Migratory Birds and Flyways - Asia - Wiki

Crested_tern444_--Benjamint 0518, 29 September 2007 (UTC), edited by Fir0002-wiki


BirdLife International’s Asia Flyway Programme focuses on globally threatened migratory waterbirds from across Asia, as well as on other common birds that have declining populations.

Every year, millions of birds make an epic journey over thousands of kilometres, looping between their summer breeding grounds and their wintering grounds, along migratory paths known as flyways.

Migratoy path of the Bar Tailed gowit (Limosa lapponica)

The Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica holds the record for the longest continuous journey by a landbird flying over 11,000km between Alaska and New Zealand


Three flyways cross Asia: West Pacific Flyway, East-Asian Australasian Flyway and West Asian Flyway. BirdLife works most closely within the East-Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF), as this flyway covers the majority of our Asian partners.

nine major migratory waterbird flyways largely based on Shorebirds © 2010 Partnership for EAAF.


Image: nine major migratory waterbird flyways largely based on Shorebirds © 2010 Partnership for EAAF.

Millions of birds of at least 178 species use this migration path every year. In fact, the EAAF is used by more waterbird species in total, and more globally threatened or near threatened species, than any other of the world’s flyways. Such species include the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, the Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini, both of which are Critically Endangered.

A dangerous flight

Sadly, Asia’s migrating birds are rapidly losing their critical stop-over sites where they normally rest and recover for the next leg of their journey. Wetlands are being drained, and enormous areas of intertidal mudflats are being lost to infrastructure (aquaculture and other farming) and land reclamation. Several countries in Asia have already lost over half of their intertidal areas.

There are many other disruptions along the flyways that are affecting migratory bird populations.

  • Physical obstacles such as power lines or wind farms kill many birds.
  • Despite legal protection in many countries, hunting remains quite common.
  • Many existing threats are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, for example through habitat loss in the Arctic tundra, or by de-coupling food availability with stop-over times.

Other issues in the flyway include:

  • Inadequate information on waterbird populations and habitats
  • Urgent need to build capacity in monitoring
  • Lack of public awareness of migratory birds and their habitats
  • Environmental considerations are often outweighed by economic development goals


The BirdLife Partnership provides a unique opportunity to achieve the conservation of key points along flyways. International collaboration is the only way to conserve migratory birds as they pass along their international flyways. Of the 22 countries within the EAAF, BirdLife has Partners in 11 and works with local organisations in 5 more of these countries. BirdLife will continue to work with Partners and local organisations in countries across Asia to conserve critical migratory bird habitat all along the flyways.

The Flyways Programme in Asia has significant overlaps with BirdLife’s global policy and science work. For example, the Convention on Migratory Species aims to conserve migratory species across the world, which includes the many birds that migrate along the EAAF. The Convention on Wetlands (the Ramsar Convention)  provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

We are also working closely with Partners and researchers to help identify key sites for migratory bird stop-overs, and ensuring these sites are included as Important Bird Areas.

Further information

Video explaining the BirdLife Asia Flyways Programme

Fact sheet on the East Asia-Australasia Flyway 

Fact sheet on the Central Asian Flyway