Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region

Migratory Birds

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is the lead federal agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United States. Migratory birds nest throughout North America, some as far north as the Arctic. In late summer and fall, these birds migrate south for the winter. Some winter in the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America while others go as far as South America. Then, each spring they must return north to their breeding grounds

Atlantic Flyway

Birds migrate along four main routes or flyways: the Atlantic, Central, Mississippi and Pacific. These flyways are not specific lines the birds follow but broad areas through which the birds migrate. The Chesapeake Bay watershed lies within the Atlantic Flyway.

For some birds, the Chesapeake Bay is their winter destination. About 1 million swans, geese and ducks winter on the Bay. This is roughly one third of all waterfowl wintering along the Atlantic Coast.

Many migratory songbirds, shorebirds and raptors rest and refuel here during their spring and fall migrations. Still others winter south and return to the Chesapeake Bay watershed each spring to breed.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is celebrated in May. Visit our IMBD page to learn much more about migratory birds and their needs.


Link to Bald Eagle link to black rail link to Canada goose Link to canvasback Link to cerulean warbler Link to Field Sparrow Link to Great Blue Heron Link to Red Knot Link to Osprey


Some migratory birds in the Chesapeake Bay area:

Bald Eagle

Black Rail

Canada Goose


Cerulean Warbler

Field Sparrow

Great Blue Heron

Red Knot


USFWS Office of Migratory Bird Management

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Last updated: January 28, 2011