American Atlantic Flyway

From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Shorebirds Sister Schools Program

American Atlantic Route DescriptionAtlantic Flyway

Facts About the Flyway
Northern Atlantic Region

  • This is the most heavily populated area in the United States.
  • Wetlands are affected by development. Still, beaches in this region are essential, highquality habitat for shorebirds.
  • This region is considered critical to the survival of Red Knots, Piping Plovers, and Whimbrels.
  • The Delaware Bay was the first WHSRN site. It supports huge concentrations of spring migrants that feast on horseshoe crab eggs.
  • There is good access to shorebird viewing opportunities. Large portions of publicly owned coastal habitat and strong state land use regulations have strengthened local support for shorebird conservation.

South East Coastal Plain/Caribbean Region

  • This is an important area for breeding American Oystercatchers, Snowy Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, and Piping Plovers.
  • Over five million shorebirds use the 50,000 acres of publicly managed wetlands in this region.

Shorebirds Most Characteristic of the American Atlantic Flyway

With the exception of the Piping Plover, shorebirds on this list are common and can be observed by students. The list is also a “snapshot” of species diversity in the flyway, providing a variety of natural history stories to learn about. Shorebirds that are rare on this flyway are noted with an asterisk. Consider having your students research these shorebirds using this web site, the library, and the World Wide Web.

  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Red Knot
  • Willet
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Piping Plover*
  • Least Sandpiper

The American Atlantic Flyway extends from the offshore waters of the Atlantic Coast west to the Appalachian Mountains. Many birds using the American Atlantic Flyway start at the southern tip of South America or the coast of Chile and then move through the interior of South America (Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, and Suriname) and across the Caribbean. They reach the United States touching Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. From there they head to James Bay and Hudson Bay in Canada. The Atlantic Flyway is divided into two geographic areas: the Northern Atlantic and the South East Coastal Plain/Caribbean.