Frequently Asked Questions: Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022
Why is it important to protect migratory birds and their nests?
Migratory birds contribute to biodiversity, play an important role in ecosystems, and are indicators of the health of the environment. Conserving migratory bird populations, which includes protecting individuals and their nests, is an important element of halting and reversing biodiversity loss in Canada.
Birds use nests to protect their eggs and young from predators and harsh weather and to be able to effectively incubate them. The cumulative effects of the destruction of nests of conservation value could result in significant impacts on migratory bird populations.
How are migratory birds protected in Canada?
Migratory birds are protected at all times, all migratory bird nests are protected when they contain a live bird or viable egg. The nests of 18 species listed in Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022 are protected year round. More specifically:
The Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) and Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022 (MBR) protect migratory birds in a number of ways:
- The MBCA prohibits the deposition of substances that are harmful to birds in waters or areas frequented by them
- The MBR, 2022 prohibit the capture, kill, take, injure or harassment of migratory birds without a permit
- The MBR, 2022 also protect migratory bird nests:
- when they contain a live bird or viable egg, so generally when they are being used for nesting, which is for most species the time that their nests have high conservation value; and
- year round for 18 migratory birds species who re-use their nests, with a mechanism for those nests that have deemed to be abandoned, according to the criteria set out in the regulations, to be destroyed, damaged, disturbed or removed
Migratory birds that are species at risk receive protection under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In some cases of migratory bird species listed under the Species at Risk Act, the residence prohibition will protect nests that are not active, but are re-used in subsequent years. For example, the nests of the Prothonotary Warbler are protected five years beyond the last known time of occupancy.
In, some provinces, provincial legislations protect nests year round for specific bird species. It is your responsibility to know and adhere to the various laws that apply.
How will the impact of the MBR 2022 on migratory bird populations be monitored?
ECCC’s scientists monitor bird population trends, investigate declines, and recommend actions to protect the health of ecosystems on which we all depend. Data from bird surveys provide information on population status and trends that help identify species or populations requiring conservation action. Changes in distribution and status can also serve as an early-warning system by highlighting potential environmental problems, can help refine research priorities, and can help track the success of ongoing management activities. ECCC will continue to monitor migratory bird populations and consider whether the regulations continue to be effective and appropriate. Based on this, ECCC may in the future propose other regulatory amendments. This would occur through the existing regulatory process, which would include consulting with affected and interested parties, as well as more broadly with Canadians.
Who can I contact with more questions about the Migratory Birds Regulations 2022?
You can contact ReglementsFaune-WildlifeRegulations@ec.gc.ca.
Protection of migratory birds
Do the Migratory Birds Regulations also apply to indirect killing of migratory birds, for example through collisions with wind turbines, off-shore platforms or windows?
Yes. The MBCA and the MBR provide protection to individual birds and their nests, even from activities whose purpose is not to directly harm them. ECCC provides tools for planning your activities, such as nesting calendars, guidance for the development of Beneficial Management Practices, and encourages including mitigation measures during planning and operations (such as avoiding conducting certain activities during breeding and migration periods), in order to minimize the risk of causing harm to migratory birds, their eggs, as well as to their nests when they are protected. Because migration and nesting periods can vary by region, species and year, it is your responsibility to be aware the requirements of the MBCA and MBR 2022, aware of the presence of migratory birds where and when you are conducting your activities.
Migratory birds are protected at all times, all migratory bird nests are protected when they contain a live bird or viable egg. The nests of 18 species listed in Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022 are protected year round.
Do the MBR 2022 provide a broadening of protection to individual birds over the previous regulations?
The MBR 2022 have clarified the prohibitions again causing harm to migratory birds. For most of its existence, the MBR have had distinct and clear prohibitions on certain activities that cause harm to migratory birds. Throughout the years the MBR were amended, resulting in the prohibitions no longer being stand alone, but rather included in the definition of hunt. This configuration was confusing, and lacked clarity. The MBR 2022 separate the general prohibitions from the definition of hunt, re-establishing the clear link with the MBCA, and once again make it clear that it is prohibited to capture, kill, take, injure or harass a migratory bird, and that these prohibitions apply to any activity.
