What We Do

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program is the lead federal agency for conservation of migratory birds, serving to protect, restore, and manage over one thousand different species ensuring these natural treasures will be around for future generations to admire and enjoy.

Our biologists and managers conduct surveys and other monitoring activities to determine the status of migratory bird populations.

Our pilot biologists on the spring breeding population survey and to learn much more about monitoring activities, management, and hunting.

We work with hundreds of diverse partners to support critically important bird management plans, treaties, migratory bird joint ventures, and initiatives including Partners in Flight, the U.S. Shorebird Plan, the North American Waterbird Plan and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

We also administer two multi-million dollar bird habitat grant programs: the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act affecting millions of acres of bird habitat throughout the western hemisphere.

To conserve habitat for migratory birds, we administer the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Program, commonly called the "duck stamp." 98 cents of every dollar spent on duck stamps goes towards habitat conservation, and over six million acres of habitat have been conserved so far.

Part of our job is to support and sustain responsible hunting of waterfowl and other migratory game birds, as well as to promote and encourage birdwatching and other bird related outdoor experiences.

Beyond our direct species and habitat conservation efforts, we also conduct outreach and education programs for children and adults through programs such as World Migratory Bird Day, the Junior Duck Stamp Program, and Urban Conservation Treaties for Migratory Birds.

Through these and many other efforts, the Migratory Bird Program is working hard each day to protect and conserve the treasure trove of migratory bird resources across North America.

Management and Conservation

The Migratory Bird Program is charged with conserving migratory bird populations through protection, restoration and management. Bird management includes both population and habitat conservation and management - and generally, managing habitats for bird conservation benefits a variety of species.

To manage birds and their habitats, we work with bird conservation partnerships comprising federal and state agencies, Tribes, nongovernment organizations, universities, corporations, individuals with expertise in bird conservation, and private landowners. These partnerships develop and implement management plans that provide explicit, strategic and adaptive sets of conservation actions required to return and maintain species to healthy and sustainable levels.

To help our partners manage birds and habitats, evaluate and monitor your impact on birds, or fulfill legal obligations, we also provide helpful tools and resources such as Best Management Practices, project assessment tools and other industry guidance documents and decision support tools.

To help regulate migratory bird harvest throughout the four migration flyways, we provide biological information such as survey data.

Biological and management information is also available for several nonhunted species.

Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, public-private partnerships that work in specific regions to conserve habitat for all birds, and conservation grant programs are also available. We also offer training resources for agency staff and non-government partners.

Our Programs

kodiak plane flying
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Branch of Aviation Management is responsible for the safety and oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s fleet of planes and pilots.
Students learning about tree identification
A program that supports city partners in conserving birds and their habitats and providing opportunities for community engagement in bird-related recreation, education, and conservation activities in urban and suburban areas.
Birds surround two herring fishing boats
The purpose of Migratory Bird Permits is to promote long-term conservation of migratory birds and their habitats and encourage joint stewardship with others.
Bald eagle and golden eagle
Forty years ago, our national symbol, the bald eagle, was in danger of extinction throughout most of its range. Habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source, largely as a consequence of DDT, decimated the eagle population. Habitat protection...

Our Services

Our Projects and Research

woman looking at lake at sunset

The annual process of setting duck hunting regulations in the United States is based on a system of resource monitoring, data analyses, and rule making.

Each year, monitoring activities such as aerial surveys and hunter questionnaires provide information on harvest levels,...

Pilot biologists survey Coronation Transect within Alberta during the WBPHS

The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) is conducted annually in May and June by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. The aerial breeding surveys that evolved into the WBPHS began in 1947. The primary purpose of the WBPHS is to provide...

Two large-winged grayish birds fly, one directly over the other.

Four populations of sandhill cranes are surveyed each year to estimate breeding population size: the Mid-Continent Population (MCP), in the High Plains U.S.; the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP), in the western U.S.; the Lower Colorado River Valley Population (LCRVP), primarily in northeast...

American woodcock

The American Woodcock Singing-Ground Survey is conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, state and provincial agencies, and volunteers each spring throughout the woodcock breeding range in the US and Canada. This survey exploits the conspicuous courtship...

Our Laws and Regulations

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d), enacted in 1940, and amended several times since, prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from "taking" bald or golden eagles, including their parts (including feathers), nests, or eggs....

The Migratory Bird Conservation Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct investigations and publish documents related to North American birds, and establishes a Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC) to approve areas recommended by the Secretary for acquisition. The MBCC...

The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, commonly referred to as the Duck Stamp Act, requires waterfowl hunters, 16 years of age or older, to purchase and possess a valid Federal waterfowl hunting stamp prior to taking migratory waterfowl. Receipts from the sale of the stamp are...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712) implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916, Mexico in 1936, Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory...

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act authorizes grants for the conservation of neotropical migratory birds in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, with 75 percent of the amounts made available to be expended on projects outside the United States. The funds are to be...

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act authorizes grants to public-private partnerships in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to protect, enhance, restore, and manage waterfowl, other migratory birds and other fish and wildlife, and the wetland ecosystems and other habitats upon which they depend...