Neotropical Flyways Project

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Status – current


The populations of many Neotropical migratory birds have shown persistent declines in recent decades and species that were considered common just 40 years ago are becoming increasingly scarce. Migratory birds are fundamental to ecosystem function globally and they provide us with many essential services such as pest control and seed dispersal, reason enough to try to reverse these declines. To do this, we must first understand the complex life cycle of these birds in order to understand their needs and to be able to determine where and when populating limiting processes occur.

Setophaga fusca - Yuly Caicedo

Close to 300 species of migratory landbirds, whose combined populations represent more than one billion individuals, migrate between the Neotropics and North America. Many species make an annual round trip of more than 10,000 km and, often, it is those species that migrate farthest that are disappearing quickest. Of all the periods of the life cycle, migration is the least understood and, yet, 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, the Neotropical Flyway Project will work in six countries in Central and South America in order 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.

Key Findings and Achievements to date

  • In March 2016, 9 biologists and birdwatchers from Colombia were trained in the identification and monitoring of migratory birds during a week-long training course.
  • During spring migration (March-May), the team surveyed 242 transects on 4104 occasions covering 16 sites located throughout northern Colombia.
  • The team recorded 14,090 migratory birds through transects and 163,288 during visible migration counts belonging to 71 species.
  • Initial findings include the discovery of previously unknown stopover regions where species like the Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Bay-breasted Warbler attain the energy they require in order to undertake their spectacular migrations.
  • Fall surveys in northern Colombia reveal unknown stopover region for Blackpoll Warbler and Alder Flycatcher in the Guajira peninsula.
  • Mourning Warblers make unexpected stopover in tropical dry forests along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, staying for an average of 4.3 days and increasing their energy reserves by 40% – we await detections of radiotransmitters to see if birds made non-stop flights to North America.

 Carlos Bran - Abibe Marzo (44)

 Coccyzus americanus - Yuly Caicedo 2

Documents for download


Bayly, N.J., Rosenberg, K.V., Easton, W.E., Gómez, C., Carlisle, J., Ewert, D.N., Drake, A. & Goodrich, L. (2017) Major stopover regions and migratory bottlenecks for Nearctic-Neotropical landbirds within the Neotropics: a review. Bird Conservation International 00:00-00. PDF

Publications in preparation

Rubio, M., Santos-Díaz, D. y Bayly, N.J. en prep. New records of Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) for the Caribbean coast of Colombia and their relation with el Niño events.

Presentations in the V Congreso de Ornitología Colombiana:
Caicedo, A., Ocampo, D. y Bayly, N.J. 2016. Diversity and occupancy rates of migratory birds along an elevation gradient in the Central Andes of Colombia. Oral Presentation. PDF (in Spanish)


Dry forest migration study
Yellow-billed Cuckoo fundraising appeal (2017)

Region wide stations - V2 - low


– Cornell Lab of Ornithology
– Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada
– Paso Pacifico Rapid Action Grants
– Acadia University, Canada
– Guelph University, Canada

If you are interested in supporting this project over the next 5 years, please do not hesitate to contact 

Project Team
Directors – Dr. Nicholas Bayly & Dr. Ken Rosenberg

Colombia – José Luis Pushaina, Danilo Santos, Omar Gutierrez, Yuly Caicedo, Carlos Gonzalez, David Ocampo, Adriana de Pilar Caicedo, Carlos Bran, Martha Rubio.

Panama – Chelina Batista, Guido Berguido, Jorge Garzon, Luis Paz, Jacobo

Costa Rica – Ernesto Carman (Proyecto Cerulea), Jairo Jiménez, Maria la Paz, Julio Madriz

Volunteers – Pete Blancher, Ruth Bennett, Becky Keller, Anna Lello-Smith

Equipo Colombia 2016
This Project would not be possible without alliances with the following institutions and individuals:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, National Parks of Colombia, ADOPTA Panamá, Proyecto Cerulea, Motus Wildlife Tracking System.

Jose Luis & Ken - Flamencos