Birds & Animals
Q: Where can I get feathers from hawks or ravens? 4/14/99
A: From time to time people ask me how they can legally get an eagle, owl, hawk, or other bird feathers.
The shortest answer is, you can’t. Possession of a feather from a wildbird carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in a federal prison and $50,000 in fines. Mind you, most Fish and Wildlife departments won’t go after you for quite that much, but I have heard perfectly true horror stories about zealous officials pressing charges for the maximum against little old ladies who made pretty pictures with the wild bird feathers they picked up in their backyards. So ask yourself—are you feeling lucky? Probably not, and for most of us, a $1,000 fine and court-costs would put a hefty dent in the old bank account, and that is the least you can expect to have to pay. All it takes is for someone who is mad at you to turn you in to Fish and Wildlife, and the next thing you know, federal agents will be tearing up your house looking for the feather.
It is easier to tell you what feathers are legal to have: all parrots and cockatoos with one exception: Thick-billed Parrots. All domestic fowl, meaning swans, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks. All ratites; emus, ostrich. All game birds—wild ducks, wild geese, wild turkeys, quail, pheasants, prairie chicken—if there’s a season on it,you can have the feathers. Starlings and English sparrows. That’s it.
Now it’s time to get creative. If what you want is a raven feather, trya black chicken or swan. Eagle, hawk, or owl—there are painted turkey feathers so realistic that they can fool experts quite close up. Or, you can trim and paint a white turkey feather yourself; you’ll want touse fabric paints and a good photo-reference. Another option is to cross-stitch or embroider a feather; do two mirror-images and mount them wrong sides together. By the time you are done, it will be really andtruly yours!