You are here:

Birding/illegal to collect feathers?


I'm confused by the various things I've read about it being illegal to collect feathers & nests. I can understand that it's illegal to take feathers from live birds, to steal eggs from nests, or take nests that are being used. But can it really be illegal to collect feathers that are lying in the yard or on the sidewalk, simply because they're pretty, not to make anything & sell it? or to collect empty broken eggshells that have fallen on the ground?

Yes, it is illegal to collect or possess nests, eggs, eggshells, feathers, bones, beaks, or any other part of a wild bird without having a hunting license during hunting season or possessing a federal permit. The reason is that poachers can shoot a bird or take a nest or eggs or pluck feathers from a captured bird and say "I just found the bird/feathers/nest." So the only way the law can work is to make possession of all bird parts illegal without federal permits of some sort. Believe me, I know there is a lot of hunting of songbirds going on - eggs, nests, feathers, etc. and it's discouraging, even with the law.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Roger Lederer


Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.


Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

©2017 All rights reserved.