Panama Canal West Bank

Country/territory: Panama

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4iv (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 16,850 ha

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description
This site includes the area of the former U.S.-administered Canal Zone west of the Panama Canal and south of Lake Gatún. Most of this area was formerly included in the U.S. military bases and training areas of Howard Air Force Base, Fort Kobbe, Rodman Naval Station, and the Empire and Balboa West Ranges. The terrain in most of the area is broken, with the highest point on Cerro Balboa (236 m) opposite the town of Gamboa. The area is divided by the Arraijan Highway between Panama City and its suburbs to the west, and the southern part is occupied by the airfield and housing of the former U.S. Howard Air Force Base. In the south it borders the urban areas of Arraijan, La Polvareda, and Veracruz, and in the north the town of Nuevo Emperador and rural areas devoted to cattle and subsistence agriculture.

Key biodiversity
The area is an important bottleneck site for migratory raptors. The maximum count in 2004 recorded 1,259,957 Turkey Vultures, 847,475 Broad-winged Hawks, and 847,475 Swainson’s Hawk. These species probably use the area as an overnight roosting site. The site is probably a bottleneck site for other species for which numerical data is lacking. Several nationally threatened species occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals recorded or probably occurring include Water Opossum, Central American Woolly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Western Night-Monkey, Panamanian Spiny Pocket-Mouse, Capybara, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, and West Indian Manatee. The reptiles and amphibians have not been surveyed in detail but many of the species found in Barro Colorado Nature Monument and Soberanía National Park undoubtedly occur. American Crocodile is found in the area.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Panama Canal West Bank. Downloaded from on 09/08/2022.