Many shorebird species breed in one place, and when the breeding season ends and the climate begins to change, they migrate to places with friendlier climates. These journeys take place along flyways, which offer the birds the feeding resources and spaces to rest and refuel they require. It is a round trip between the breeding and wintering grounds, a complete annual cycle governed by the seasons.
In the Americas, three main flyways connect North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The Atlantic and Pacific flyways are populated by shorebirds that prefer or require coastal environments. In contrast, the Midcontinent flyway is used by shorebirds that inhabit interior habitats, such as lowland and highland grasslands, inland swamps and wetlands, and non-natural habitats.
As you can imagine, shorebirds face many challenges and threats along their migratory journey. Their survival depends on each of the localities they visit along the flyway being able to meet their ecological requirements. Ensuring that these birds arrive year after year thus requires coordinated efforts over a huge geographical range that stretches from the Arctic to Patagonia and covers diverse habitats from the Great Plains of North America, the Mississippi River Valley, the Andes, the Amazon, the Pampas, and the Patagonian Steppe.