The Central Flyway is composed of the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

In the mid-1930s, Frederick Lincoln described a Central Flyway using the innovative approach of putting leg bands on ducks on the breeding grounds and then tracking their recovery. Other flyways were similarly described.

This discovery occurred at a time when the agency that became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established one set of migratory bird hunting regulations for the entire country. The idea of applying different management to different populations of ducks was born with Lincoln's information. World War II caused the nation to shift its attention away from waterfowl research and management, but post-war efforts blossomed quickly.

The Western Association of Game and Fish Conservation Commission comprised of 11 states recommended, in the fall of 1947, that management of ducks take place at the flyway level. In August, 1948, nine states in Lincoln's Central Flyway met in Glenwood Springs, Colorado at the request of C.N. Feast, Director of the Colorado Game and Fish Department. By the end of the meeting, the Central Flyway Council had been formed.