How has nest protection changed from the previous MBR to the MBR 2022? Why was it changed? Does the introduction of exceptions to the nest prohibitions represent a weakening of protection for migratory birds?
The previous regulations protected the nests of all species of all 395 species of migratory birds at all times, anywhere they were found, for as long as they existed.
The MBR 2022 strive to provide protection to the nests of migratory birds when they have high conservation value. It provides protection to all migratory bird nests when the nest contains a live bird or viable eggs. The nests of most species may be damaged, destroyed, disturbed or removed when they do not contain a live bird or viable egg.
The new MBR, 2022 focuses on protecting nests that are of high conservation value. For many species of migratory birds, their nests have high conservation value when it is occupied by a live bird or viable eggs (so generally during the nesting period). When nesting is done, most migratory birds leave the nest, and do not use it again in following years.
There are some migratory birds who either re-use their own nests from one year to the next, or whose nests are commonly re-used by other species of migratory birds. For 18 species of migratory bird whose nests are commonly re-used from one year to the next, the MBR, 2022 provide year-round protection. The regulations do provide a mechanism to exempt these nests from the nest prohibitions, when the unoccupied nest has been reported through the Abandoned Nest Registry, and the nest remains unoccupied by a migratory bird for the corresponding period of time indicated for that species. A nest of a species listed under Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022 that remains unoccupied by a migratory bird for the minimum number of months indicated in the regulations, suggests the probable abandonment of the nest, and therefore it is likely that the nest no longer has high, or in some cases any, conservation value for migratory birds.
This change in protection, from all nests always being protected, to most nests only being protected when they contain a live birds or viable egg (when they have high conservation value for migratory birds), except for the 18 species listed in Schedule 1 which receive year-round protection, provides greatly enhanced flexibility for stakeholders wishing to undertake activities on the landscape that may affect migratory bird nests.
Are migratory bird nests only protected on federal land?
No. The prohibitions of the MBR 2022 apply anywhere migratory birds are found in Canada, including federal lands, provincial lands, First Nations reserve lands and private lands.
In addition, some provincial and/or territorial laws and regulations may also provide protection for migratory bird nests.
There are different protections for individuals and nests of migratory birds at the provincial level. How are the discrepancies between federal and provincial regulations resolved?
All persons must adhere to all pertinent laws (for example provincial or territorial laws), regulations and permit requirements including but not restricted to the MBCA and the MBR 2022. The MBR 2022 are required to be applied in conjunction with existing regulations, as was the case under the previous MBR. For instance, in forestry operations, when a tree that is considered a danger to workers contains a Pileated Woodpecker nest cavity, both the MBR 2022 and the provincial laws regarding health and safety would need to be followed. As the MBR 2022 protect the nest of the Pileated Woodpecker, it would need to be avoided. To ensure safety for workers, a buffer could be maintained around the tree, within which workers are not to enter.
It is important to note that some species of birds protected under the MBCA are also listed in Schedule 1 of SARA. These species, and sometimes their nest (residence), receive protection from both the MBCA and SARA. Additionally, some bird species that are not protected under the MBCA or SARA, for instance raptors, receive protection under provincial or territorial legislation.
How can I avoid disturbing nests with live birds or viable eggs?
It is prohibited to damage, destroy, disturb or remove the nest of a migratory bird that contains a live bird or viable egg. If there is bird nesting activity, take care to avoid harming the nests. If your activity does not allow you to avoid the nests, then postpone the activity until that time that the nests no longer contain birds or viable eggs (generally outside of the breeding season). Be aware of if there are nests of Schedule 1 species present and avoid these nests at all times, as they are protected year round.
