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The third official Wounaan Christmas Bird Count took place in Puerto Lara, Darien January 5, 2021.

Tangaras Azules and Oropendolas Negras on the morning of the count.

This year it was held with face masks, social distancing, reduced group sizes, and included only local participants. However, Puerto Lara’s enthusiasm and love for birds led to a successful count of 921 birds representing 116 species! Four groups ventured out for six hours each to observe the birds in the area. Overall, they traveled 12 kilometers by foot and boat and saw 10 species not seen on previous Wounaan Bird Counts! Highlights of the day were: a rufescent tiger heron, black oropendolas, five blue cotingas, keel-billed toucans, and whooping motmots. The most exciting observation? A boat-billed heron rookery complete with many nests, parents, and chicks!

Photos from left to right: Boat-billed heron (Photo by Jairo Cheucarama), Boat-billed heron chick (Photo by Jairo Cheucarama), Oropendola Negras counting birds on the river route (Photo by Rolando Cheucarama).

Today, Puerto Lara’s conservation is on the map of this century-old citizen science tradition. One of six Christmas Bird Counts to take place in Panama, it is the only one in Darien Province, so far. The Wounaan bird group, Oropendolas Negras, began observing and counting birdlife in July 2017. In 2018, they were joined by the all-women Wounaan bird group, the Tangaras Azules. Together, they have identified more than 275 species in Puerto Lara and have carried out six internationally recognized counts. They look forward to the next Wounaan Christmas Bird Count, January 5, 2022!


How you can help. Visit our donation page to learn how you can support the Wounaan communities of Puerto Lara, Rio Hondo, and Platanares in their efforts to conserve and protect their territory.


The 2021 count was completed entirely by Wounaan birders in Puerto Lara. Visitors from outside the community for the 2022 count are pending the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Panama. Be on the lookout for updates.

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