Santa Fé National Park

Country/territory: Panama

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 72,636 ha

Protection status:

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description
Santa Fe National Park extends along both slopes of the central cordillera above the town of Santa Fe (420 m) and the smaller settlements of Chitra, Gatú, Loma Chata, and Piedras Gordas (500-800 m), which all are on the Pacific slope. On the Caribbean slope it is contiguous with the Golfo de los Mosquitos Forests and to the east with Omar Torrijos National Park. The higher peaks within the park include Cerros Tute (1,081 m), Cabeza de Toro (1,412 m), Negro (1,431 m), Saro (1,518 m), San Antonio (1,414 m), and Chicú (1,764 m). The high point (unnamed on maps) is 1,964 m, and is located between the headwaters of the Concepción and Veraguas Rivers. The park incorporates the upper watersheds of the Santa María, Gatú, and San Juan Rivers on the Pacific slope and the Calovébora, Guázaro, Concepción, Veraguas, and Belén on the Caribbean. Park boundaries extend down to 400 m on the Pacific slope near Santa Fe and to 80 m on the Caribbean slope on the Guázaro River. There is a very distinct break in the Tabasará cordillera within the park west of Santa Fé, between Cerros Cabeza de Toro and Pira-gual, where the continental divide drops to 800 m. A gravel road passes from Santa Fe to Calovévora on the Caribbean through this gap. Although in recent years it has been impassable to vehicles much beyond the divide, it has recently been improved. The topography of most of the area is rugged, and access is difficult. The Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca borders the area on the west. The Santa Fé-Calovébora road and the lower slopes of Cerro Tute are well-known birding areas, but the only information on the birds of the higher peaks to the east are collections made in the 1860s (Salvin 1867, 1870)2 and in 1925-26.

Key biodiversity
The Santa Fe area is one of only two known sites for the globally threatened endemic Glow-throated Hummingbird. Specimens were collected in the area in the nineteenth century, although locality data are poor. There have been only two recent records, by F. G. Stiles in 1982 and B. Whitney in 1984, both from Cerro Tute. The species is otherwise known only from the Cerro Santiago area. The break in the cordillera at Santa Fe may represent the eastern end of its range. The nationally-endemic Yellow-green Finch is also found here, and is otherwise known to occur only at the Fortuna Forest Reserve, where it is rare, and at Cerro Santiago. In addition, the globally threatened Three-wattled Bellbird and Bare-necked Umbrellabird and the near-threatened Black Guan and Blue-and-gold Tanager also occur. The site contains 5 of 11 species (45%) of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA, 32 of 54 species (59%) of the Costa Rica and Panama Highlands EBA, and 32 of 68 species (47%) of biome N06. Because of the low pass in the cordillera, many species typical of the Caribbean slope, including the Central American Caribbean Slope endemic Lattice-tailed Trogon, are found on the Pacific slope in the Santa Fe area. The only specimen of Great Horned Owl from Panama was collected above Chitra in 1868, but this most likely represents a vagrant individual rather than a resident population (Olson 1997).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals include Water Opossum, Central American Woolly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, Talamancan Yellow-shouldered Bat, Spix’s Disk-winged Bat, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Central American Spider Monkey, Chiriqui Pocket Gopher, Panamanian Spiny Pocket Mouse, Yellow Deer Mouse, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar, and Baird’s Tapir. Reptiles and amphibians that have been reported include the frogs and toads Atelopus varius, Colosthetus flotator, C. inguinalis, Dendrobates pumilio, Smilisca sordida, Eleutherodactylus gollmeri, E. melanostictus, E. pardalis, E. podiciferus, E. raniformis, and E. rugulosus, the salamander Bolitoglossa colonnea, the lizards Basiliscus vittatus, Leposoma southi, and Anolis lionotus, and the snakes Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps, Micrurus clarki, and Atropoides nummifer (Santamaría 2000).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Santa Fé National Park. Downloaded from on 08/03/2021.