Migratory Bird Act (MBTA)

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects migratory birds. The original 1918 statute implemented a 1916 Treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain (for Canada) for the protection of migratory birds. Later amendments implemented treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, the U.S. and Japan, and the U.S. and the Soviet Union (now Russia). Specific provisions in the statute include a Federal prohibition to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention . . . for the protection of migratory birds . . . or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird." (16 U.S.C. 703). This applies to birds included in international conventions between the U.S. and Great Britain, the U.S. and Mexico, the U.S. and Japan, and the U.S. and the Russia.

The responsibilities of Federal agencies to protect migratory birds are set forth in Executive Order 13186. US Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency for migratory birds. FSA and NRCS are currently working with USFWS to establish an MOU on migratory birds in compliance with EO 13186. The birds protected under this statute are many of our most common species, as well as birds listed as threatened or endangered. View a list of birds protected by the MBTA and other related bird information.