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What is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act?

You may have heard of the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 while doing research on bird control. Due to the act, it is illegal to move a bird's nest or in any way harm those birds protected by the act. Almost every bird species in North America is protected by this act.

What exactly does the Migratory Bird Act Treaty say? According to Wikipedia:

"The statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell nearly 1,100 species of birds listed therein as migratory birds. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests."

Essentially, the law makes it so that you cannot interfere with a bird's life or way of existence in any way.

There are only three birds not protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918: feral pigeons, European starlings, and house sparrows. The reason these birds are not protected by the act is because they are not native to North America. These species are in some ways considered invasive species.

Pigeons, starlings, and sparrows were introduced to North America in small numbers during the 1800's and spread across the continent in droves. A few hundred of these birds were introduced to New York City to control insect populations in Central Park. Today, they number in the hundreds of millions across North America.

Although these birds are not protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918, we in no way advise moving a nest yourself. These birds may be protected by state or jurisdiction laws, and it is never a safe move to move a bird's nest yourself. Birds nests are hosts to disease and parasites and the birds will likely get territorial.

Every other bird species in North America is protected by the Migratory Bird Act Treaty. This includes Canada Geese, turkey vultures, seagulls, crows, blackbirds, barn swallows, and chimney swifts. It is illegal to move a nest, take the eggs or feathers of such a bird, or to harm or kill any and all of these birds.

In January 2021, the U.S. government stopped enforcing penalties for businesses or individuals accidentally killing birds, but as of October 2021 the penalties have resumed.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits for otherwise prohibited activities under the act. These include permits for taxidermy, falconry, propagation, scientific and educational use, and depredation, an example of the last being the killing of geese near an airport, where they pose a danger to aircraft." (Wikipedia)

If birds have nested on your property, it is possible to get a permit to relocate the birds. Most of the time in order to do this, a wildlife management contractor will have to file the permit. In some cases, they will need both a federal and a state permit to perform the relocation. This is why we advise calling up a bird control company if you have a problem with birds already nesting.

There are scenarios where it is important to get a bird's nest moved within the bounds of the law. Such scenarios include if the nest is posing a fire hazard or the birds themselves are causing a hazard to people. In those scenarios, your best bet is to call a bird control company! They will help you in removing the bird nests and fixing the bird problem.

Most bird control companies also install bird exclusion and bird deterrence devices like bird netting or bird wire. These devices are allowed within the bounds of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They do not interfere with or impact the birds themselves, but rather block and deter birds from remaining or entering into an area, such as in the rafters of a building, underneath solar panels, or on the ledges of a rooftop.

If you have a bird control problem, usually one of the first questions we ask is if the birds have already nested. If the birds have already nested, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is going to have to be taken into consideration. If the birds have not already nested, the problem is going to be much easier to solve, and can usually be fixed by installing bird exclusion and deterrence devices.

AviAway professionally installs bird control solutions for all bird species. We have 30+ years of experience in bird control and have performed work for companies like Amazon, Rite Aid, and the U.S. Postal Service. Click here or call 844-247-3373 to request a free bird control quote.


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