The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset

Migratory Birds

  •  Credit: Steve Slater used with permission

    Credit: Steve Slater used with permission

  • Credit: Bekee Hotze.

    Credit: Laura Romin and Larry Dalton.

  • Credit: Stephanie Graham / USFWS

    Credit: Stephanie Graham / USFWS

  • Credit: Stephanie Graham / USFWS

    Credit: Stephanie Graham / USFWS

  • Credit: Rick Fridell / Used with permission

    Credit: Rick Fridell / Used with permission


The USFWS administers the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which states that it is illegal to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

Birds protected by the MBTA include all birds covered by the treaties for the protection of migratory birds between the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada, 1916), Mexico (1936), Japan (1972), and Russia (1976), and subsequent amendments.  Species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act can be found here.

More information on migratory bird permits can be found here

The USFWS also administers the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This Act and its subsequent amendments prohibit the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit.  The Act defines "take" as "pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb."  "Disturb" means: “to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available, 1) injury to an eagle, 2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or 3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior."


The following guidance is applicable to migratory birds, and in particular raptors.  We recommend that the following guidance be incorporated into projects to reduce impacts to migratory birds. 

Wind Energy Guidance Documents


Common Questions

Q: I found a baby bird out of the nest or on the ground, what should I do? 

A: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has provided this helpful guide to answer your questions!

In most circumstances, you do not need to do anything except keep cats indoors as young birds often leave the nest intentionally while learning to fly. During this period, the parents will continue to feed and care for the fledgling birds, which may still have some downy feathers. If the baby bird is not feathered or only has downy feathers and if you can easily and safely reach the nest, consider putting the bird back in the nest. Otherwise, contact an authorized wildlife rehabilitator for additional instructions.

Q: What should I do with an injured or dead bird?

A: If the injury is severe enough that it prevents the bird from performing its normal activities, contact an authorized wildlife rehabilitator. However, be aware that some injuries are minor or are not injuries at all. For example, some ducks are unable to fly during the summer because they are molting. And sometimes you might see a bird hopping on one leg... it may look like they only have one leg, but many birds (e.g., shorebirds) will tuck one leg under their body to conserve body heat. Finally, if you know of or suspect an injured or dead bird was illegally shot, poisoned, captured or harmed, or if the bird is an eagle or threatened or endangered species, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement or a conservation officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Q: Can I keep a feather, egg or nest that I found? 

A: The simple answer is no. Most are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which prohibits the possession of birds, parts of birds (e.g., feathers, talons), eggs and nests without a permit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may issue permits to institutions like museums and universities for research or educational purposes but rarely issues permits to individuals to keep feathers, eggs and nests. You may keep feathers, wings, parts or entire speciments of species with state-approved hunting seasons, provided the bird was harvested legally. You may also possess feathers or parts of birds not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as long as you abide by any state regulations; however, it may be difficult determine if the feather is from a protected species - if in doubt, do not keep it.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: June 24, 2020
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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