Stakeholders should continue to implement effective beneficial management practices and should plan their activities well outside of the nesting season to avoid disturbing or destroying nests with live birds or viable eggs. Nesting periods can vary by region, by species, and by year. ECCC provides guidance and tools to help in activity planning in order to avoid causing harm to migratory birds and their nests, such as the nesting period calendar. It is always prohibited to destroy a nest with a live bird or viable egg, even if this occurs outside of what might be considered a normal nesting period, so it is your responsibility to be aware of active nests. Proponents also need to be aware of and avoid the nests of the species listed on Schedule 1 at all times as they are protected year round. The nests of the 18 species listed may only be destroyed, damaged, disturbed or removed if they have been deemed to be abandoned; that is, after a notification has been submitted through the Abandoned Nest Registry link coming soon), and the designated wait time has passed.
In certain limited situations, a permit may be available to destroy these nests, if specific criteria according to the MBR 2022 have been met. Please contact your regional office for more information.
Can I remove a migratory bird nest from last year?
The nests of 377 migratory bird species can be removed when they are no longer active, that is when they do not contain a live bird or viable egg. For most nests, once the chicks have fledged have left the nest on their own, and it is no longer occupied by a migratory bird or eggs, they no longer continue to have conservation value, and most species will build a new nest each year.
However, the nests of the 18 species that reuse their nests and are listed in Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022, are protected year round, even when they do not contain a live bird or viable egg. They may be only be destroyed if they have been deemed abandoned, and the conditions of the MBR 2022 have been met.
Some species that are listed under the Species at Risk Act may also have year round residence (nest) protection. Note that in some cases, other jurisdictions (e.g., provinces) also provide protection for migratory bird nests.
A migratory bird is building a nest on my heavy machinery, which I will need to use in a couple of days (and doing so will destroy the nest). I can see that the bird is not in the nest, and there are no eggs in the nest. May I remove the nest? May I take measures to discourage the bird from building a nest there again?
If the nest is of a species that is not listed in Schedule 1, then the nest may be destroyed if it does not contain a live bird or viable eggs. Measures may be taken to discourage the bird from building another nest in the same location, as long as the measure does not disturb or cause harm to the bird. For instance, you may cut off access to that part of the machinery by covering it with a tarp or wire mesh, but it would be prohibited to spray the bird with a hose if it approaches the area or again attempts to build a nest where you do not want it to.
What methods should be used to monitor for active migratory bird nests (to see if they contain live bird or viable egg)?
If activities are planned close to or during nesting periods, ECCC recommends that non-intrusive survey methods be used to determine whether migratory birds are breeding in the area. For example, a “point count” survey, which is counting birds seen or heard within a certain radius, could be done to locate singing territorial males, which may provide a good indication of the possible presence of songbirds nesting in an area. If signs of nesting or breeding are detected, ECCC recommends that the activities be delayed until nesting is done.
ECCC does not recommend active nest searches or ongoing nest monitoring during the breeding season. This is because, in most cases:
- the ability to detect nests is low while the risk of disturbing or damaging active nests is high
- flushing nesting birds increases the risk of predation of the eggs or young, or may cause the adults to abandon the nest or the eggs, and
- disturbing or damaging nests is still likely to occur during disruptive activities even when active nest searches are conducted prior to these activities
How were species selected for year-round protection of their nests (i.e. to be included in Schedule 1)?
The following criteria were used to determine which species would benefit most from year-round protection of their nests:
Importance of the nesting structure itself
- All species included in Schedule 1 have nests, cavities or burrows that are commonly or usually reused by migratory birds in subsequent years
Nest identification outside of the breeding season
- In order to facilitate compliance and enforceability year round, a species’ nest needs to be able to be easily identified outside of the breeding season by both proponents and enforcement officers. For several species who make small, inconspicuous nests or who create nests by gathering grass on the ground, identification is often not possible outside of the breeding season. Likewise, the nests of secondary cavity nesters (species that use a cavity that is already available, such as a hole formed by rot in a tree, or a cavity that has been excavated by another species) are impossible to identify without an adult attending the nest. Therefore, the nests of those species whose nests are not identifiable to the species outside of the breeding season were not included
Species at risk
- Species listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened, that habitually occupy their nest, are not included in Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022, as SARA already provides mechanisms for year round residence (nest) protection. SARA also allows for permits to be issued, under certain conditions, which authorize activities that would affect any part of the species critical habitat or the residence of an individual
Species nesting mostly on anthropological structures
For species on Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022, their nests cannot be disturbed, destroyed or removed at any time during the year, including when they do not contain a live bird or viable egg. For some species that often nest in anthropological structures (i.e. those created by humans, for example bridges), adding them to Schedule 1 could have the negative effect of discouraging the implementation of bird-friendly design for structures if there is a concern that having nests in or on them would mean that maintenance could not be conducted. As anthropological structures can provide important nesting habitat, the addition to Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022 would likely not benefit conservation of those species.
