As the name indicates, this migration path follows the Mississippi River, spanning the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Canada. It also branches off into the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley.

With no mountains blocking the way, the Mississippi Flyway provides a clear path that provides plenty of cover and wetland for the migrating birds to grab a bite and nap. Twice a year, 325 bird species travel the Mississippi Flyway, including 40% of shorebirds. So if you’d like to learn new species, two must-visit places in the spring and fall are the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (which spans Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois) and Wisconsin’s Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.

Mississippi Flyway

Which states are in the Mississippi Flyway?

The Mississippi Flyway includes 21 states in the central U.S., following the path of the mighty Mississippi.

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arkansas
  4. Indiana
  5. Illinois
  6. Iowa
  7. Kansas
  8. Kentucky
  9. Louisiana
  10. Ohio
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Michigan
  13. Minnesota
  14. Missouri
  15. Mississippi
  16. Nebraska
  17. North Dakota
  18. South Dakota
  19. Tennessee
  20. Texas
  21. Wisconsin

Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warbler | Banu R / iStock / via Getty Images

Which songbirds can be found along the Mississippi Flyway?

Half of the North American bird species spend at least part of their lives on the Mississippi Flyway. Even if you’re not planning a birding trip, the change of seasons is a great time to be more attentive to the kinds of birds visiting your backyard.

Warblers are highly sought after along the Mississippi Flyway during migration season. Colorful and elusive, few species visit feeders, but a road trip to a nature preserve for a hike and casual birding at the right time can be fruitful. Kirtland’s Warbler is high on the list of rare birds to look for, along with the Magnolia Warbler, Swainson’s Warbler, and the Cerulean Warbler.

Otherwise, here are some traveling birds to watch for along the Mississippi Flyway by spring and fall:

What to feed birds traveling the Mississippi Flyway?

As the seasons change, clean, stocked feeders and fresh water will provide an inviting oasis for traveling birds.

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