Conserving the Nature of America
Official Number of Protected Migratory Bird Species Climbs to More than 1,000

March 1, 2010


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould today announced revisions to the list of bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Species appearing on this list are governed under migratory bird hunting and permitting regulations concerning most aspects of possession, transportation, sale, purchase, exportation, and importation of protected species. The list, last updated in 1985, incorporates the latest taxonomic and scientific data for migratory birds. The changes include 186 new additions and 11 subtractions, bringing the total number of species protected under the MBTA to 1007.

“This update to the list of federally protected birds reflects the best available science on bird taxonomy and distribution and will help us improve management of our nation’s migratory birds,” said Gould. “The new list benefits researchers, hunters, conservationists, state agencies, tribal governments, and birdwatchers by extending federal protection to all migratory bird species native to the United States while highlighting advances and changes in bird taxonomy that have accumulated since the list was last published.”

The Service is the primary federal agency responsible for managing migratory birds. Federal migratory bird regulations, including the list, implement the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which in turn implements treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia. All species included on the list are considered federally protected, and governed by federal regulations limiting take (from the wild), possession, and other use.

The newly revised list reflects the addition of species based on new evidence of their occurrence in the United States or its territories. The revisions also remove species no longer known to occur within the United States and change some names to conform to accepted usages.

The changes also reflect taxonomic revisions to the bird taxa of North America published by the American Ornithologists’ Union and changes in the Migratory Bird List incorporate name changes and revisions moving some species from one taxon to another.

The final rule can be found online at

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