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Find a Dead Bird?

“I found a dead bird. Can I get it mounted and keep it?”

This is a question we get from time to time. It depends on the type of bird. You may want to consult a bird guide to figure out what kind of bird it is if you aren't sure.

Here are some guidelines going from most restrictive to least.

Non-game Migratory Birds such as Songbirds and Hawks - Restricted

Non-game migratory birds, such as hawks and songbirds, are protected and can be mounted with the proper permits, but can only be displayed in a museum, nature center, school, university, library or other public area for educational purposes.

Most of these places, especially the museums and nature centers, already have the proper permits and you would be covered under those permits. Migratory birds must have both a Federal Wildlife Salvage Permit and a Virginia Wildlife Salvage Permit attached to it.

Here's a list of Nature Centers in Virginia.

Protected Migratory Birds:
  • Pelicans
  • Cormorants, Anhingas
  • Loons, Grebes
  • Gulls, Skimmers, Terns
  • Auks
  • Egrets, Herons
  • Nightjars
  • Swifts
  • Hummingbirds
  • Black Rail
  • Yellow Rail
  • Eagles, Hawks, Owls
  • Woodpeckers
  • Native Sparrows
  • Songbirds of any kind
  • Blackbirds
  • Ravens

Game Birds such as Duck or Quail - Yes with permits

Yes, if you find a dead migratory or non-migratory game bird, (a species with a legal hunting season for it such as a wild duck or a quail), you can get it mounted with the proper permits and have it displayed in your home.

Migratory Game Birds:
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Tundra Swan
  • American Coot
  • Common Moorhen
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Clapper Rail
  • King Rail
  • Virginia Rail
  • Sora Rail
  • Mourning Dove
  • Wilson's Snipe
  • American Woodcock
  • American Crow
  • Fish Crow
Non-migratory Game birds:
  • Northern Bobwhite Quail
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Wild Turkey

If you find a game bird, start by calling The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804.367.1000

Non-native Unprotected Birds:

Anything goes with these. No permit required. They can even be bought and sold.

  • Rock Dove (Feral Street City Pigeon)
  • European Starling
  • English House Sparrow
  • Eurasian Collared Dove

So you're allowed to get it mounted. What next?

When you find a freshly killed bird you would like to get mounted, put it in a plastic Ziploc-type bag and get it into a cool place, preferably a freezer, as soon as possible. Call us and we can answer any questions you might have.

If you decide to get the bird mounted, it is recommended that you text or email a photo of the bird, or have us come to you and inspect it to make sure it is in good condition to make a nice looking mount. Birds found dead in the Winter and Spring usually make the best mounts because they are fully plumed out during those times of the year.