Preparing for your birding holiday to Panama? Here is our list of suggested readings – useful books and resources with a wealth of information about Panama’s birds, wildlife and natural history.

The Birds of Panama Field Guide

The Birds of Panama, A Field Guide

George Angehr & Robert Dean (2010)

This is the most recent and handy bird field guide for Panama. Color plates from cover to cover, with a short description and range map of each species. If you don’t get a chance to pick it up before your trip, we sell this book at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge.

A Guide to the Birds of Panama

A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Honduras

Robert Ridgely & John A. Gwynne, Jr. (1992)

In addition to color plates, this book has a wealth of natural history information on the birds of Panama. It is larger and less field-friendly than the more recent guide, and the taxonomy has changed since it was last published, but is a great reference for additional information. We have copies of this guide in the libraries of the Canopy Family lodges.

Birds of Tropical America Stephen Hilty

Birds of Tropical America: A Watcher’s Introduction to Behavior, Breeding and Diversity

Steven Hilty (2005)

A fantastically well-written book covering many aspects of Neotropical bird natural history, ecology and behavior. Written in a way that all readers can become engaged and in terms that are very understandable and interesting. A great read!

Mammals of Central America Fiona Reid

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast Mexico, 2nd Edition.

Fiona A. Reid (2009)

This is a very comprehensive and useful guide for Neotropical mammals. Full of excellent color plates, tracks, and excellent natural history information.

A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America Jeffrey Glassberg

A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America, Second Edition

Jeffrey Glassberg (2018)

The second, most complete edition of the Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America is a very useful guide containing cover to cover full color plates with excellent photos. Key identification features and host plants (in many cases) are pointed out in an effective way on each species image. Contains a majority of the species found in Panama.

Butterflies of Central America Kim Garwood

The Butterflies of Central America

Kim Garwood and Richard Lehman (2011-2013)

This three-volume set is also very useful for identifying the butterflies of Panama, and includes many species we encounter around our lodges in full color plates. Print copies of these books are no longer available, but PDFs can be purchased from the Neotropical Butterflies website and can be saved on smart phones, making it very useful in the field.

The New Neotropical Companion John Kricher

A Neotropical Companion (1997) and The New Neotropical Companion (2017)

John Kricher

The bible to all things Neotropical! This book, published in both English and Spanish (The Neotropical Companion), contains extensive information about the ecological processes and natural history of the American Tropics. The New Neotropical Companion is packed with full-color photos, a fantastic follow up to the original book. Kricher also recently released Tropical Ecology (2011), a great text covering all aspects of Neotropical nature.

The Path Between the Seas

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914

David McCullough (1978)

The most comprehensive book about the history, construction and operations of the Panama Canal, bringing you every detail from pre-canal ideas to modern day operations. Highly recommended read if you are interested in learning more about this wonder of the modern world.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Neotropical Birds 

This is the largest database of all species of Neotropical birds. Like Cornell’s All About Birds website, Neotropical Birds shares well-documented natural history information about every species of bird found in the region, compiled by Cornell’s educated team of research & education staff, and citizen scientists. More species accounts are being completed regularly. Information about each species is accompanied by high-quality photos and audio.e


The world’s largest bird resource. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird is a remarkable and powerful tool for entering bird sightings, maintaining your life list, planning for your next birding vacation and researching species worldwide.