Flyways—the life giving, ancient pathways for birds from their breeding grounds to wintering areas—are an integral part of the bird migration story.
The Pacific Americas Flyway, spanning from Alaska to the tip of South America, supports millions of migratory birds. Western Sandpiper, Pacific Loon, Pacific Brant, and hundreds of other species follow this general north-south route in spring and fall. Some of our other breeding birds, such as Sandhill Crane, Lesser Scaup and White-fronted Goose, migrate further to the east along the Central or Mississippi Flyways.
The Bar-tailed Godwit, Pacific Golden Plover, and Bristle-thighed Curlew, among others, take a different route and travel the West Pacific and East Asian-Australasian Flyways. These journeys take them across vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean.
World Flyway Map
Some birds cannot be pinned down to one or even two flyways. The Blackpoll Warbler breeds in the boreal forest, then migrates east across Canada before dropping south to the Atlantic Ocean and over to South America, and the Northern Wheatear visits both Alaska and Africa during its annual migration.
Wherever they land, birds need healthy habitats to sustain them. Pacific Birds is working with partners to assess where those habitats are and to identify the key conservation actions that will allow our birds to continue making their epic migrations.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee recently ‘inscribed’ some wetland habitats along the Yellow Sea to the World Heritage List. It matters to Pacific Birds since both Alaska and the Yellow Sea are within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
About half of Alaska’s breeding shorebird species are thought to be in decline. The good news is that a lot has been learned in the past ten years, and that knowledge is incorporated into Version III of the Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan.