Birds of Panama
Estuaries, mudflats and mangroves such as those found in Panama Bay, which skirts the ever-expanding Panama City, are a critical gateway for millions of Pacific shorebirds like the Western Sandpiper (30% of the global population relies upon the Bay for survival), Whimbrel (22%), Semipalmated Plover (20%) and 28 other shorebird species.
Dense mangrove forests provide winter homes for songbirds like the Prothonotory Warbler. In fact, hundreds of bird species require the ecosystem’s mix of marine life, plants, and food—so rich in this tiny isthmus—to survive their yearly migratory journeys throughout North and South America. Panamanians and the country’s economy also depend on a healthy habitat for fisheries and need the Bay’s complex mangrove system to mitigate the threat of flooding from heavy rains and sea-level rise due to climate change.
National Audubon Society has partnered with the Panama Audubon Society since 2006 to promote the conservation of the Bay of Panama and other conservation efforts in Panama. Together we developed a conservation plan to save the Bay, launched environmental education programs with more than 15 local schools and built an association of local groups focused on preserving wetland areas critical to birds.
Our focus evolves around four areas:
- Science and Monitoring: We use new and expanded species monitoring and scientific analysis to discover important habitat areas and to support decision-making.
- Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas: We work with local governments and key stakeholders to align conservation, development, and environmental education with priority sites.
- Community Engagement: We boost citizen awareness through school programs and outreach, enhancing a larger community that cares about birds and understand the importance of conservation.
- Capacity Building: National Audubon and Panama Audubon Society work together to build local conservation capacity that elevates bird conservation and supports more effective, targeted actions and improved management of wetlands and other priority areas.
Protecting the Bay of Panama
Through community engagement and government partnerships, Audubon and Panama Audubon Society seek to ensure the long-term protection of the Bay of Panama. Bordering the ever-expanding Panama City, the Bay of Panama is one of the most crucial stopover sites for birds migrating throughout the Pacific Flyway. Panama City’s rapid economic expansion and increased demand for land recently led to the need for quick action to save the Bay’s wetlands. Within just a few years, the Bay’s protected status was stripped then reinstated after a heated battle between development and conservationists. In 2015, 211,680 acres of the Bay of Panama were finally designated a protected wildlife reserve by the president of Panama. This victory was realized with the diligent efforts of Panama Audubon Society leading a network or organizations with National Audubon Society. By preserving and managing the development of the Bay of Panama in partnership with the local people, we can make the Bay of Panama a wildlife reserve worthy of world-class recognition.
Through environmental education, Audubon and Panama Audubon Society are helping to raise conservation awareness for local communities around the Bay of Panama and in the Chiriquí province. Through its Aulas Verdes (Green Classrooms) program, Panama Audubon Society helps train instructors and provides a curriculum and materials for teachers in elementary schools to help connect their students with their local coastal environments. To date, the program has reached over 15 local schools.