Flyways of the Americas
The flyways traveled by birds each spring and fall inspire our model for organizational alignment.
Select a bird to learn more about its journey along the flyways.
Pacific Flyway: Whimbrel
A large shorebird with a long, curved bill, the Whimbrel nests in the far north: the tundra and boreal forests of Alaska and Canada. Audubon’s work to protect Arctic wilderness and national forests in Alaska helps save the Whimbrel’s nesting grounds. After the breeding season, Whimbrels that nest in western North America migrate south along the Pacific Coast, stopping to rest and feed on beaches and other shorelines. Along the way, they benefit from the work Audubon does to protect the coastal habitat and wetlands that they need. Many Whimbrels migrate south all the way to Chile, where Audubon works in partnership with Chilean conservation organization CEPCAN to protect the habitat that Whimbrels and other birds need there. As spring begins to dawn on the Northern Hemisphere, Whimbrels again begin the long journey north.
Central Flyway: Sandhill Crane
The Sandhill Crane is one of North America’s tallest and most iconic birds, with a rolling, bugling call that heralds the changing seasons. In the Central Flyway, Sandhill Cranes are known for their sweeping migrations across the vast plains and prairies. Sandhill Cranes gather in enormous concentrations in critical wetland habitats throughout the flyway, drawing crowds of human observers to witness the spectacle. The largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes in the world occurs along the Platte River in Nebraska each spring, where half a million cranes stop over during their northward journeys. Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary protects critical 1,150 acres in the heart of the cranes’ stopover zone, where hundreds of volunteers help restore wetlands and introduce human visitors to the wonder of cranes and other migratory birds.
Mississippi Flyway: Prothonotary Warbler
The Mississippi River and its tributaries form one of the greatest river systems on the planet. The brilliant yellow Prothonotary Warbler spends its summers in forested wetlands throughout the Mississippi River basin. With a cheerful song and its famous good looks, the bird goes by local names like “golden swamp canary.” But the presence of the bird is tied to the health of the wetlands. Cut down the trees, and the warbler disappears. From Minnesota to Louisiana, Audubon’s work to protect and restore forested wetlands is helping ensure a future for Prothonotary Warblers. Our scientists are working to understand their migration patterns, and our sanctuaries on the Gulf Coast provide crucial migratory stopover habitat. And farther south, our partnerships in countries like Belize and Panama are helping to protect the tropical forests where these beautiful birds spend the winter months.
Atlantic Flyway: Black-throated Blue Warbler
The jewel-like Black-throated Blue Warbler migrates through the eastern United States. It nests in southern Canada, the northern United States, and the Appalachian Mountains, where its buzzy song reverberates in leafy forest canopies. Like all migratory birds, this bird depends on healthy nesting grounds, healthy migratory stopover sites, and healthy wintering grounds. Audubon’s work with forest owners in the eastern United States is helping to ensure that the Black-throated Blue Warbler and dozens of other birds have the habitat that they need to raise their young successfully. Our work to protect urban parks and coastal migrant traps and to reduce building collisions along the heavily urbanized Atlantic seaboard is helping maintain safer migratory pathways for Black-throated Blue Warblers, and our growing partnerships in the Caribbean and Central America will help us protect the winter homes of these birds too.
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Audubon works with 19 BirdLife International partners and others across the Americas to protect birds throughout their annual life cycles of breeding, migration, and wintering. Learn more »