Migratory Birds & Habitat Programs
Pacific Region
 

What is a Migratory Bird?

The dictionary definition of migratory bird is a bird that travels from one place to another at regular times often over long distances. 

However, the regulatory definition of migratory bird is much different.  In regulation, a migratory bird is a bird of a species that belongs to a family or group of species present in the United State as well as Canada, Japan, Mexico, or Russia.  Most native bird species (birds naturally occurring in the United States) belong to a protected family and are therefore protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For more detail, please keep reading. However, in general:

If it is native bird, it is protected.   

 

Is there a list?

Yes, the Service keeps a list of all species considered migratory birds and protected by regulation. This list is called the 10.13 (ten-thirteen) list and is reviewed and updated regularly. Take me to the 10.13 List!

In addition to the regulatory 10.13 list, the Migratory Birds and Habitat Program additional lists of species of particular conservation or management concern. These are Focal Species, Birds of Conservation Concern, and Birds of Management Concern.

 

What Species Qualify for Protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act?

A species qualifies for protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by meeting one or more of the following four criteria:

(1) It (a) Belongs to a family or group of species named in the Canadian convention of 1916, as amended in 1996; (b) specimens, photographs, videotape recordings, or audiotape recordings provide convincing evidence of natural occurrence in the United
States or its territories; and (c) the documentation of such records has been recognized by the American Ornithologists Union (AOU) or other competent scientific authorities.

(2) It (a) Belongs to a family of group of species named in the Mexican convention of 1936, as amended in 1972; (b) specimens, photographs, videotape recordings, or audiotape recordings provide convincing evidence of natural occurrence in the United
States or its territories; and (c) the documentation of such records has been recognized by the AOU or other competent scientific authorities.

(3) It is a species listed in the annex to the Japanese convention of 1972.

(4) It is a species listed in the appendix to the Russian convention of 1976.

 

What Species Are Not Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act?

The MBTA does not apply to species that fall into any of the following categories:

(1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance.

(2) Species that are native and belong to families not covered by any of the conventions implemented by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. However, these species are often protected by the states within which they reside.

Can’t find what you need?  Have a recommendation for information that would be helpful on this page?  We appreciate your feedback.

Last updated: March 27, 2014

Migratory Birds & Habitat Programs Home
Pacific Region Home

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  | USA.gov  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA