email a friend
printable version
Location Panama, Panamá
Central coordinates 79o 11.00' West  8o 59.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 48,919 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2006

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description The Upper Bay of Panama includes very extensive tidal mudflats (11,000 ha) up to 3 km wide, from Costa del Este just east of Panama City to the Ensenada de Corral at the mouth of the La Maestra River 70 km to the east. Near Panama City the site borders heavily urbanized and suburban areas, while the eastern part is relatively remote and difficult of access except by boat. Rivers draining into the bay include the Bayano (by far the largest), Juan Díaz, Cabra, Pacora, Chico, Pasiga, and La Maestra. On the landward side the site is contiguous with Tocumen Marsh and La Jagua, which are national-level IBAs, and merges with the Chimán Wetlands IBA to the east.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  1988-1997  3,270 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus winter  1988-1997  30,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus winter  1988-1997  6,273 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus winter  1988-1997  5,844 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Willet Tringa semipalmata winter  1988-1997  10,841 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla winter  1997  165,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Near Threatened 
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri winter  1997  1,091,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1988-1997  1,000,000-2,499,999 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bahía de Panamá Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 48,919 is identical to site 48,919  

Local conservation groups The local conservation groups below are working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Amigos del Ambiente 2005
Junta Local de Oquendo 2005


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   minor
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats  major
Forest Mangrove  37%
Marine Intertidal   major
Marine Coastal/Supratidal   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
fisheries/aquaculture major
rangeland/pastureland major
nature conservation and research major
tourism/recreation minor
urban/industrial/transport minor

Other biodiversity Neotropical River Otter, Crab-eating Raccoon, and American Crocodile probably occur.

Protection status The area was declared a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 2003, and part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2005. However, it has not yet been formally recognized as a nationally protected area.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

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. Morrison, R. I. G., R. W. Butler, E. S. Delgado, and R. K. Ross. 1998. Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds and other waterbirds on the coast of Panama. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa. Watts, Brian D. 1998. An Investigation of Waterbirds within the Panama Canal Area and the Upper Bay of Panama. Center for Conservation Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Bay of Panamá. Downloaded from on 26/10/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife