Have you ever found a feather on the ground, and picked it up?
I collected stray feathers all the time as a child. But, I know today we're not supposed to touch such things for fear of germs, or lice, or mites, or something even worse.
Even so, as a homeschool mother, when the children found a few feathers, while out looking for pine cones, I immediately saw a science lesson, or potential craft.
What I did not see, was an illegal act. However, that is just what we were dangerously approaching.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits, among other things, the collecting of bird feathers from over 800 species of birds, even if those feathers are found lying, unwanted, on the ground.
I wasn't too worried, that we had crossed the line. Montana authorities generally take a common sense approach to the enforcement of environmental laws. Even so, I did check with our local game warden, just to be sure we were safe. A child picking up a feather is one thing, but he did warn us to steer clear of eagle, owl, and other raptor feathers.
It might sound a little silly, or extreme, that even a feather found in your own yard, can be illegal to collect or keep, but remember the regulations were written at a time when wearing feathered hats was all the rage. To get a better feel for the heart behind the law, you might want to glance through Kathryn Lasky's She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!...
...and then check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, for guidelines, before you take that next walk in the woods, or stroll through town.
It's great to be a homeschooler.