Neotropical Flyways Project

About the Neotropical Flyways Project

What Happens During Migration?

Close to 300 species of migratory landbirds, with combined populations representing more than one billion individuals, migrate between the Neotropics and North America. These migratory songbirds are vitally important to the Americas because they provide services such as pest control and seed dispersal, but many of these neotropical migrants have been experiencing concerning levels of population decline over the past few decades.

If we are to reverse this trend, we must understand the factors contributing to their decline – yet we still do not know enough about these species. Of all the periods of the life cycle, migration is the least understood, but at the same time it is when the majority of mortality occurs. To fill this critical gap in our knowledge of the needs of migratory birds, ADOPTA is assisting the Neotropical Flyway Project to identify migration routes, key stopover or staging regions where the energy for migration is obtained, and the relative quality of the different habitats used in these migration routes.

Although it is only a small part of the total project, Panama is a unique location for this type of study. The narrow geography – about 50km (31 miles) at the narrowest point – tends to concentrate migrants into larger groups than observed elsewhere, making observation and collection much easier. In addition, Panama is expected to be a point of arrival and departure for species that migrate directly through the Caribbean Sea.

By using a variety of survey methods including transect, point, and feeding counts, over 250,000 individual birds representing over 60 species have already been observed, including 14 species of concern. Most of these species seem to be feeding solely on insects, although some are also using fruits to gather energy.

Quick Facts

Project Leader: SELVA
Partners: ADOPTA, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, National Parks of Columbia, Proyecto Cerulea, Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Locations: Columbia, Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize

Importance: The majority of bird mortality occurs during migration, but this is also the least understood part of many birds’ lives.

Visit the main project website for more information

What is Migration?
Learn about why and where birds migrate throughout the Americas.