About this Collection
To better protect migratory bird populations and provide more certainty for the regulated public, the Service seeks to address human-caused mortality by providing information on beneficial practices to avoid and minimize the incidental injury and killing of migratory birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the Federal agency delegated with the primary responsibility for managing migratory birds. Our authority derives from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as amended (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.), which implements treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the Russian Federation.
The Service is concerned about the current status of migratory birds. Over the last 50 years, the total population of North American birds has declined by an estimated 3 billion birds(Rosenberg et al. 2019). Many of the 1,093 species of birds protected under the MBTA (50 CFR 10.13) are experiencing population declines due to increased threats across the landscape. Both natural and human-caused sources of bird mortality cumulatively contribute to declining bird populations. Millions of birds are directly killed by human-caused sources. These mortality impacts are exacerbated by lost or degraded habitat, ecological alterations resulting from changing climate, and natural causes of mortality.
This webpage provides information for activities and projects to identify potential effects to migratory birds as well as identify and implement beneficial practices (also referred to as best management practices, conservation measures, best practices, and mitigation measures) intended to avoid and minimize the take of migratory birds.
What is my role and responsibility?
Migratory birds are a trust resource that require care by all. Service activities and Service employees should utilize this website to provide technical assistance and when reviewing Service activities and actions (See Director’s Order 225). Other federal agencies should also draw from this website to provide information and when reviewing activities and actions (See EO 13186). We recommend projects proponents explore our library of activity-related beneficial practices to identify ways to avoid and minimize injury and killing of migratory birds. There is much individuals can do at home as well.
What are stressors and how do I avoid or minimize them?
One approach to identifying if your activity may affect migratory birds is to look at common stressors. Stressors are any alteration of or addition to the environment that have an adverse impact. For migratory birds, stressors include vegetation alteration, vegetation removal, ground disturbance, structures, noise, light, chemicals, and human presence. There are often beneficial practices that can be incorporated into planning and implemented during the construction, operation, and maintenance activities that avoid and minimize the injury and killing of migratory birds. Beneficial practices guidance and resources can be found in our library of activity-related beneficial practices. Additional resources can also be found on the Beneficial Practices page of the Avian Knowledge Network.
What data and tools are available to identify species in my area?
The Service has a number of tools available to help in decision-making processes. The Service maintains a list of federal Birds of Conservation Concern. If these species are present, we recommend starting with these species to identify and avoid or minimize stressors. The Rapid Avian Information Locator (RAIL) tool and the Service's Information Planning for Conservation (IPaC) system pool multiple data sources to provide a wealth of information about the bird species within a user-defined location.
What other resources are there for bird information?
For biological or ecological information on bird species, we recommend the following. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology eBird site provides detailed information by species. The State of the Birds is a general summary of current population trends. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) is a source of general bird conservation information, including Birds of Conservation Concern.
Do I include migratory birds in NEPA documents?
Impacts to migratory birds should be identified in environmental review documents, such as National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. Agencies and projects should work cooperatively to identify and, as appropriate, require implementation of beneficial practices to avoid and minimize the incidental take of migratory birds.