The cavities of other woodpecker species are also reused by migratory birds. Why aren’t those species’ nesting cavities protected like they are for the Pileated Woodpecker?
Many species of woodpecker make very small, inconspicuous cavities that are difficult to find and identify outside of the nesting season. Therefore, including all woodpeckers in Schedule 1 would make compliance and enforcement difficult.
The Pileated Woodpecker however makes large nesting cavities that are easy to identify. In addition, as the largest of the North American woodpeckers, their cavities can be used from small to other large body cavity nesters that lack the ability to excavate their own cavities. Therefore, the presence of Pileated Woodpecker cavities from previous years supports healthy breeding populations of a range of other cavity-nesting species.
Why are Pileated Woodpecker’s nests protected for three years after they have become unoccupied and other species on Schedule 1 are only protected for one or two years?
Nests of Pileated Woodpeckers are commonly reused for several years by this species as well as other migratory birds (secondary cavity nesters) who are often not capable of excavating their own cavities. Pileated Woodpecker nests can be re-occupied by migratory birds after a few years of being unoccupied. There is extensive documentation that the Pileated Woodpecker is a keystone species (meaning it has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance) for the cavity nesting community. Cavities are a critical and limiting resource for many migratory birds, both for nesting and for overwinter survival. In one study (Bonar RL. 2000. Availability of Pileated Woodpecker Cavities and Use by Other Species, The Journal of Wildlife Management 64: 52-59), 4 out of 5 Pileated Woodpecker cavities were being used, which shows just how in demand, and how important, their cavities can be. Furthermore, some species may favour only nesting cavities that are a few years old, so if only active nests are protected there may be a negative bias in the conservation of secondary cavity nesters.
The other species on Schedule 1 usually reuse their own nests, so a nest that is unoccupied after one or two breeding seasons is indicative of nest abandonment and therefore loses its value for nesting migratory birds.
How can I tell the difference between a Pileated Woodpecker feeding cavity and a Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavity?
For guidance on distinguishing between a Pileated Woodpecker feeding cavity and a Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavity, you can consult the Fact Sheet on Pileated Woodpecker Cavities Identification Guide.
I have dead trees with migratory bird nests in them that have become a safety concern. Can I cut them down?
If the nests are of migratory birds species that are not listed on Schedule 1, then the tree may be cut (which would destroy the nests) if/when they do not contain live birds or viable eggs (so generally when they are not nesting). It is recommended to monitor the tree to see if there are signs of nesting.
If the tree contains the nest of a species listed in Schedule 1, the nest is protected year round. If the nest is abandoned, then the nest may be destroyed if a notification is submitted through the Abandoned Nest Registry, and after the designated wait time has passed.
If you are not able to wait the designated period, and have taken appropriate mitigation, a permit to relocate or destroy the nest may be available.
If, during a summer nest survey when most birds are nesting, I observe a large oval hole in a tree that has all of the characteristics of a Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavity, but it is unoccupied, is this nest cavity still protected? Can the tree be cut down? If you are not able to wait the designated period, and have taken appropriate mitigation, a permit to relocate or destroy the nest may be available.
The nesting cavities of the Pileated Woodpecker, are protected year round, including when they are not occupied by a migratory bird or viable eggs. If the proponent wishes to destroy this unoccupied nest, they must submit a notification through the Abandoned Nest Registry, and if the nest remains unoccupied by Pileated Woodpeckers and other migratory bird species for 36 months, it may at that point be destroyed by cutting down the tree.
