More species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Recent changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act extend protection to over 120 new (non-split) species, some of which have waited decades for legal recognition. Most are vagrants such as Stygian Owl, Flame-colored Tanager, Blue Mockingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Xantus’s Hummingbird, Bumblebee Hummingbird, and Green-breasted Mango that will finally enjoy the same protection under the MBTA as other naturally occurring species. (You hear that, Brookfield Zoo?)

One controversial addition to the list is Muscovy Duck, a neotropical native that has established populations in southern Texas. The problem is with feral and released domestic Muscovies, which are causing a variety of problems. Not surprisingly, duck fanciers are up in arms over a proposal to outlaw breeding of Muscovies except for meat, and I can sympathize. Though the proposal specifically exempts any live ducks in one’s possession prior to the date the rule goes into effect, it will eliminate breeding of highly domesticated strains of Muscovy for show or pet purposes. Apparently, many of those pets are being abandoned where they become nuisances to people,  reservoirs for disease, and competitors for resources with native species, but the bigger problem would seem to be breeding of semi-wild, flight-capable Muscovies to be released for canned hunts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether duck fanciers can work out some reasonable exemptions.

CFR Parts 10 and 21: General Provisions; Migratory Birds Revised List and Permits; Final Rules

CFR 21.54: Muscovy Duck

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2 thoughts on “More species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  1. Thank you for the great informations. Just want to let you know…They’re back! Spotted my first 2010 Hummingbird at a feeder last evening, abt 7 pm. I’m new to this, as of last year, and can’t identify species at all. This little fellow was almost solid black. I’ve had my feeders out for about 2 weeks, putting just a bit of fresh food in every other day. This is the first bird I’ve seen at the feeders this year. Last year I had about a dozen at my 4 feeders. Hoping for more this year.
    Karen Frank
    Lipan, TX

  2. Woo hoo! Black-chinneds are more common west of Fort Worth both as breeders and migrants, but male Ruby-throateds can also look black in poor light. He’s right on schedule for either species, which typically start showing up in north-central Texas the last week of March.

    The first individuals of a locally nesting species to arrive each spring are often those that will stay all summer, so this guy may be with you until August.

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