery-throated Jay, Wrenthrush, Large-footed Finch, and White-naped Brush-Finch. The road leading higher up the slopes of Volcan Baru from Guadalupe provides access to higher elevation specialties such as Volcano Hummingbird and Volcano Junco.

LOCATION OF SITE

The western highlands of Panama are best reached by flying from Panama City to the provincial capital of David. From David the highlands are reached by driving a short distance west on the Pan American Highway and then north on the road to Boquete or Volcan. The higher elevation town of Cerro Punta on the slopes of Volcan Baru is reached by continuing on from the village of Volcan. It can only be reached from Boquete by driving back down to the lowlands and circling around to Volcan.