Can species be added or removed from Schedule 1 in the future?
Decisions on the Migratory Bird Regulations, 2022, including Schedule 1, are made the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Any amendments to the Migratory Bird Regulations, 2022 would follow the Cabinet Directive on Regulation and the Guide to Making Federal Acts and Regulations and would be informed by the best available science and the results of consultation with stakeholders and the public.
ECCC’s scientists monitor bird population trends, investigate declines, and recommend actions to protect the health of ecosystems on which we all depend. Data from bird surveys provide information on population status and trends that help identify species or populations requiring conservation action. Changes in distribution and status can also serve as an early-warning system by highlighting potential environmental problems, can help refine research priorities, and can help track the success of ongoing management activities. ECCC will continue to monitor migratory bird populations with the new nest protections in place and will consider whether the regulations continue to be effective and appropriate.
Where can I find more information on nest protection?
For more information on nest protection, you can consult the Nest Protection Fact Sheet.
Abandoned Nest Registry
How do I submit a notification to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) regarding an unoccupied nest of a species listed in Schedule 1 that I wish to destroy? What information will I need to provide?
Notifications are to be submitted to ECCC using the electronic Abandoned Nest Registry.The easy to use system requires you to enter specific information, only taking a few minutes to submit a notification. The information that proponents are required to submit is as follows:
- Basic administrative information such as company name (if applicable), contact name and contact information;
- Information about the nest, including the date on which the unoccupied nest was found, the species name, and number of nests (for colonial species only);
- Location of the nest: latitude and longitude coordinates of the nest, as well as province in which nest is located
When does the clock start for the mandatory wait time? When can the abandoned nest of a species listed in Schedule 1 can be destroyed?
The time clock for the period starts on the day that the ECCC receives a notification, via the Abandoned Nest Registry from the proponent who wishes to damage, destroy, disturb or remove the nest. Only if the nest remains unoccupied by a migratory birds during the designated wait time, indicating that it has been abandoned, can it then be damaged, destroyed, disturbed or removed. There is no requirement to inform ECCC before destroying the nest as long as the full designated waiting period has elapsed.
If I recorded an unoccupied nest of a species on Schedule 1 before July 30, 2022, can I enter this date in my notification?
No. The earliest date that the system will accept for an abandoned nest notification is July 30, 2022, which is the date that the MBR 2022 came into force.
What are the requirements for monitoring an unoccupied nest during the designated wait period before it can be destroyed? Do records need to be kept for monitoring activities? When should I be conducting monitoring activities?
The MBR 2022 do not dictate or determine a required level of monitoring of unoccupied nests, and do not require record keeping. However, to determine if a nest has remained unoccupied, it is important that verifications occur during a period when a nest could reasonably be expected to be in use.
Do I need to submit a notification to ECCC for every nest of Schedule 1 species that I find?
Notifications only need to be submitted for those unoccupied Schedule 1 nests that the proponent wishes to destroy, damage, disturb or remove. If a proponent chooses to leave the abandoned nest of a Schedule 1 species on the landscape undisturbed, there is no requirement to submit a notification.
What do I do if the nest that I reported as abandoned becomes occupied by a migratory bird?
If a nest of a Schedule 1 species for which you have submitted a notification becomes occupied by a migratory bird, then it is no longer abandoned, and the notification is no longer valid. In these cases, you are to contact ECCC at
AvisNid-NestNotifications@ec.gc.ca, and you are to provide the following information:
- Your name, the notification confirmation, and ask that your submission be removed
You may submit a new notification at a later date if the nest again becomes unoccupied.
How long are permits issued under the Migratory Birds Regulations valid for?
A Migratory Game Bird Hunting permit expires on June 30 following the date of issue. All other permits either have an expiry date set out in the permit, and in the cases it does not, the permit expires on December 31 of the year in which it was issued.
Where can I send my questions about permits issued under the Migratory Birds Regulations?
If you have questions regarding permits, you can contact your local Canadian Wildlife Service office.
