Nature’s rush hour

By Leigh Patterson

By Leigh Patterson | October 5, 2016

Most of the bird species found in Canada—around 90 per cent of them—do not spend the winter here.

They migrate farther south, anywhere from the southern United States to the southernmost tip of South America. 

Bird migration is awesome. It’s nature’s version of rush hour. And yes, there’s a lot of honking. Traffic is steady when millions of birds are on the move. There’s no GPS guiding these journeys… just straight up intuition hardwired by ancient instincts.

Many species regularly use certain routes.  These routes are called flyways. Think of them as nature’s superhighways. These flyways have been best described for waterfowl.  One species may use several flyways depending on how widespread the different populations are.

There are four main waterfowl flyways. Which one do you live in?

Pacific Flyway

Pacific Flyway
Pacific Flyway

Used by:

  • Ross’s goose
  • Northern pintail
  • American wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Northern shoveler
  • Lesser scaup
  • Canada goose
  • White-fronted goose

Central Flyway

Central Flyway
Central Flyway

Used by:

  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Blue-winged teal
  • Green-winged teal
  • Canvasback
  • Lesser scaup
  • Canada goose

Mississippi Flyway

Mississippi Flyway
Mississippi Flyway

Used by:

  • Mallard
  • Snow goose
  • Canada goose
  • Northern pintail
  • American wigeon
  • Gadwall
  • Blue-winged teal
  • Green-winged teal
  • Ring-necked duck
  • Lesser scaup

Atlantic Flyway

Atlantic Flyway
Atlantic Flyway

Used by:

  • Snow goose
  • Canada goose
  • American black duck
  • Canvasback
  • Redhead
  • Lesser scaup
  • Greater scaup

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