All About CITES

The Difference Between CITES and the US Endangered Species Act

  1. Many aviculturists are confused about our wildlife laws and how they "interact" with each other. One of the most confusing points is that CITES Appendix I listed species are not always "US Endangered Species". This is because the US ESA or United States Endangered Species Act protects or lists species that meet certain criteria, not necessarily the same as the criteria to list them on CITES Appendix I.
  2. Many of the larger macaws are listed on CITES Appendix I, and therefore their International trade is prohibited except as captive-bred birds coming from a CITES approved facility. CITES Appendix I includes the Spix's macaw, Lear's, Scarlet, Military, Buffon's, Blue-throated, Hyacinth, Red-fronted, Blue-headed, and Illiger's macaws.
    Yet the US ESA does not include any of these except the Spix's and Lear's macaws. So, for all intents and purposes here in the United States, we can freely exchange, breed, or possess any of these birds except the Lear's or Spix's macaw within our State, or in interstate commerce. To trade or sell a Spix's or Lear's macaw from one State to another would require federal permits. The arms of the CITES Convention only affect International movements at this point in time. The USFWS is working on incorporating many of the resolutions into our domestic laws for the future and we must keep an eye on the regulations to make sure that these commonly kept and bred species are not restricted internally within the United States. The American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. monitors the Federal Register for any pending legislation that would affect bird keeping here in the U.S.
  3. Currently the United States Endangered Species Act includes the following parrot species (often found here in aviculture) and any movement across a State line that involves money or commerce would require federal permits. To loan or donate one of these species to another breeder in another State, or within your own State does not require the federal permit. It is also legal to sell these birds within your own State! NOTE: All of these species are also listed on either CITES Appendix I or II and would require US Federal and CITES permits to ship in International Commerce. (US Avicultural species listed on the US Endangered Species Act) Vinaceous, Red-browed, Puerto Rican, Red-necked, Red-tailed, St. Vincent's, and Cuban amazons. Golden and Blue-throated Conures, Thick-billed parrots, Pileated Parrots (South American), Hooded parakeets. Recently more species have been added to this act, some have been exempted from interstate commerce permit requirements due to their pet-trade popularity here in the U.S. These include the Moluccan cockatoo, and soon, the Umbrella cockatoo, red-vented cockatoo and lesser sulfur-crested cockatoo. Check with the AFA or your USFWS to see if a permit is required for sales across a State line before you ship a bird in commerce.
  4. Even though we call many of the parrot species now found on CITES Appendix I, Endangered, for our purposes here in the United States, with the exception of the short list above, they are not regulated unless we plan to ship them across an International border (yes, even Canada or Mexico). The list of CITES Appendix I parrots is extensive and includes many of the birds we breed and sell into our domestic pet trade. For a complete list, you can contact the USFWS in Washington, at 800-358-2104, or visit