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Submitted on
July 8, 2010


2 (who?)
Most of us work with feathers, so cloudstar-wolf wrote this very important little reminder for us regarding some legal issues with having/selling feathers. This really is important info, and well worth looking at!!

I did this for my LJ, but I think it also works for the group too since we were discussing it. Kinda a quick read and to the point about feathers and legality.

cause it's been expressed.

This is the list of illegal feathers in the United States. There are other laws concerning parts outside the US, and there are seperate laws for taxidermists who have permits and for educators. But these are the feathers that you can not have.

List of Illegal to own birds/parts/feathers in a PDF:…

The known exceptions to this are legally taken candian geese, you can not pick up a feather and claim it, it has to have a traceable permit. They can not be sold, bartered or traded. Meaning just gifts. They can be sold for BEDDING and for FLY TYING ( and yes, fly tie people get away with A LOT).

Turkeys are a-okay and pheasants. No pigeons, no corvids( jays, crows, ravens...) no songbirds ; the list of exceptions is WAY shorter than the list of “not alright”.

Non-native species are okay. There's nothing to limit buying macaw feathers and parakeets and any number of pet birds. But if you buy outside the US you have to also make sure that it's legal from the country you're getting the feathers FROM and the country you are bringing them to- there might be permits and other permissions that cost money for you bring those objects to the states or to send them off, and even then you might not be allowed to send things.

State laws are completely different. As in Alaska- the laws are MUCH stricter. All feathers that are sold in the stores have an 'out of country clause'... even duck feathers. The goose feathers sold are from China and you can tell the difference because the quill is completely white and not greyish like a canadian goose.

If you have ANY questions at all... contact your local Fish and Game people. They like the honesty and the curiousity and the want to make a thing right. By contacting them you are putting your tax dollars to use even if you want to get technical... ^^. So think of it that way, maybe a little more to do. But better educated about what is alright and what is clearly not.


Thank you very much cloudstar-wolf!!
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NinjaLizzard Aug 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I just wanted to ask, just to clarify what I'm allowed to do and what I should get rid of straight away... I've spent the last several weeks wandering around my downtown where we've got a rather large pond that's been home to wild ducks and geese for years and picking up feathers that I've found on the ground (and my god there are a ton of them all over the place!) with the intention of making art out of them. I've already finished cleaning them all and currently they're just sitting out to dry, but according to that list of birds that was provided, my wonderful Canadian Goose feathers, and the Duck feathers (breeds of which I'm not even going to pretend to know) as well as Seagull and Possible Swan feathers (as they all live in the pond and aside from the large goose feathers and the duck feathers with blue streaks, I have no idea how to tell which is which). I suppose my question is, are these common feathers going to get me in serious trouble if I use them in any sort of art; will they (potentially) get me in trouble for keeping them for myself (as I love feathers to death!), or should I just get rid of the lot of them?
Sorry for not noticing your comment sooner!! >.< From what I understand and have been told of with the laws, you aren't allowed to pick up those feathers legally speaking. Of course, people still do all the time, so unless you try to sell these feathers there's a low chance of you getting caught. The only exception for feather gathering that I know of is if you're Native American and it is done on reservation land. This is because of the Migratory Bird annoying as it is, since you cannot technically prove that you gathered these feathers from the ground rather than, say, shot the birds illegally. If you make art with them you will not be able to sell it (legally).

The only birds it's safe to gather feathers from are domestics (like the swan feathers you might not get in trouble for, and if the ducks are domestic kept breeds like standing ducks you'd be alright), or birds that were legally hunted with documentation proving such.

Birds like Canadian geese, crows, any "songbird", etc., even though they're EXTREMELY common, you're not supposed to gather feathers from. If you want to keep them and know your house won't be checked or you're not selling them that is an option, LOTS of people collect feathers (I see people walking around with hawk/owl feathers in their hats all the time), so it's kind of one of those laws that isn't strictly enforced. But if you want to go the legal route, sell your feathered crafts, etc., it's best not to keep them. If you're looking to make crafts for selling, it's best to get something like domestic goose feathers and painting them to look like a different bird's feathers.

And to think, in other countries it's perfectly legal to keep feathers like this, even from owls and raptors!
Lyrak Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I would play it safe and not use them until you identify them and make sure. They could potentially get you in trouble for just keeping them for yourself, but I think a lot of people have small collections of feathers they gathered and I don't expect most places are going to try and bust everyone for that.

You best bet would be to hunt around online, try to see if you can identify what they are, and if it's a kind of bird that is also raised domestically you're usually safe because anything domestic you're okay to keep. I want to say it's mallards that have the blue streaks on some of the feathers... either way them or something related to them some people keep as farm ducks, you see the blue-streaked duck feathers in craft stores all the time.
This is very good information, but my GOD these people are anal.

I think it is ridiculous that if a feather falls off of a bird while it is MOLTING (which is a natural occurrence, as I am sure you all know) you can't pick it up off the ground and keep it or use it in artwork that you create. How stupid!

As long as the feather comes off during a natural molt, I don't think it should matter.
Late reply on this...but seriously, tell me about it -_-; The problem is they can't PROVE you just picked it up off the ground. Now, they could do something like issue permits and require you to check in when you collect a feather and be subject to random inspections or something, but that'd be seen as a waste of money/resources. Really it's a law that's not upheld that often unless you come across people who will report you for it, or just so happen to tell the wrong person what kind of feathers you have (I talked to someone yesterday who was telling me they had owl feathers...I told her from now on it's best not to tell people about that due to it being illegal to keep them. She didn't even know it was illegal to do so, and that she crafts with them all the time). The law was put there with the good intention of preventing people from poaching birds and such, but it's ridiculous when feathers are so gosh darned easy to find! Only way around it is to move to a different country, lol.
Lyrak Jun 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think Europe is saner on those rules from what I've heard... But supposedly the idea behind the US laws is "well you can't prove you didn't shoot it." Which is just... wtf?
MattsyKun Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, thanks for that pdf! I needed to show someone what feathers they could own. :meow:
Ela-Hara Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great References and some things I did not know....
Well shoot, I've been collecting all sorts of feathers that I've been finding in my backyard that are on that list. Is it still alright to use them for art on this site, as long as we don't sell/barter/trade them?
I don't know the legalities, but I know you've gotta be careful, because if the wrong person finds out you've got certain feathers, they could get destroyed and you can face some nasty fines (or worse...?). It's best to ask Fish and Game, as state laws differ as well. I say if you want to keep your feathers, just keep them low-key, and definitely don't do any business with them (sell/barter/trade). Lots of people get around these laws quite often (I've seen people around here with owl feathers in their hat, for example), so it's just a matter of how much risk you're willing to take and how lucky you get with that in the end.
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