Planning Ahead to Protect Nesting Birds

Many activities have the potential to impact birds in Alaska. These activities can range in scale from large landscape-level infrastructure development to small backyard projects, such as clearing trees and vegetation. Even activities designed to help improve habitat may have short-term, negative impacts on birds if not planned properly. Birds are most sensitive during breeding and nesting, when vegetation clearing, ground disturbance, and other site construction activities can destroy active bird nests, eggs, or nestlings. The most effective way to protect nesting birds is to conduct these activities before or after the breeding season. The following table provides timing recommendations to help you plan ahead to minimize impacts to nesting birds.

Timing recommendations for land disturbance and vegetation clearing

 

Forest/Woodland

Shrub/Open

Seabird colonies

incl. cliff & burrow colonies

Eagles (*e)

Southeast Alaska

15 April-15 July (*a)

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

1 May-5 September

1 March-31 August

Kodiak Archipelago

15 April-15 July (*a)

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

15 April-7 September

1 March-31 August

Southcentral Lake Iliamna to Copper River Delta; north to Talkeetna

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

15 April-7 September

1 March-31 August

Bristol Bay/Alaska Peninsula north to Lake Iliamna

1 May-15 July (*a,b,c)

1 May-15 July (*a,b,c)

10 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

Interior north of Talkeetna to south slope Brooks Range; west to treeline

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

1 May-15 July (*a,b)

1 May-20 July (*d)

1 March-31 August

Aleutian Islands

N/A

25 April-15 July (*a)

1 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

1 May-15 July

5May-25 July (*a,b,c)

20 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

Seward Peninsula

1 May-15 July

10 May-20 July (*a,c)

20 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

Northern including northern foothills of Brooks Range

N/A

1 June-31 July (*a,c)

20 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

Pribilof/Bering Sea Islands

N/A

15 May-15 July (*a)

15 May-15 September

1 March-31 August

(*a) Raptors may nest 2+ months earlier than other birds.
(*b) Canada geese and swans begin nesting April 20.
(*c) Black scoter are known to nest through August 10.
(*d) Seabird colonies in Interior refer to terns and gulls
(*e) Eagles and eagle nests have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and a permit may be required to conduct activities near an eagle nest. Learn more: eagle nesting

Use the timing recommendations in the table above to plan your project. If you encounter an active nest at any time, leave it in place and protected until young hatch and depart. “Active” nests include those with intact eggs or live chicks or presence of an adult on the nest. Do not destroy eggs, chicks, or adults of wild bird species!

Did you know that the United States began prioritizing bird conservation as early as 1918, with the establishment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)? In Alaska, the MBTA protects most native birds. Some species and their nests may have additional protections under other federal laws, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Following the timing recommendations above should considerably reduce the risk of inadvertently destroying an active nest, but final compliance with the law is your responsibility.

If you have any questions regarding the MBTA or the timing recommendations, including for projects that may occur in ‘transition areas’ between regions described in the table, contact your local USFWS Field Office for assistance.