Status update on the modernization of the Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022

The Migratory Birds Regulations have been modernized and have been published in the Canada Gazette Part II on June 8, 2022.

New regulations start date

The modernized Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022, will come into force on July 30, 2022. Until that time, the current Migratory Birds Regulations remain in place.


The objective of the Migratory Birds Regulations is the conservation of migratory birds, including their eggs and nests, in Canada. Implemented in 1918, the regulations were first developed to address the overharvesting and unregulated commerce of migratory birds. This is the first time that the Migratory Birds Regulations have been comprehensively updated or revised. The modernization was necessary to better respond to the current challenges facing migratory birds.

Main objectives of the modernization

  • Increase clarity, facilitate interpretation and compliance, and add flexibility
  • Recognize existing Aboriginal and treaty harvesting rights of individuals recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
  • Improve the ability to effectively manage migratory birds in Canada, in particular by
    • protecting nests when they are considered to have a higher conservation value for migratory birds
    • clarifying and introducing provisions to support current and new policy on migratory game bird hunting and hunting management

Some main changes of the Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022


  • Increased clarity by updating outdated language, incorporating current legal standards, eliminating errors, inconsistencies and ambiguities, and restructuring the regulations by placing related information into distinct parts

Nest protection

  • The existing Migratory Birds Regulations protect the nests of all migratory birds, at all times, for as long as they exist, which means that many nests have been protected when the no longer benefit migratory birds. The new Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022, provide protection to migratory bird nests when they are considered to have a higher conservation value for migratory birds
    • The nests of all migratory bird species are protected when they contain a live bird or a viable egg (so generally during the nesting period)
      • The nests of 18 species (listed in Schedule 1 of the regulations), whose nests are reused by migratory birds, continue to have year round nest protection, unless they have been shown to be abandoned. In order to be considered abandoned:
        • the Minister must be notified, via an online registration system (the Abandoned Nests Registry), that the nest does not contain a live bird or viable egg; and
        • the nest is to remain unused by migratory birds during the designated wait time for that species
    • A user friendly electronic Abandoned Nests Registry will be available as of July 30, 2022. Besides standard administrative information (name, address…) the following information regarding the nest will be required in order to register it into the system
      • Date on which the abandoned nest was found
      • Species name (from drop down list of species listed in Schedule 1)
      • Number of nests (for colonial species)
      • Location of each nest (latitude and longitude coordinates of the nest, as well as province in which nest is located)
    • The designated wait time begins on the day that the nest is registered in the Abandoned Nests Registry

Temporary possession of a migratory bird

  • In certain situations, will be authorized to temporarily possess dead, injured or live migratory birds

Indigenous peoples

  • Recognition of existing Aboriginal and treaty harvesting rights recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
  • Modernized language to ensure that the Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022 more fully represent Indigenous peoples and their Aboriginal and treaty rights specifically; the use, gifting, sale or exchange of feathers, the right to hunt, gift or exchange migratory birds, and the right to harvest their eggs

Migratory game bird hunting

  • Introduction of the free Migratory Game Bird Hunting (MGBH) Permit and Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp for youth/minors (under 18 years of age)
    • Youth must hunt with a mentor, and may benefit from the entire open and special conservation seasons, with their own bag and possession limit
    • Mentors may hunt while hunting with the holder of a youth MGBH permit
    • The Youth MGBH Permit is only available through the MGBH e-permitting system
    • Waterfowl Heritage Days have been repealed
  • Concept of preservation of harvested birds introduced, with preserved birds (except for murres) no longer counting towards possession limit. Preserved birds do not need to be labelled
  • Harvested birds may be donated for charitable purposes
  • Cross bows may be used to hunt migratory birds
  • Minimum requirements introduced for arrows and bolts
  • The use of drones for hunting migratory birds is prohibited
  • Choice to leave either a fully feathered head or wing on unpreserved birds
  • Birds found shot and picked up count in the hunter`s possession limit (even if shot by someone else)
  • Prohibition on the abandonment of harvested birds
  • The temporary possession of murres by a third party is limited to twice the daily bag limit
  • Open season, bag and possession limit tables (Schedule 3) have been re-formatted so that it is easier to see all of the required information by hunting district/zone

Other migratory birds permits

  • Change in requirements for who may obtain a scientific permit means that more people who have the relevant skills are eligible
  • New Charity Permit allows the permit holder to accept harvested preserved birds, and to serve them as a meal (charitable dinner or soup kitchen) or to give them to customers of a food bank
  • Toxic shot may not be used or possessed under a Damage or Danger permit for the purposes of scaring or killing birds
  • Birds taken under certain Damage and Danger permits may be gifted

For more information

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