1 Million birds might be dying each year due to PVC mining claim markers.

The American Bird Conservancy notes in a press release that a million birds may be dying each year after becoming trapped inside PVC pipes used to mark mining claims throughout the country, but mainly in the west.

Small birds apparently see the opening of PVC pipes used to mark mining claims as a hollow suitable for roosting or nesting or possibly gathering to pool body heat during migration. The birds may enter the holes, only to become trapped because the walls are too smooth to allow them to grapple their way up the sides and the pipes are too narrow for the birds to extend their wings and fly out. Death from dehydration or starvation follows.

The problem is so severe that Nevada even passed a law in 2009 which invalidates all mining claims marked with uncapped or uncrimped pipes and allows citizens to pull them and lay them on the ground nearby. Having uncapped pipes of this nature is a violation of the Migratoy Bird Treaty Act.

The remains of some of the birds found in mining claim marker pipes; Nevada Department of Wildlife
The remains of some of the birds found in mining claim marker pipes; Nevada Department of Wildlife

BLM Determines Bird Deaths From PVC Mining Claim Marker Pipes Widespread
American Bird Conservancy.






  1. Pam Avatar

    This was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago. Never would have thought about it before and wouldn’t have known a mine claim marker if it jumped up and bit me. I spend a fair bit of time tromping around sagebrush country and cover the opening of any open-top markers I come across with big rocks. I have seen a few PVC pipe markers that have series of holes drilled in them. I can only assume this gives birds the traction needed to get out because I haven’t found any dead birds in these. Thanks for spreading the word.

    1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

      I think the holes in the pipes are to make them weigh less for the miners to carry up the mountain, not to help the birds.

  2. skyrim Avatar

    Thanks for covering the markers Pam. I enjoy birds much more than mining claim markers or survey stakes. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…….

  3. Nancy Avatar

    Unfortunately, this is not the only danger created by PVC. I wanted to put up a hoop greenhouse this spring and while reseaching PVC, found quite a few articles about the material:




Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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