Permits to relocate or destroy nests
Is it possible to obtain a permit to destroy a nest that contains a live bird or viable egg, or an unoccupied nest of a species listed on Schedule 1 of the MBR 2022 before the designated wait time has passed?
In certain limited situations where avoidance of the nest is not possible, mitigation measures have been attempted, and a person cannot wait for the designated wait time to damage, disturb, remove, or destroy a nest that contains a live bird or viable egg, or the unoccupied nest of a migratory bird listed on Schedule I, as a last resort, the following permits may be available:
- Scientific Permit: A person who intends to conduct scientific studies and systematic investigations that are aimed at developing scientific knowledge in a given sector of avian ecology and biology could submit an application for a single-year or multi-year Scientific Permit
- For example, any type of activities where the impact of operations on migratory birds would be documented and evaluated to propose mitigation measures for future operations could potentially qualify under the Scientific Permit
- Damage or Danger Permit (section 70): A person who owns, leases, or manages the land (which includes having easement, servitude, right of way or agreement) could submit an application for Damage or Danger permit if the migratory bird or its nest is causing or is likely to cause to human health or to public safety or the damage they are causing or are likely to cause to agricultural, environmental or other interests
- For example, a Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavity on a utility pole that has compromised the integrity of the pole to the point whereby it could imminently fall over may qualify for a Damage or Danger permit for nest destruction
- Damage or Danger Permit (section 71): A person who owns, leases, or manages the land (which includes having easement, servitude, right of way or agreement) could submit an application for a Damage or Danger nest relocation whereby relocation of the nest is necessary to prevent damage that migratory birds or their nests are causing or are likely to cause to the use of the land or to agricultural interests
- For example, a tree containing an unoccupied Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavity could be relocated to nearby habitat of a greenfield project (e.g., new hydroelectric dam) if the footprint could not be changed and construction was imminent.
As is the case for any permit, CWS Permitting Officers will consider the information in the permit application to ensure the permits are issued consistently across Canada.
Before submitting an application for a permit described above, it is recommended that you contact your local Canadian Wildlife Service regional office and discuss the situation, and possible permit options, with a permit officer.
What would nest relocation look like in the context of Pileated Woodpecker?
There are various approaches to relocating nests depending on the species and the circumstances. This would be discussed between ECCC and the permit applicant prior to issuance of the permit, and the details may be included in the permit terms and conditions.
How much due diligence is sufficient when applying for a permit?
When applying for a Damage or Danger Permit, it is necessary to demonstrate due diligence - that avoidance is not possible, that other means are not sufficient to prevent or reduce the damage or danger and / or that mitigation measures have been taken. The extent of due diligence will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
May I gift birds that are taken under a Damage or Danger Permit?
The Migratory Bird Regulations (MBR), 2022 allow the birds taken under the authority of a provincial killing permit or a federal scaring or killing permit, for which there is an open season in Canada, to be gifted to a person for the purpose of consumption (including for charitable purposes – in which birds must be preserved), taxidermy or training dogs as retrievers. If the bird is not preserved when gifted, it must still have a fully feathered wing or head attached, and be labelled according to the requirements of the regulations.
If I have been issued a scare or kill permit, can I use any shot that I have readily available?
No, when you are using a firearm under the authority of a damage or danger permit, it is prohibited to have in your possession or use lead shot. Non-toxic (or not lead) shot must be used.
The MBR, 2022 include a permit to destroy eggs and nests? Must both be destroyed when this permit is issued?
No, the permit to destroy nests or eggs may be issued to destroy just eggs, just the nest, or both. A permit issued would need to specify what it authorizes to be destroyed.
If a woodpecker, other than a Pileated Woodpecker, has created a nest cavity in a utility pole creating damage to the pole, would the utility company require a permit repair the pole by filling the cavity, which would destroy the nest?
If the nest is of a species that is not listed on Schedule 1, then no matter what the situation, the nest may be destroyed without a permit when it does not contain a live bird or viable egg. If there is a bird or eggs occupying the nest, the utility company will need to wait until it becomes unoccupied, or the nesting bird and chicks have left, before they can destroy it.
