That men mostly of Guyanese descent brought caged finches to Queens parks and made bets on which one would tweet fifty times first was news to us. Now we find U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorities have become involved because the finches are suspected of having been smuggled into the United States. The finches are a big deal in the community, and are trained with recordings to sing faster. But appropriate birds are hard to come by locally. Unwilling to pay quarantine charges, some unscrupulous suppliers are said to hide the birds on passenger flights from Guyana; one was found in a hair curler bag “with about 50 pounds of grass seed.” The smuggler was fined $250 in a split decision.
Guyana isn’t the only place with a finch-smuggling problem. Earlier this month Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guardsmen chased down two men attempting to flee with 60 illegally obtained finches. 54 birds drowned as the men tried to dispose of the evidence. The worth of their cargo was estimated at $180,000.
In Connecticut, meanwhile, the state department of agriculture has found finches engaged in another sort of competition: bird fights. Authorities rounded up 150 fighting finches, some badly injured. Some canaries were found mixed in with the finches, presumably as ringers (they “can become aggressive during mating season,” says Planetsave). Photo (cc) chrispearson72.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 27, 2009