Migratory Birds and Flyways - Americas

Chestnut-capped Blackbirds. Photo: Grasslands Alliance

Conservation of migratory birds needs a coordinated response on a global scale. Flyways - the entire geographical areas used by migratory birds during an annual cycle, including the breeding and wintering grounds, migration routes and stopover sites - provide a way to forge international collaboration. The BirdLife Partnership is ideally placed to deliver this, with national Partners throughout the world.

Many of the 350 migrant species that breed in North America and winter in Central and South America and the Caribbean are in rapid decline.

BirdLife in the Americas is working to advance bird conservation throughout the range used by these migrants, and is creating lasting partnerships across national borders.

For example, The Initiative for the Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds in the Tropical Andes is initiating conservation across a network of 432 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in the tropical Andes, a key region supporting 132 species (33%) of Neotropical migrants.

In total, 513 of the IBAs so far identified in the Americas were “triggered” by their importance for Neotropical migrants. Since 2003, BirdLife has coordinated five projects funded by the US Neotropical Migratory Birds Conservation Act, aimed at identifying and proposing management action for priority IBAs for migrants in the Tropical Andes, Central America and the Caribbean, the Guianas, Argentina and Chile, and the Pampas grasslands of South America.

The Pampas or Southern Cone Grasslands of South America cover an area of 1 million km2 in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Over 130 IBAs have been identified in these grasslands, 61 of them outstanding for the conservation of migratory birds like Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis, Swainson Hawk Buteo swainsoni and Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorusLess than 3% of the Pampas remains untouched, making these grasslands probably the most threatened biome in the region. Four BirdLife Partners - Aves Argentinas, Aves Uruguay, SAVE Brasil and Guyra Paraguay - have developed the multi-national Southern Cone initiative for grassland biodiversity conservation in the region, by providing incentives for the resumption of traditional, sustainable cattle-raising and rice-growing. The initiative works with other BirdLife Partners in the Americas, including the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the USA) and Pronatura (BirdLife in Mexico).

BirdLife Partners throughout the Americas are involved with other NGOs and governments and national and regional agencies in trans-continental initiatives like the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), the Boreal Songbird Network, and BirdLife’s own Neotropical Migrants at IBAs initiative.

In just one of many regional projects, the flyways concept is being put to the test with an initiative that links three Important Bird Areas in the Americas: Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA, the most important inland stopover for many species of shorebird, waterbird and waterfowl in continental North America; Chaplin Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the Marismas nacionales along the Pacific coast of Mexico. These areas, all WHSRN sites, share many of the same species, including Wilson’s Phalarope Steganopus tricolor and Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan.