Aug 20, 2012

Mourning Dove vs. Pressure Washer


This mourning dove, with her nest of two eggs, is about to get power-washed.

Actually, these kinds of threats to wild birds are not uncommon, especially in spring and summer months - the time when people typically trim trees, clear brush, and fix up their homes, coinciding, however, with the peak nesting season for many migratory birds.

Often, what people don't realize 
is that disturbing a wild bird or its nest can result in substantial fines.

Wild birds, their nests and eggs, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), administrated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The pertinent section (16 USC § 703) of this federal law reads:
...it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird,...
The law doesn't make tree trimming or power-washing a home illegal, but if, in the process, a protected bird is injured or an active nest is disturbed or damaged, the responsible party can be held accountable. Fines vary, but can be as high as $1,000.00 per incident with an additional $100.00 per bird or item (nest).


Outside a window of a townhouse slated for fumigation.
Occasionally, wildlife rescuers are called upon to save an active bird's nest, like the one pictured above. A word of caution - even a licensed wildlife professional, with federal permits allowing them to rescue and transport protected birds, would be in violation of the law if they disturbed an active nest. Ideally, they should wait until after the violation has been committed before they intervene to perform a rescue.

As for the mourning dove and her nest, we hope the property management postpones power-washing and painting of the townhouses, at least until October, giving this dove time to raise her young.

A huge Thank You! to the homeowner who was concerned enough to call us!

We urge people to report potential, impending violations of the MBTA to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (see numbers below). If witnessing a violation in progress, thorough documentation and collection of evidence can be helpful in prosecuting such a crime.



US Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Offices in California:
Torrance, CA 310-328-1516
Burlingame, CA 650-876-9078
Sacramento, CA 916-414-6660