If the is creating or is likely to create a public safety hazard, then the utility company may be eligible for a Damage or Danger permit to destroy the active nest.
Be aware that the residence (nest) of the Lewis’s Woodpecker is protected under Species at Risk Act.
If a Pileated Woodpecker has created a nesting cavity in a utility pole that is compromising the structural integrity of the pole, therefore causing danger to public safety, will the utility company need to submit a notification and wait 36 months to replace the pole?
A permit may be issued to damage, destroy, disturb or remove the nest if:
- the creation of the nest by the Pileated Woodpecker is causing or is likely to cause danger to human health or to public safety – meaning that the nest cavity has compromised the structural integrity of the pole
- The proponent owns, leases or manages the land where the utility pole is situated
- ECCC has defined, through policy that a land manager includes having an easement, servitude, a right of way to the land, or agreement. It is planned to do an amendment to implement this policy into the regulations
- The nesting cavity remains protected when it contains a live bird or viable eggs
Where can I find more information on permits for nest relocation or destruction?
For more information, you can consult:
- the Nest Protection Fact Sheet
- Guidance for Proponents: Damage or Danger Permits for Nest Destruction - Section 70 of the MBR 2022 for Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavities, and
- Guidance for Proponents: Damage or Danger Permits for Nest Relocation - Section 71 of the MBR 2022 for Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavities
Migratory Game Bird Hunting
Where can I find out more information on migratory game bird hunting, season dates, bag limits and other rules?
For more information about migratory game bird hunting, please visit the Migratory Game Bird Hunting pages, including the Frequently Asked Questions.
Possession of migratory birds
Are there instances when a migratory bird may be possessed without having a permit?
The Migratory Birds Regulations (MBR), 2022 authorize the temporary possession of migratory birds (without a permit), not including their eggs, in 3 situations. They are:
- When a migratory bird is found dead, in order to dispose of the carcass according to applicable laws, or to, as soon as the circumstances allow, deliver it to a lab for analysis
- To bring an injured migratory bird to a location that is authorized to rehabilitate migratory birds, as soon as the circumstances allow,
- To temporarily help an uninjured migratory bird that is facing an immediate threat to its life
Where can I find information on how to dispose of dead migratory birds according to applicable law?
Check appropriate provincial laws and local (municipal) requirements for your area.
Why is there an exception allowing for dead found migratory birds to be brought to a lab for analysis?
The main reason is to help monitor bird viruses, including avian flu. Testing dead birds is the most effective way to detect these viruses, therefore we request public help in bringing found dead birds for testing.
What should I do if I find a dead migratory bird?
- Call the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-800-567-2033
- Go to the Guidance on Precautions for the Handling of Wild Birds webpage on the Government of Canada website
What facilities are authorized to take injured migratory birds for rehabilitation?
Authorized facilities are those that have been issued a scientific permit under the MBR, 2022, for the purpose of rehabilitating migratory birds. If you find an injured migratory bird, you may look up wildlife rehabilitators or rescue centres in your area and ask if they can take migratory birds.
You may also contact a Canadian Wildlife Service regional office to inquire if there is an authorized facility in your area.
If I find an injured migratory bird may I rehabilitate it myself?
No, only those that are holders of a Scientific permit, issued under the MBR, 2022, for the purpose of rehabilitating migratory birds may take and rehabilitate an injured migratory bird. This is because those that have received this permit have demonstrated that they have the expertise and experience to do so.
What should I know about the exemption to temporarily possess a migratory bird that is in immediate danger?
Because handling a bird can cause stress and cause further harm, it is only recommended to do so if there is no other option to help them from immediate danger. The temporary assistance should be quick, so that contact is minimal. A relocation of a bird should only occur to a safe spot within the immediate area of where you assisted the bird from the danger. For instance, removing a gosling from a hole that it cannot exit on its own, to a safe spot in the immediate area.
What are some examples of situations of where the exemption of handling a bird that is in immediate danger apply?
