U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - What you need to know

Most bird nests are protected migratory , or their is In these cases, there may be no typical under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act illegal and fully prosecutable under structure like what a nesting (MBTA). This law says: “No person the MBTA. species might build. One example is may take (kill), possess, import, the Western Burrowing . These export, transport, sell, purchase, nest in abandoned of barter, or offer for sale, any migratory prairie dogs and other burrowing bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of animals. Because it is hard to know if such bird except as may be permitted an owl is present in the , they under the terms of a valid permit…” are protected at all times. They cannot Under the MBTA it is illegal to be dug up or covered over without a destroy a nest that has eggs or chicks permit. in it or if there are young birds that are still dependent on the nest for Shorebird nests may also be hard survival. It is also illegal for anyone to to identify and appear to be just a keep a nest they take out of a tree or small cup of twigs, such as those of find on the ground unless they have and , or just a scrape in a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and the ground like a nest. Wildlife Service (USFWS). Due to the biological and behavioral characteristics of some migratory bird species, destruction of their nests entails an elevated risk of violating the MBTA. For example, colonial nesting birds are highly sensitive to disturbance; destruction of their nests during or near the nesting season could result in a significant level of take. Even visitation to these rookeries by people getting too close Killdeer on its nest. Robert Burton/USFWS and subsequently disrupting nesting activities, can result in take since Nests of Bald and Golden Although some nests are remarkable, young birds may be frightened, leave are always protected under the Bald it is against the law for a person without a their nests prematurely, become and Golden Protection Act. permit to possess one for any reason. displaced, and die from starvation as Destruction of these nests requires Mark Musselman/USFWS their parents return only to the vicinity a permit at all times, whether or not of the nest site. they are occupied. Under very limited circumstances, the USFWS may issue permits to take Some nests are hard to identify, active nests. Nest removal permits making them more vulnerable to are usually only issued when the inadvertent destruction. Birds that particular nest is causing a human nest on the ground in sandy or rocky health or safety concern or the birds areas are particularly difficult to are in immediate danger. It is usually identify, as are birds that nest in required that you wait for the nest to cavities or holes in the ground. become inactive before destroying it. While it is illegal to collect, possess, or by any means transfer possession of migratory bird nests, the MBTA does not contain any prohibition that applies Nest. Tina Shaw/USFWS to the destruction of a alone (without eggs or birds), provided that For further information about bird no possession occurs during nests and permits, please contact: destruction. Even though destruction U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of nest by itself is not prohibited under Pacific Southwest Region Division of the MBTA, nest destruction that Migratory Birds and results in the unpermitted take of by emailing: [email protected] Western . USFWS