Bird migration is one of the great wonders of the natural world. A huge variety of birds make the journey: the tiny Rufous Hummingbird migrates up and down the North American continent, while the Arctic Tern, BirdLife’s emblem, migrates from pole to pole. In fact, roughly one in five bird species migrate.
Birds know no borders
Migration is a huge feat of endurance requiring great strength and stamina. However, today birds face additional threats caused by human activity. Hungry, exhausted birds may arrive at a stopover site, only to find that it has been destroyed by farming or urbanisation. Every year, millions of birds are illegally killed by hunters, or collide with man-made structures such as powerlines. And climate change is causing habitats to shift or disappear.
When travelling between their breeding and wintering grounds, birds don’t choose their paths at random. They follow set routes that include suitable habitats where they can stop to rest and refuel along the way. Many different species share broadly similar routes, which have been loosely split into eight major flyways – think of them as bird super-highways across the sky. BirdLife links together conservation organisations in countries along the length of the flyways, combining resources and coordinating action to protect birds on every step of their route. Our Flyways Programme focuses on protecting birds across all major global flyways.
Americas Flyway: three flyways that connect North America with Caribbean and Central and South America
African-Eurasian Flyway: three flyways that connect Europe and northern Asia with Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa
Central Asian Flyway: connects northern Asia with southern Asia and Middle East
East Asian-Australasian Flyway: connects north-east Asia with south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Our network of over 2 million birders, scientists and local volunteers helps us to track, follow, analyse, conserve and understand every bird species in the world.
Select a flyway on our interactive tool and follow migrating birds to see
The Partnership in action.
How we protect birds everywhere they they fly, feed, rest and nest
Supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), BirdLife and our local partners are guiding conservation projects Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot – a series of coastal zones fabulously rich in biodiversity, yet threatened by unrestrained coastal development.
In recent years, vulture populations across Africa have declined catastrophically. Seven out of the 11 African vulture species are now at risk of extinction. Over the last 50 years we have seen vulture population declines of 80-97%, including a 92% decline in five African vulture species.
BirdLife protects birds by protecting the places they live and travel through. For almost 50 years, the BirdLife Partnership has worked together to identify and protect the places of greatest significance for the conservation of the world’s birds and the wildlife they need to thrive. We call them Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
It’s the middle of winter. Bird migration is at its peak. You’re hiking deep in the Mediterranean shrubland, on the lookout for illegal traps, snares and nets. If this kind of adventure appeals to you, BirdLife’s Italian partner, LIPU, organises camps that do this every year – and they get results. This is their story.
Conservation isn’t just about preserving pristine natural habitats. To thoroughly address the climate and extinction crises, we also need to restore ecosystems that have been degraded or converted to other uses. But where to start? BirdLife’s Chief Scientist Dr Stuart Butchart discusses a new study he co‑authored.
Massive but mysterious: for decades, little was known about the Sei Whale. But thanks to ground-breaking research, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) have now been declared a Key Biodiversity Area based on their status as a vital habitat for the species.
They started out as three staff in a rented room, and have become a national institution with the country’s biggest citizen science database. Read about the journey of our Polish Partner OTOP, from hatchling to fully-fledged conservation organisation.