|Central coordinates||79o 40.00' West 9o 1.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4iv|
|Altitude||10 - 236m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Ornithological information 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.
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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura||passage||2004-2005||1,259,957 individuals||good||Least Concern|
|Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus||passage||2004-2005||847,475 individuals||good||Least Concern|
|Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni||passage||2004-2005||681,861 individuals||good||Least Concern|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi||winter||2006||-||poor||A1||Near Threatened|
|Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera||winter||2006||-||poor||A1||Near Threatened|
|Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea||winter||2006||-||poor||A1||Vulnerable|
|A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes||passage||2004-2005||-||good||A4iv|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial landscapes (terrestrial)||minor|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
Other 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.
Management considerations Some 2,200 ha of forest, mostly highly disturbed, has been zoned for urban use or other development. Approximately 5,650 ha have been zoned for agroforestry or forest plantations, of which 3,750 is presently forested. A highway has recently been constructed through the area connecting to the new Centennial Bridge over the Panama Canal. Poaching is a serious problem. Due to its proximity to Panama City the area has considerable potential for eco-tourism, but access to most of it is currently severely restricted by ARI.
Protection status The land use plan adopted by Panama’s Interoceanic Regional Authority (ARI) designated part of the area as Protection Forest (5,100 ha, of which 4,800 ha is forested). The Balboa West Range and parts of the Empire Range formerly used for weapons testing are designated as "Deferred Use" (4,600 ha, 3,500 forested) due to the threat of unexploded ordnance. An additional 3,000 ha of forest is designated as Canal Operating Area and under the control of the Panama Canal Authority.
Conservation response None known.
References Angehr, George R. 2003. Directorio de areas importantes para aves en Panama. Directory of important bird areas in Panama. Panama: Sociedad Audubon de Panama.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Panama Canal West Bank. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/06/2013
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