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Ornithology Exchange
  • 115 articles in this category

    1. USFWS proposes formal MBTA incidental take rule

      Author: Ornithological Council

      Update: Read the comments filed by the Ornithological Council.

      Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing a rule that defines the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to provide regulatory certainty to the public, industries, states, tribes and other stakeholders.

      This proposed rule clarifies that the scope of the MBTA only extends to conduct intentionally injuring birds. Conduct that results in the unintentional (incidental) injury or death of migratory birds is not prohibited under the act.

      Background: the USFWS under this Administration developed a policy known as an M-Opinion, which is internal agency policy, stating that the law does not prohibit incidental take of migratory bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

      The policy has been in litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for some time and is still pending. It is unlikely to be adjudicated before June of this year and any decision will be appealed.

      Throughout this time, the USFWS has stated that it intends to promulgate a formal regulation. Doing so would obviate one of the key aspects of the legal challenge - that there was no opportunity for public input. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, public input is required when a formal regulation is proposed.



    2. Gearing up for field season - get your permit apps in early

      Author: Ornithological Council

      Field season is right around the corner! If you haven't already applied for your permits/renewals, do it ASAP.

      URGENT NEWS FOR THOSE NEEDING PERMITS FROM USFWS REGION 8: This information was received by the Ornithological Council on 23 Jan 2020:

      Our office is currently very short-staffed and is experiencing a backlog of one year with processing permits and mail.

      Do not follow up with a hard copy unless asked to do so or if you are sending a processing fee through the mail.  The only way we can accept processing fees is with a hard copy check or money order payable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

      Reports – if you are submitting a report, no further action is needed.

      Applications – if you are submitting an application.  No further action is needed; however, we do recommend following up with our office if you have not heard from us after 6 months.

      Questions – if you have a question, a response may require research and time.  We appreciate your patience and will respond to your inquiry at our earliest opportunity.


    3. AOU and Other Societies to Evolve Into New Society for Ornithology 1 2 3

      In a unanimous vote at the July 2011 annual meeting, the AOU Council approved a motion to move forward with planning to form a new society, with ultimate hopes of uniting and strengthening Western Hemisphere ornithology. The plan could involve a merger of AOU and one or more other ornithological societies into a western hemisphere ornithological society tentatively named the Society for Ornithology.

    4. Update on Society for Ornithology business plan

      We are writing to update the ornithological community on our efforts to develop a business plan for the Society for Ornithology. We understand that lack of details at this point can be frustrating. However, we are working as quickly and thoughtfully as we can so that soon you will have a better idea of what we are proposing and be able to comment on it. (6 comments)

    5. Thinking Critically About "A Vision for the Society for Ornithology"

      Author: John Marzluff

      Are you aware of the consequences to governance and editorial boards for American ornithology that would occur if our current societies merged into a single Society for Ornithology? Are corporate leaders appropriate board members for a scientific society? Do you think our financial situations warrant an immediate action toward the new society? Please take the time to think critically about what our pending decisions may mean for American ornithology by reading the following thought piece.

    6. AOU and COS agree to pursue merger

      Leaders of the AOU and COS formally approved pursuit of a merger of the two organizations at their annual meeting in Norman, Oklahoma. Both societies will be seeking input from their members as they take the necessary steps in this pursuit.



      UPDATE: 22 Dec 2015: Compilation of responses from members.


      UPDATE: 22 Sept 2015: AOU and COS leadership respond to inquiries from past COS presidents. Posted in the comments, below, with permission from the authors.



      UPDATE 14 Oct 2015: Society leadership reaches out to membership. See request for input below, under main article.

    7. Follow the ongoing Society for Ornithology discussions

      As the number of articles, discussions, and files related to the prospective Society for Ornithology grows, we wanted to provide an index to every article and post on the subject. Latest update 11 October 2012

      • Letters from the AFO and COS presidents to their societies
      • Report from WOS president regarding AOU-COS task forces

      Provide Your Feedback. A new forum where you can provide feedback regarding the proposed Society for Ornithology.

    8. Ornithological Council small grants program: Call for Proposals

      Author: Ellen Paul

      The Ornithological Council is pleased to issue a Call for Proposals for a new small grants program to fund conservation-oriented research in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Ornithological Council programa de pequeñas subvenciones para investigación: solicitud de propuestas. El Consejo de Ornitología se complace en publicar una convocatoria de propuestas para un nuevo programa de pequeñas donaciones para financiar la conservación orientado a la investigación en México, el Caribe, América Central y América del Sur. DEADLINE AUGUST 1.

    9. USFWS to issue programmatic environmental impact statement on incidental take of MBTA species

      Author: Ornithological Council

      USFWS takes first step towards possible regulation of incidental take of bird species protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act: will prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement


      Full text of the notice and instructions for comments are here.

    10. GOP trying to block enforcement of Migratory Bird Treaty Act via appropriations bills

      The House has passed an appropriations bill (H.R. 2578) for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and Related Agencies with one unbelievable rider - it "enjoins" the use of appropriated funds for use in prosecuting or holding liable any corporation or person for a violation of section 2(a) of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


      UPDATE 8 JULY: GREAT NEWS: The Duncan amendment is no more. It was removed from the CJS appropriations bill weeks ago and was never approved by the House Interior appropriations subcommittee. It was thought that he would try to introduce it when the full House considered the Interior appropriations bill, but he has not done so. There's more bird-blues on Capitol Hill still to come, including a provision that blocks ESA-listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse and Duncan's H.R. 493, which would amend the MBTA to preclude incidental take. Fortunately, H.R.493 is not moving and has few co-sponsors as Congress heads into the long August recess. If things change, we'll let you know so check back often.


