Thank you Margy and Carla for this information.  I had assumed Mr. Pierce was certified to do what he was doing and that there were laws, but after being disillusioned by discovering that he was not doing this "professionally," I worried that there were no laws regarding this either. I simply couldn't imagine he would speak so "authoritatively" on the list about something he was doing illegally - and that no one spoke up about it at the time. 

Now I see that what he has been doing all these years has been, and is, illegal.  "Pursuing" nests without legal permission for a project and something where the info will become available and be of use to conservation needs to be illegal - for the birds and land.  What we were doing was "pursuing."  I am gratified to learn all this - very gratified...for everyone to learn this. (Not that I am happy to add to my list that not only was I wrong in what I did and that I put the owls in danger, but that I am an accomplice to something illegal.  That is again, my fault and responsibility.)

I am happy because everyone needs to learn that it is very wrong to make a hobby out of voyeuristic, "just to satisfy my curiousity," trips into bird nest areas to 
find their nests and take photos (and most likely destroy habitat as they go) -  while posing as an expert doing "nest studies" and "documentation."  I have no idea how much damage to birds a person doing this might do over the years without any training and commitment to conservation and permission (oversight) - I don't like to think about that.  It is wrong to do this to satisfy an obsession and desire for pleasure, to OPENLY compile a Life List of nests on a website, like listers compile sightings. I am glad it is illegal.  Obviously, it's not enforced well. 
In the beginning of my birding, I learned (and felt this myself) that all nests/breeding areas are ananthema -  and to be extra careful during breeding times, to not make bird calls to pull birds off their nests, to watch where you are walking, to leave the breeding birds alone so they don't leave their young alone, to not do anything to attract predators, etc. 

I find it odd that Mr. Pierce has made a hobby out of something birders 
are supposed to avoid - and now I have discovered is ILLEGAL.  I like the term Margy emphasized - "pursuing."    I believe that only a well-trained bird conservationist would know how to do what he says that he does - and even then, they would never be doing it for his reasons - to create a Life List of Nests!   They would probably focus mainly on endangered birds and their nests (or unusual patterns and changes in bird nesting habits to help us understand various ecological issues we are desperately trying to turn around) - and then, very cautiously and carefully - and with permission. And they would publish their findings where they would be of use and importance and add to our knowledge of the birds. 

Intentions matter so much.  Actions, even more.

I wondered why Mr. Pierce never responded to anyone's concerns on the list. Now I know why.  Off the list, he has said that everything I accused him of is true.   Off list, he has written that he sees all this as "over-reacting," people trying to "irk" him who don't like him, and he even joked that he worried about the police coming to break his door down after Jason's post.

As a sweet woman who emailed me privately said, "something good will come of this."  This is good.  I hope we all learn from it.  I know I have.  

Thank you all so so much,
Chris McClarren
St. Louis South City
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---- Carla Bascom <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
> RE: laws covering nesting native birds
> I would like to draw a distinction between the ABA ethics and the Migratory 
> Bird Treaty Laws.  The "ethics" are  suggestions of respectful behaviors 
> conducted in the pursuit of the pastime of birdwatching.  The Migratory Bird 
> Treaty Laws are laws, backed up by Fish and Wildlife rules and regulations, 
> enforced by US Fish and Wildlife Agents and managed by District Offices 
> located in various parts of the US.  Our district office is in Minnesota.  One of 
> the sections of the Migratory Bird Treaty Law is that it is illegal to disturb the 
> nest of any native bird species.  
> In the pursuit of gaining data on the nesting habits of GHO in Missouri, the 
> process is to present your project to Minnesota.  Usually, this submission is 
> done through a university that is sponsoring the studies of the researcher.
> The web sites that were listed in Marge's e-mail are a good review of what our 
> legal responsibilities are as we go birding.  Birders come upon many different 
> situations involving the actvities of birds.  With the breeding season coming 
> up, as birds become more visible, it is always a good idea to go back over 
> these laws.  I always keep in mind that these laws are there to protect the 
> birds, which they do.  They present me with a parameter in which I can enjoy 
> birding, but not disturb the birds.
> Carla Bascom
> Permit holder Lakeside Nature Center
> USFWS Rehabilitation, Possession, and Salvage Permits
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