Migratory Birds and Flyways - Pacific

Globally threatened Bristle-thighed Curlew breeds in Alaska and spends the winter in the Pacific. Photo: John Clarkson

The routes followed by migratory birds on their journeys between their breeding and wintering places are known as flyways. BirdLife Partners in the countries and territories along the world's great flyways are taking action for migratory birds, by protecting chains of IBAs used as feeding and resting sites, and working with governments, developers and funding agencies to reduce the impacts of infrastructure protects, such as windfarms and power distribution networks.

The East Asian/Australasia Flyway is, globally, one of the major migration routes for a whole swathe of species (see EAAF for more details).  Australia and New Zealand are at the Southern limit of this flyway and, between them, support huge numbers of shorebirds that breed in the high arctic and the central plains of Asia.  Australia regularly holds 36 species of migratory shorebirds during the northern winter, with two sites, Eighty Mile Beach IBA and Mandora Marsh and Anna Plains IBA, each supporting up to 3 million birds.

Within Australia and New Zealand these sites holding significant numbers of migratory species are threatened by coastal development and increased disturbance.  However, the greatest threat to these species is while they are on migration, and particularly the loss of habitat at stopover sites between the breeding and wintering sites.  Information on population trends for these migratory species can be effectively monitored in Australia and New Zealand, while increased commitment to supporting policy and advocacy work to raise the profile of, and help protect the key stopover sites in Asia are the twin focusses of this programme.

A second, poorly-considered, flyway occurs within the Pacific.  There are few shorebird species that are restricted to this flyway, the Bristle-thighed Curlew being the only GT species, while many of the other species that overwinter on Pacific Islands use the EAAF flyway on their return to breeding grounds.  Similarly, very few passerines migrate into this region – exceptions being the Long-tailed Cuckoo and Shining bronze Cuckoo from Australia and New Zealand.  However, the area is a major migratory route for seabirds – with large numbers of species that breed in New Zealand following routes that take them to Chile, the North-West American coast and Japanese waters, sometimes within one non-breeding season.  Capturing the current knowledge about these migratory routes, identifying threats and developing responses to these threats will be the key focus of future work in the region.


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