- Removing a bird that is caught in a net
- Returning a chick that does not yet have feathers, so cannot fly, back to its nest
- Removing flightless chicks from areas where they are trapped
Gifting, sale, exchange and use of migratory bird feathers
What are the rules regarding the use and gifting of migratory birds feathers?
The feathers are possessed under the authority of any permit issued under the Migratory Birds Regulations (MBR), 2022
- May be given to anyone as long as they are to be used for educational, social, cultural or spiritual purposes
- May not be sold or exchanged or given for ornamental use or hat making
- May be given for ornamental use or hat making only when the recipient has a section 35 right under the Constitution Act, 1982, to do so
The feathers are possessed under the authority of a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit
- Including the rules mentioned above, they may also be given, sold, or exchanged to anyone for a functional purpose
May I sell or exchange the feathers of migratory birds?
- The feathers of migratory game birds may be sold, exchanged and given in the following situations
- The feathers were taken under the authority of a Migratory Game Bird Hunting permit, and are used for a functional purpose, such as making fishing flies
- The feathers are possessed by an individual who is exercising a right under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and are given, sold or exchanged for a functional purpose
- The feathers are possessed by an individual exercising a right under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and they are sold or given for ornamental or hat-making purposes, when the recipient is also exercising a right under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
What are some examples of “Functional Purpose” for which the feathers of migratory birds may be gifted, sold, or exchanged?
Fishing flies, bedding (e.g. pillows, bedcoverings), clothing (e.g. coats) – but excluding hats
I wish to apply for a scientific permit. What are the requirements?
The MBR, 2022 has increased flexibility of who may be issued a scientific permit, while ensuring that permit holders are able to adequately perform the activity for which they have applied. The permitted activity must be for a scientific, rehabilitation or educational purpose, and the Minister must be of the opinion that the applicant has the skills required to perform the activity for which they are applying for a permit.
Are scientists allowed to deposit bait as part of their work?
A holder of a scientific permit may, within the confined area specified in their permit, deposit bait at any time for scientific purposes. In the case of the purpose of the permit being for bird banding, bait may be deposited at any time and in any place. Regardless of the purpose, a sign, which is compliant with the permit’s instructions and indicates the number of the permit must be posted at the place where bait is deposited.
Does the MBR, 2022 introduce any changes for aviculture permit holders?
Migratory birds held under an aviculture permit must now be fed in a location, which is specified in the permit, that is not visible to wild birds flying above. So, they must be fed under a roof, either in a building, or a roof outdoors that is adequate size so that flying birds do not see the feed underneath. This is to minimize the chances of flying wild birds being attracted and coming to feed.
The new regulations also allow aviculture permit holders to exchange and give birds between them.
Where can I find more information on the new Charity permit?
Enforcement and penalties
How are the prohibitions against causing harm to migratory birds and nests enforced?
The provisions of the MBCA and the MBR, 2022 are enforced according to the ECCC’s Compliance and enforcement policy for wildlife legislation.
What are the penalties for contravening the MBR 2022?
Certain provisions of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and its regulations when contravened result in direct harm or risk of harm to the environment. Under the Offences and Punishment part of the Act, the applicable fine range varies for indictable and summary conviction proceedings and for different categories of offenders. For example, on summary conviction, an individual is liable to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $300,000 or imprisonment up to six months, or to both. On summary conviction, certain other legal persons, such as a large corporation, are liable to a fine of not less than $100,000 and not more than $4,000,000. The figures for all fines double for second or subsequent offences.
Administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) are available to enforcement officers to enforce designated violations of the MBCA and its associated regulations. An AMP is a financial disincentive to non-compliance and provides an additional tool for officers, to supplement existing enforcement measures. The amount of a single AMP cannot exceed $5,000 in the case of an individual, or $25,000 in the case of a person other than an individual. Depending on the type of penalty, history of non-compliance, environmental harm and economic gain, the amount of an AMP can vary between $200 and $5,250 for individuals, and $1,000 and $25,000 for other persons such as corporations, ships or vessels.
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