Nature’s Past Episode 21: Migratory Birds on the Pacific Flyway

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Episode 21: Migratory Birds on the Pacific Flyway

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Migratory birds, by the nature of their behavior, cross boundaries. They are transcontinental species whose habitat in North America ranges from the Canadian arctic to Mexico. As such, the human conservation of these species has historically been complicated by the challenge of managing a mobile resource. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty  between Canada and the United States was one example of the need to work across boundaries and borders in order to conserve these species of birds. But even within national borders, the conservation of migratory birds faced trans-boundary challenges.

One of the greatest threats to migratory wildfowl on the Pacific coast of North America was the draining and destruction of wetlands in the U.S. West, particularly in California. By the early twentieth-century, irrigation agricultural dominated the landscape of most of the former wetland wintering range of migratory birds. As such, the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey (later the Fish and Wildlife Service) set out to establish a system of refuges to conserve and protect migratory wildfowl along, what came to be known as the Pacific Flyway.

On this episode, we speak with Robert M. Wilson, author of the new book, Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscape of the Pacific Flyway.

Book Cover: Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscape of the Pacific Flyway.


Robert M. Wilson

Works Cited:

Sean Kheraj, Canadian History & Environment

Robert M. Wilson, Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010.

Transnational Ecologies Project, Network in Canadian History and Environment

Music Credits:

“On the Beach (at Night)” by Pitx

“Garden of the Forking” by D.J. Lang

“Gleeful Budapest” by AIR_LOMEG

Photo Credit:

“Consumnes River Preserve” by mypubliclands


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 21: Migratory Birds on the Pacific Flyway” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 31 March 2011

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Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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