Tomorrow, May 11, is International Migratory Bird Day. In honor of this holiday, Nota Bene is proud to present this collection of resources as a reference when dealing with issues relating to migratory birds, and as a source of legal information to delight and amaze your friends.*
The United States first addressed the state of migratory birds with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, followed by the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929. Since then, a number of statutes have been passed to further enhance protections for migratory birds. Updates to statutes and regulations, along with general information about migratory birds, are available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Local birdwatchers already know that Texas is a prime destination for birding. For those interested in becoming birdwatchers, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has published guides on migratory birds and how to watch them.
Birdwatchers may not be aware that laws protecting birds cover feathers as well as the birds themselves and their eggs. Possessing even part of a protected bird is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, as there is no way to distinguish a naturally shed feather picked up off of the ground from a feather plucked by a poacher. The only exception is the Eagle Feather Law, which limits the taking of birds, feathers or eggs to persons licensed to use them in limited numbers for display in zoos, scientific research or Native American religious practices. Other birdwatchers who might want a souvenir should either take a photograph or consider buying a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, a/k/a the Federal Duck Stamp.
For those interested, it is illegal to hunt migratory birds on their holiday: Federal and Texas laws limit how and when one may hunt migratory birds, and no migratory birds are currently in season in Texas. In honor of International Migratory Bird Day, avid hunters should bag themselves a Duck Stamp instead, since you can’t hunt migratory birds without one.
Have a safe and happy International Migratory Bird Day.
* Warning: not all friends are delighted and amazed by legal information. Please use responsibly.