It’s Illegal


Bird nests are not homes. Birds use nests to raise babies. They will not use them in winter. Still, it is illegal to collect them. Except photographically!

I think one of the biggest surprises to people who come on a walk with me is when I tell them that it is illegal to collect nests and feathers from migratory birds.  Yep.  Illegal.

“What is the harm?” they want to know.  Especially at this time of year when the birds are obviously done using the nest.

There was a time when bird nests, eggs, and even the birds themselves were collected to the point that populations were put at risk.  People made room decorations and hats from birds and their nests and eggs.  Yikes.

In 1918 the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed to protect birds from this kind of exploitation.

You can’t collect nests.  So, take pictures instead!

Click here to read about Audubon and the use of birds on hats.
Read the Migratory Bird Act by clicking here.

4 thoughts on “It’s Illegal

  1. I have read elsewhere that you can’t disturb an active nest, which makes sense to me. But people are widely advised, including by the Audubon Society, to clean nests out of birdhouses, so surely that can’t be illegal. Also, I have some nesting shelves where phoebes or robins have built successive nests on top of each other to the point where they might soon not be able to build another. Since they always build a new nest every year, I don’t see why it would be a problem to clean off the old nests. I have also collected small nests that I have found on the ground. And sometimes I just have to prune back dense shrubbery. I certainly appreciate the spirit of the law, but making it absolute seems to defy common practice. Audubon even sells birdhouses with a door for cleaning them out.

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