      Read full article for more info.

    11. MBTA incidental take situation worsens; formal regulation to be proposed

      Author: Ornithological Council

      UPDATE JULY 2019:

      The draft regulation that would codify the "Jorjani M-Opinion" stating that the MBTA dos not cover incidental take was apparently been circulated in early July to other federal agencies for comment. This is a standard process for pending regulations pertaining to matters that impact those agencies, or for which those agencies have shared legal authority (which is the case with most natural resource laws). The agencies were given only 15 days to respond, which is an incredibly short period of time - far shorter than is the norm.

      It is not known if the draft was also circulated to the state agencies (also standard practice; the states share responsibility and authority for protection of migratory birds). The OC is attempting to ascertain if the state agencies have been asked for their input yet. It is anticipated that the USFWS will face substantial push-back from the states, or many of them. In fact, one of the two lawsuits against the underlying M-Opinion was filed by a group of State Attorneys General. Both lawsuits - the case filed by the states and another filed by a group of NGOs - are still pending in the Southern District of New York. It was thought that the USFWS would not publish the proposed regulation for public comment until that case was resolved because if the decision is unfavorable to the USFWS (i.e., strikes down the M-Opinion), the new regulation would either be moot in its entirety or perhaps have to be re-written in accordance with the court decision.







      • 1 comment
    12. Strategic Planning for the Proposed Society for Ornithology

      Author: John Faaborg, Scott Johnson, Kim Sullivan , Jorge Perez-Eman, Erica Nol, and Bob Beason

      At a meeting held in Dallas, TX, 10-11 February 2012, the SFO Committee met with the AOU Council and presidents of the AFO, SCO/SOC, COS, NOS, and WOS to explore avenues to re-vitalize ornithology and its professional organization. After two days of discussion, the group elected to move forward by developing a structure for a Society for Ornithology that will result in dissolving the original Committee to make way for a new committee with equal representation from all interested ornithological societies.

      • 1 comment
    13. OC 2014 Small Grants Call for Proposals / Solicitud de Propuestas

      Author: Ellen Paul

      The Ornithological Council is pleased to call for proposals for the 2014 round of grants to be made under the OC Small Grants Program.

      El Consejo Ornitologíco se complace en la convocatoria de propuestas para el 2014 ronda de subvenciones que se harán en el marco del Programa de Pequeñas Subvenciones del OC.

      • 1 comment
    14. The Ornithology Exchange introduces its new Funding Portal

      The Ornithology Exchange proud to announce a new Funding Portal which aims to help ornithologists find ways to fund their research. The portal features our brand new Grants & Awards database, recent announcements like RFPs and deadline reminders, a discussion forum where you can ask for help, and a list of links to other online resources.

      • 1 comment
    15. The best way to get a job...

      Join an ornithological society. Today. A tool as essential as your binoculars!

      • 1 comment
    16. American Ornithologists' Union Hires First Executive Director

      Author: Sue Haig

      The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) announces the appointment of Melinda Pruett-Jones as its first executive director. The move signals its important progression from an all-volunteer-based society to one guided by a executive leader. Her first task will be to guide the AOU Council of elected members and formers presidents in strategic planning to advance the society’s bold vision for the field of ornithology.

      • 1 comment
    17. Ornithological Council and other societies petition Dept. of Interior for fix to CITES problem

      Scientists exercise First Amendment right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances!

      • 1 comment
    18. Happy Darwin Day

      Darwin wasn't an ornithologist, but surely he deserves a posthumous award!

      • 1 comment
    19. Pip, pip, hooray! Say goodbye to that apostrophe!

      American Ornithologists' Union. It is a plural possessive. How many times have you seen that apostrophe placed before the "s"?


      No more!

      • 1 comment
    20. Numerous bird-related regulations appear to be extinct

      Author: Ornithological Council

      It is no secret that the current U.S. administration has great disdain for regulations. It now looks as though several bird-related regulations - including some that would have affected ornithological research - are now on the scrap heap. Gone are pending regulations on CITES, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Animal Welfare Act. The bird banding regulatory revisions have been consigned to the long-term action list. Updates to the Wild Bird Conservation Act are still moving forward, as are regulations updating import and export procedures and an increase in permit and other fees.

      • 1 comment
    21. Time to apply for permits & permit renewal

      Author: Ellen Paul

      Yes, it is only February, but now is the time to apply for new permits or for permit renewal...you will be glad you did!

    22. Another way forward? An alternative to the SFO that societies have considered...

      Author: Mercedes Foster

      Societies, and perhaps their members, will soon be called on to comment on the business plan being developed by the Society for Ornithology committee this weekend (Feb.11-12) in Texas. As they ponder that plan, perhaps they should also consider alternatives to the SFO, a bold measure with sweeping consequences for ornithology and for the ornithological societies. Might there be other ways to address the concerns that motivate the SFO proposal, while retaining the identity, history, and culture of the individual societies?

    23. Confidential survey for bird banders

      Author: Ellen Paul

      Help us help you by answering a short survey about your experiences in obtaining banding permits.

    24. Comments Solicited for Emerging Plan to Initiate SFO

      Feedback for the SFO planning committee:


      The new SFO planning committee is preparing the documents that will describe what the new organization is intended to be, what it will do, and how it will function. When drafts are available for comment, they will be posted here, and we hope you will join the discussion in this forum. The governance subcommittee has released a draft for comment and would like to have your feedback. Read more about it here and join the discussion.

    25. Update on AOU/COS task forces: opportunities and new directions for ornithological societies

      AOU President Sue Haig reports on the efforts of the joint task forces considering new directions, opportunities, and structures for ornithological societies...

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