Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial
Compiled by Marla Mertz, Naturalist, Marion County Conservation

The last several homepage topics have led up to the 100 year celebration of the conference that lead to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). We’ve highlighted John F. Lacey and the federal conservation legislation in which he dedicated his service to the protection of birds over a century ago; a little bit about birds and what makes them unique; modern day extinction; Iowa’s Bird Conservation Areas (BCA) and other items of interest to those who have a passion for birds and their local and global connections. This is not the typical column that this site normally chooses, but we would like to introduce to you how Iowa, the United States, and other countries have pulled together to adopt a uniform system of protection to assure the preservation of our avian species.

Visit these pages:

Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial 1916-2016 Timeline: This is a fascinating link that has an interactive timeline about Bird Conservation History. This timeline begins in 1799 when Benjamin Smith Barton publishes the first ornithological book in the U.S. to present year centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty convention. Includes numerous initiatives, conservation acts, conservation plans, breeding bird surveys, treaties with Japan and Russia, waterfowl management, and much more. Below are a just a few historical moments from the timeline:

The Lacey Act limited market hunting by making it illegal to transport or sell a bird in one state when illegally hunted in another state. When the Lacey Act was passed in 1900, it became the first federal law protecting wildlife. It enforces civil and criminal penalties for the illegal trade of animals and plants. Today it regulates the import of any species protected by international or domestic law and prevents the spread of invasive, or non-native, species.

snowy egret
Convention Treaty with Canada - Treaty between the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds that adopted a uniform system of protection with the goal – “assure the preservation of species either harmless or beneficial to man”; establishes species to be covered by the treaty; makes the first distinction between game birds, insectivorous birds, and non-game birds; set closed dates for hunting game birds, closed the season entirely on insectivorous & other non-game birds; established the take of birds for scientific or propagating purposes for insectivorous and other non-game birds; prohibits export of birds and eggs except for scientific and propagating purposes; and establishes permits to control birds that become agricultural pests.
eastern meadowlark
Canada passes Migratory Bird Convention Act

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on July 3, 1918.

The year 2016 marks the centennial of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds, officially called the "Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds."

Why the celebration?
Birds are around us each and every day! Something we must not take for granted.
There are many reliable organizations in Iowa, plus the US Fish and Wildlife Service, that are involved in the world of our birds. Here are a few organizations that you may enjoy looking into and seeing what they are all about!

hooded mergansers
Take this centennial as an opportunity to learn more about the birds that share our environment!

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Raptor Viewing Etiquette

We should all observe good raptor viewing etiquette, not only during the nesting season, but also during this time of migration. 

Remember that raptors are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and golden eagles have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Upcoming Programs and Opportunities

Check back soon!

Who am I? for the week of 22 August

So, let’s get down to it. Put on those thinking caps, grab your friends and family, and let’s play! Remember — no cheating!

  • I am sometimes mistaken to be a small bird,
  • I am a pollinator,
  • I can hover, fly sideways and backwards,
  • I have a really long tongue, and
  • I have bold and colorful wings.
What am I? Make your guess, and then go here for the answer and more interesting facts. Did you get it right?! If not, no worries — you’ll have another chance next week!

In the news...

Check these out!

Iowa Young Birders - Check out this group formed in 2011 to help young people experience the joy and wonder of finding, seeing, and identifying birds! Check out the Iowa Young Birders website for info and field trip opportunities! <jealous!>

Developmentally-appropriate activities for early childhood learners to explore the natural world can be found at KinderNature!

Healthy and Happy Outdoors - Learn more about this Iowa Department of Natural Resources initiative here. Register with the program and record your outdoor activities in Iowa parks and recreation areas with each recorded activity a chance to win outdoor gear in a drawing.  The site also has a search feature for finding outdoor activities in Iowa.

Visit MyCountyParks.com to check out a park or wildlife area you might want to explore managed by one of Iowa's 99 county conservation boards! Look here for events and activities, too!