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A bald eagle flying across a blue sky with a silver fish in its tallons.
Information icon A bald eagle with a freshly caught fish. Photo by USFWS.

Migratory birds

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program works with partners to protect, restore, and conserve bird populations and their habitats for the benefit of future generations by:

  • Ensuring long-term ecological sustainability of all migratory bird populations,
  • Increasing socioeconomic benefits derived from birds,
  • Improving hunting and bird watching and other outdoor bird-related experiences, and
  • Increasing awareness of the value of migratory birds and their habitats for their aesthetic, ecological, recreational and economic significance.

Service employees conduct surveys; coordinate with public-private bird conservation partnerships; provide matching grants for partner-based conservation efforts; administer conservation laws and develop policies and regulations; and issue permits that allow individuals and organizations to participate in migratory bird conservation in a variety of ways.

Under the authorities of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other applicable laws, the Service is the lead federal agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United States. The Service’s Migratory Bird Program has many programs that are actively involved in migratory bird conservation activities. These programs and initiatives are working to provide leadership in the conservation of bird habitat and conservation and management of birds for future generations.

Permits and regulatory information

As authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Service issues permits to qualified applicants for the following types of activities: falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, special purposes (rehabilitation, educational, migratory game bird propagation, and salvage), take of depredating birds, taxidermy, and waterfowl sale and disposal.

Bald eagle information

The bald eagle was officially removed from the list of threatened and endangered species in 2007. Although it is no longer protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it remains remains protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The continued protection of bald eagle habitat and nesting territories is important because nesting territories can last for decades. If something happens to the nest tree (e.g. struck by lightning, loss of supporting limb, etc.), the birds will need to find other suitable nesting sites within their territory. Additionally, bald eagles mate for life but If one of the adult pair dies, the remaining mate will stay in the territory and recruit a new mate. Bald eagle nesting season in South Carolina is October 1 - May 15. Learn more about South Carolina’s bald eagles.

Bald eagle technical assistance and permitting

Under the BGEPA, the birds have habitat management guidelines similar to the previous guidelines under the ESA. The Service’s Division of Migratory Birds now manages the species instead of the Endangered Species Program. Please see our regional website for help with technical assistance and permitting.

More information on migratory birds

Contacts

For technical assistance on a project or questions about monitoring within Southeast - Region 4, please email FW4eaglemonitoring@fws.gov. For all written bald eagle or golden eagle permit correspondence please use 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30345.

For questions about migratory bird and eagle permitting in Southeast – Region 4 and throughout the nation, please visit the permits regional offices website to determine your regional contact.

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Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson.

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