Temas Especiales

08 de Jun de 2023


Welcoming migrating birds to Panama

PANAMA. Panama has more than 900 species of birds, an impressive number considering the small size of the country.

PANAMA. Panama has more than 900 species of birds, an impressive number considering the small size of the country.

To celebrate this unique feature, for 45 years, the Panama Audubon Society (PAS) has been promoting the preservation of birds in the country.

In the last 10 years the society has been working directly on conservation and education about birds and their habitats.

According to the group’s website, their focal areas are the wetlands of the Upper Bay of Panama and the primary forests of El Chorogo, Chiriqui, both identified as priority sites in Birdlife International’s Important Bird Areas program.

Every year, millions of birds of prey migrate from North America, where they reproduce, to places in South America to avoid the winter.

Among the society’s staple activities is the Raptors Ocean to Ocean bird count, which was initiated by the PAS and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 2004 to bring about the first count of migrating birds of prey in the Western Hemisphere in the narrowest place of the migratory route: the Panamanian isthmus.

The project was directed by George Angehr, an ornithologist researching with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the biologist Chelina Batista. Along with international volunteers and other local participants, they headed to nine observation places around the Panama Canal to monitor migratory flights for over a month.

In the end, they were able to count more than 3 million migratory birds of prey flying over Panama.

Raptor counts are usually done from Ancon Hill; the Neotropical Raptor Center of the Peregrine Fund, Gunn Hill, Clayton; the Canopy Tower, and in the community of Escobal, Loma Flores in the Province of Colon. In 2007, more than one million birds of prey were seen flying over the city from Ancon Hill, attesting to Panama’s privileged position as one in four known places (besides Israel, Mexico and Costa Rica) where one can see a million migratory raptors in a season.

This year’s Raptors Ocean to Ocean started on October 1st, and will carry on on until November 19. Current observation areas are Cerro Ancon and Gamboa, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and volunteers are welcome. Those interested should contact PAS at 232-5977.

In addition, throughout the year, PAS holds more than 30 birding field trips, and there are monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month. Through these activities they aim to inspire residents of Panama, especially young ones, to make preservation of the environment a priority.

The next activity for beginners is a birdwalk at Parque Natural Metropolitano.