In brief: Flyway of migratory birds

In brief: Flyway of migratory birds

What is a flyway?

  • Flyways are akin to highways in the sky for migratory birds.
  • The area covered by migratory birds over the course of its annual cycle is known as the flyway of that bird.
  • The migration routes often follow a north-south axis covering more than 30 countries.
  • They are seasonal in the sense that they move to milder climates at lower latitudes during their non-breeding season
  • The seasonal annual cycle of migratory birds includes:
    • Breeding in the north
    • Moulting (shedding of feathers)
    • Staging (resting)
    • non-breeding in the south
  • Birldlife International has designated migratory routes as 8 flyways in the world.
  • Importance: Identifying flyways is an important measure towards joint conservation of the migratory birds as it passes through more than 30 countries during its annual cycle.


Types of Flyways

Flyways in India

  • India is an integral part of 3 flyways.
  • About 370 species of migratory birds visit the Indian subcontinent mostly the wetlands of India as staging sites.

Central Asian Flyway

  • Encompasses migration routes over 30 countries for water-birds linking their northernmost breeding ground in Siberia to the southernmost non-breeding grounds in west and south Asia, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory.
  • National Action Plan
    • In September 2018, India launched a National Action Plan to save migratory birds flying in the Central Asian Flyway.
    • India is a critical stopover site to over 90% of the bird species in Central Asian Flyway.
    • Includes measures to manage wetlands and coastal areas used by 310 species of migratory birds.

East Asian-Australasian Flyway

  • Encompasses 22 countries extending from Arctic Circle, through East and South-east Asia including eastern India and Andaman and Nicobar Islands., to Australia and New Zealand.
  • About 178 waterbird species use this migration path every year.

Asian East African Flyway

  • Covers parts of western India.


Importance of Andaman and Nicobar Island

  • Andaman and Nicobar Island is an important staging site (resting) for migratory birds.
  • In the aftermath of Tsunami, the number of migratory birds spotted in A&N Islands has increased.
  • The latest birds that have been spotted include Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Zappey’s Flycatcher and Javan Pond Heron.
  • Bronze Cuckoo
    • Breeding site – Australia / Wintering site – New Guinea.
  • Zappey’s Flycatcher
    • Breeding site – China / Wintering site – Malay peninsula
  • Javan Pond Heron
    • Native of Thailand and Cambodia.


Section : Environment & Ecology