Knowing birders have already guessed what all the fuss was about. Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja). My photos are horrible and Matt will post much nicer shots which I'll try to link here when he makes his blog entry. We saw this bird - a female with her chick - with prolonged and highly satisfying views.
Harpy Eagle is not the largest eagle in the world - the Philippine eagle and a Japanese fish eagle are larger - but Harpy Eagle is the most powerful eagle in the world. Its food preference is the slow-moving sloth - clearly no match for the world's most powerful eagle.
The other thing important to Harpy Eagle survival in Panama is the cuipo tree - a tall tree with strong limbs - (photo in my Camino a El Salto post) - for their nest building. The World Land Trust link reports that one of the biggest remaining populations is found in Panama.
The female Harpy is much larger than the male. The nest is behind the large limb on the right side of the photos and the tail end of her body was visible on the other side of this limb. Unfortunately, the dimensions of this cannot be seen in these photos but in real life it was startling.
When Domi suggested it was time to leave we had a few final hurried looks through the spotting scope. And then the female Harpy stood up, turned her back to us and flew. Breathtaking. Just as we walked away from the scope Matt and his team came back to try for their second look.
Each year Matt's trips (at least those I have been fortunate enough to be on) seem to overlap with Super Bowl Sunday going on back home. The Super Bowl is on TV all over the world. But most years we were out birding and anyway, this year, Canopy Camp had no TVs. I'm not a particular fan of the Super Bowl, so for me this is fine. But Matt and Lathe are football fans and missed this year's game. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this year it was okay with them.