Waterfowl in the genera Anas and Tadorna are suspected as vectors in the long-distance transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1. The former Soviet Republics of Central Asia are situated at an important migratory crossroads for these and other species of birds that bridges regions where the disease is prevalent. However, waterfowl movements through Central Asia are poorly quantified. In this study, historical data derived from over 80 years of bird ringing are combined with recent satellite tracking data to delineate migration routes, movement chronology and habitat use patterns of waterfowl in relation to H5N1 outbreak locations. Results confirm migratory linkage between breeding and moulting areas in northern Kazakhstan and southern Siberia, with nonbreeding areas in the Caspian, Black and eastern Mediterranean Sea basins, as well as with South Asia. However, unlike the situation in neighbouring regions, most notably western China, H5N1 outbreaks have not been recurrent in Central Asia after they were first reported during summer 2005 and spring 2006. These findings have implications in relation to potential sampling biases, species-specific variation in migratory behaviour and continuing regional H5N1 transmission risks.