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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

birds
Varies of North American Birds. Credit: USFWS

Are there special rules for possession of feathers by Native Americans?

Registered members of federally-recognized Native American tribes may possess the feathers of Bald and Golden Eagles for religious purposes. Such feathers may not be sold or traded, and new feathers must be obtained by application to the National Eagle Repository. For further information, see: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/law/eagle/.

 

Is it all right to possess the feathers of captive birds?

In general, native North American birds may be held in captivity only by zoos, rehabilitation centers, and falconers, all operating under permit. Permitted facilities and individuals may use molted feathers for educational purposes, but are not permitted to sell or distribute feathers to private individuals.

 

What about the feathers of non-North American birds?

While the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not apply to non-North American birds, other laws and treaties may do so, including the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. For example, all birds of prey, including hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls, are protected by CITES, as are almost all parrots and related birds. While it is legal to possess and sell the feathers of captive-raised cage birds, such as parrots, macaws, and pheasants, it is the responsibility of the seller to be able to demonstrate that the feathers did not come from protected wild birds.

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