Spring is just around the corner, although it may not feel that way, and with it will come yard work such as raking, trimming, mowing, weeding, fertilizing, pest and disease control and more. Just remember when you are out and about cleaning up after this harsh winter and preparing your beds and gardens, do not disturb nesting birds, it is actually illegal!
According the Migratory Bird Treaty (MBTA) act of 1972: “It is illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.” There are hundreds of birds that are protected by the MBTA; part of the definition for eligibility includes any native bird that spends part of its life cycle outside of U.S. boundaries, specifically in Mexico, Canada, Japan and Russia, is considered “migratory”. For a complete, alphabetical list of species visit: http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/regulationspolicies/mbta/MBTANDX.HTML
Other criteria for protection under the MBTA include: coverage under Canadian (1916, amended in 1996), Russian (1976) and Japanese Conventions (1972); specimens, photographs, videotape recordings or audiotape recordings need to be available which provide convincing evidence of natural occurrence in the United States or its territories; these records must be recognized and accepted by the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU). Additionally, as amended to the MBTA in 2004, all species included must be native to the U.S. and its territories, it cannot have been introduced intentionally or unintentionally via human assistance.
Regulatory and enforcement authority for the MBTA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For a full explanation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, statutes and regulations, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/RegulationsPolicies/mbta/MBTA%20LIst%20of%20Brds%20Final%20Rule.pdf. And remember to keep an eye out while in your yard for any nesting or fledging birds!