Save America's migratory birds

Become a Friend Across The Flyway

Friends across the Flyway. Migratory birds in America needs your help.

What’s happening to the Americas migratory birds?

Every fall, thousands of shorebirds prepare to embark on the ultimate American road trip.

Departing their breeding grounds in the remote Artic, these tiny birds risk death by traveling thousands of kilometres south to their tropical wintering grounds in South America.

Some, such as the Red Knot, navigate the entire length of the Americas, finishing their epic journey in Tierra del Fuego, on Argentina’s very southern tip. By doing so, they face exhaustion, starvation and predation. But it is a risk they have to take if they are to survive the winter.


the migration map of the canada warbler Cornell Lab


But how do they get there? They don’t take roads, as such. But they take the next best thing: flyways. Flyways are the highways of the sky. Tried and tested routes used by multiple species, who know that if they take this route, there will be enough places for them to rest and refuel along the way.

The Atlantic Americas Flyway is like the Pan-American Highway for shorebirds. This route sees them hug the Atlantic Coast all the way down to Florida, make a few pit stops in the Caribbean before heading onwards to South America. This route is popular with shorebirds because its coastal and wetland habitats are rich and fertile and have sustained many generations of migratory shorebirds over the years.

However, these same qualities have made the area extremely popular with humans, too. And as human populations expand, viable shorebird habitats are disappearing.

  • For example, one third of the United States’ population live within the Flyway, leading to the loss of vital habitats as we urbanize wetlands, and flock to beaches.
  • In the Caribbean, the spread of invasive plants, introduced for ornamental reasons, is rendering important stopover sites barren and incapable of supporting life.
  • And in South America, the Red Knot arrives to find its favorite habitats converted into houses and being occupied by tourist.

Canada Warbler_calindris Canada Warbler © Asociación Calidris

These changes have already led to the apparent extinction of shorebirds such as the Eskimo Curlew, last seen in South American in 1939. And more could follow if we don’t act. The rufa sub-species of Red Knot that uses the Flyway,  has seen its numbers plummet 80% in just 20 years.

What are we doing?

In Argentina we’re making beaches safe for the Red Knot
In the Bahamas we’re safeguarding areas in National Parks
In Brazil we’re saving a National Park
In Canada we’re protecting beaches and shorelines from tourism related bird disturbances
In Colombia we’re restoring the mangroves


How can you help?

Saving migratory species requires a joined-up approach to conservation. BirdLife and our Partners are working to ensure the epic road trip undertaken by America’s shorebirds is less treacherous. Read the Partner stories to find the project you’d like to support, or simply make a donation to support conservation of the entire flyway. Your donation will help the mission to save the lives of the millions of birds facing danger in the Americas.

Donate to Friends across the Flyway

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