Migratory Birds and Flyways


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Protecting and restoring the flyways

Conservation of migratory birds needs a coordinated response on a global scale. The BirdLife Partnership is ideally placed to deliver this, with national Partners throughout the world.

Africa and Europe: In order to safeguard flyways, we work tirelessly to link and protect chains of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas along the length of their routes. Through our national Partners, we advocate for government recognition of these habitats as crucial migration stopover sites.

To raise awareness of the threats of habitat degradation, illegal killing, poisoning, agricultural practices, and mortality due to energy infrastructure the Birdlife Partnership runs public campaigns and educational programmes. To mitigate the damage caused by human exploits, our organisations engage with local authorities, interest groups and private businesses to work with them to mitigate the risks to migratory birds all along the flyways. Read more about what we're doing to protect Migratory Birds and Flyways in Europe and Central Asia.

East Asia and Australia: This area has more waterbird species listed as Near Threatened or Globally Threatened than any other major flyway. Rates of species decline of up to 8% per year are among the highest of any ecological system of the planet. With funding from the British Birdwatching Fair, BirdLife are working with governments and agencies and with other NGOs to identify conservation action at critical sites for migrating shorebirds, to improve the quality of data on the bird populations that use the flyway, and to raise awareness throughout the region of the threats to migratory birds and the value of coastal wetlands to birds and people. Read more about BirdLife's Migratory Birds and Flyways policy in Asia.

Americas: 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.In 2013, the BirdLife Americas Partnership began an ambitious project to link conservation work at grassland Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in North and South America. This project built on work pioneered by BirdLife Partners in the Southern Cone grasslands of South America, which has encouraged a growing number of ranchers to readopt traditional cattle-rearing practices, which benefit birds. Read more about Migratory birds and Flyways in the Americas.


BirdLife has helped usher in a new era of international cooperation in the conservation of migratory species.

BirdLife was instrumental in the November 2012 resolution adopted by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), which, for the first time, set out a global agenda for flyway conservation. BirdLife also devised effective plans to tackle agrochemicals, power lines, climate change, extractive industries, and renewable energy. For more information, see our Flyways and CMS policy.

BirdLife has fostered many important collaborations to tackle the threats facing migratory birds. BirdLife’s Migratory Soaring Bird project unites 11 national governments and BirdLife Partners along the Rift Valley and Red Sea flyways, in order to protect the key migratory bottlenecks used by 1.5 million storks, cranes and raptors. We have helped develop tools such as the Wings Over Wetlands project and are part of an international consortium operating in the African-Eurasian Flyway under the Safe Flyways programme, which tackles three main pressures facing migratory birds: illegal killing, poisoning and mortality due to energy infrastructure. Read more about our Global Policy Work.


BirdLife International is the global authority on the conservation status of all bird species, and BirdLife’s World Bird Database (WBDB) is the main repository for information on trends in the population of bird species, their use of habitat (including its seasonal importance), and the threats they face.

The WBDB also includes data on 12,000 Important Bird Areas, the species that use them, the condition of each site, their protection status, and factors that may affect them in the future. The Important Bird Area (IBA) networks launched by BirdLife can support large bird populations and are particularly important for migratory bird species.

In partnership with other international organisations and conventions, BirdLife created the Critical Site Network Tool, which provides national and regional planners, governments and agencies with easy access to comprehensive data on more than 3000 sites used by waterbird species throughout the Africa-Eurasia Flyway.

Robust science underpins all our conservation work. Do you want to know more about the Science behind BirdLife? Search all BirdLife scientific reports and case studies on our Data Zone, all of our research is open source and available for free to the public.

Do you want to know more? Search all BirdLife case studies.

Citizen conservationists

Our work is supported by citizen scientists all over the world, volunteers who help to tag, count and monitor species across the globe. Visit our DataZone to find out how you can become a citizen scientist.

Launched by BirdLife in 2006, the citizen science project Spring Alive helps children across Europe and Africa learn about the incredible journeys undertaken by migrating birds ,and the threats and challenges they face en route, by encouraging them to record and celebrate the arrival of five iconic migratory birds (Barn SwallowCommon SwiftCommon CuckooWhite Stork and European Bee-eater).

The popular EuroBirdwatch is its autumn version.

Join the BirdLife World Bird Club and be part of our work. Or subscribe to the magazine and find out more!