Birding in Panama is an experience that no one will forget. For a country approximately the size of South Carolina, Panama has close to 1,000 species of bird. For reference, there are 914 bird species in all of North America. Situated as a land bridge between Central and South America, Panama enjoys the best of both worlds. In addition to the amazing diversity of resident tropical birds, hundreds of species of neotropical migrants overwinter in the country. During our trips, we see a staggering number of migrants both wintering and preparing for northward migrations.
Sitting at 8-degrees North latitude, Panama enjoys year-round tropical climate. Daytime temperatures range between 29- and 25-degrees celcius (83- and 79-degrees fahrenheit) and rainfall averages between 178- and 330-cm (70- and 129in) each year. However, rain is not a constant in Panama. There is a distinct rainy (aka "green") season and a dry season. The driest part of the year in Panama runs from December to early-April and the rainy season begins in mid-April and lasts until November.
The dry season is the most popular time of year for tourism in Panama. Although it is dry and hot, many of the bird species in the lowlands are busy building nests, establishing territories and mating. Birding during this time of the year is highly productive due to the visible nature of the birds during the mating season. Trip lists often approach 300 species and opportunities for photography are fantastic.
The trips I offer in February and March fall within the dry season.
Birding the Dry Season
Birding the Green Season
The green season is when the rainforest comes alive! As rains fall, tropical vegetation begins to leaf out and produce vibrant fruit and flowers. While many bird species have finished nesting by October, numerous recently fledged birds invade the forest and birding is amazingly productive. Many tropical resident birds are also year-round territory holders as well. So, despite the fact that the birds are no longer nesting, individuals continue vocalizing to protect their territories.
Most days enjoy sunny, warm mornings. Birding is especially good during this time. Late-morning rain showers are generally punctuated by periods of sun throughout the afternoons and a flurry of bird activity always follows the rain.
I offer one green season trip during the months of August and September.
For a list of species typically detected during our trips, click HERE.