What about Maggie?

n 2008 my husband and I, along with Maggie, my Timneh African grey began our retirement dream of cruising America’s Great Loop on our 30-foot boat. We cruised up the east coast of the US and into Canada at Kingston, Ontario, where my husband cleared customs via phone from the dock. No one questioned us about the presence of a parrot on board, and even though I had checked the internet before we left as to regulations about traveling with parrots, I had found no info about the CITES treaty. I had taken Maggie to the vet and had her wings clipped and she was given her polyomavirus vaccine. I had the receipt with me just in case. We traveled through the Trent-Severn Waterway system in Canada and checked back into the US at Drummond Island, MI, where the customs official commented on Maggie’s presence with a shrug.

The following year we drove across the US with a camper trailer with Maggie sitting atop her travel cage in the back seat of our truck for most of the trip. We crossed the border into Canada somewhere in Montana. No mention was made of Maggie, sitting in plain sight atop her cage. In fact, the Canadian customs official barely even looked at us when he checked our passports.

We drove across Canada and passed into AK at the tiny outpost of Beaver Creek, where the young customs agent talked to Maggie and laughed at her whistling. But then, a few weeks later, when we crossed back into Canada I heard the first mention of the CITES treaty. The Canadian customs official told me that, while she could legally confiscate my bird, this time she would not. I was flabbergasted! I told her I had checked the internet and the only regulation I could find was that the bird be a pet and have been in my possession for more than 90 days. We thanked her and went on our merry way until we came to the border crossing near Seattle.

The official told us to park and go into the office, where our passports would be returned to us. We were mystified, to say the least. I stayed in the truck with Maggie, thinking, in my naivete, that my husband could walk in, retrieve our passports and away we’d go. NOT! An officer walked by and asked why I was in the truck. I explained to him and he told me to go into the office also. I put the windows down in the truck, thankful for the breeze, and obeyed. (Inside, I found out I could not even go to the restroom without a hassle.) We waited for quite awhile until a vet came, looked at Maggie, commented on her toys, and said he’d have to call Fish and Wildlife.

We also had to write him a check, the amount of which, I have forgotten. After another wait, the F&W man arrived and proceeded to explain the CITES treaty and my criminal negligence. As he was busy writing I explained again that all I had found on the internet was a notice that the bird would have to have been a pet and in my possession for 90 days. He seemed surprised and asked if I had actually attempted to do the right thing. “Of course! I knew there might be some sort of restrictions, but if it’s on the internet I couldn’t find it. I found nothing about parrot passports!” (Apparently the info had been posted after I had already done a search, since I had wanted to be prepared well ahead of time.) He was very nice and tore up the ticket since I had at least made an attempt and he really seemed to sympathize. By the time we finally got to the truck and on our way, we felt a little less criminal, but wonder how in the world we have all these illegal aliens among us.

Ninety days later a vet from the NC state office came by to check on Maggie’s health. She was quite pleasant and we enjoyed a chat with her before she went on her way. Now we are contemplating another trip with the camper, but when I looked at the gov’t website I see the forms need to be processed 60 days before the trip and we don’t have that much time. It might be easier to board Maggie for three weeks than to go through the hassles. Easier for me, but what about Maggie?

My bad taste of Traveling with a Parrot between Canada & USA

I was unable to keep the Peaches but later bought a beautiful female Eclectus. I saw the egg, and raised the bird myself with the help of her breeder. I found a sweet man that loved the bird also and we decided to retire and go south to Texas for the winter and summer in the North. WELL, I did my homework and got all the paperwork I needed to cross successfully & legally with my pet. I even had the Vet. put a microchip in her breast!! I e-mailed back and forth with Monica Ferris who worked for Fish & Game at the time out of Virginia and she helped me get straight with what I had to do. I followed it to the T.
I called Fish & Game to let them know we’d be at the border on a certain day & the time we’d be there, three days in advance of leaving which was what I was told to do by Monica Ferris of U.S. Fish & Game. NO return call came so I figured they’d be there.
Off we go and get to the border crossing & see the Vet. He checked out the paperwork, but knew nothing about Parrots. The Fish & Game person didn’t show up. He called them, but they still didn’t show up and 1-½ hours later the Vet had us checked through customs and we were on our way.
Winter passed and we got ready to come home again. Because we were there for over 3 months I had to get another Vet check and found a great Vet in Corpus Christie that raises Eclectus Parrots and he warned me to call more than 3 days before reaching the border. I called the number given to me 5 days in advance of leaving Texas & every day thereafter while we were on the road and did not get a call back until the night before we planned on getting to the border. To be exact, we were at Wapakoneta Ohio, on the day before we were required to be back over the Canadian border, only a few hours from the border.
The lady that called me back (from the Detroit Airport) informed me that she couldn’t be at the border until Monday afternoon. When I told her we HAD to be on our side of the border on Friday as we could only be in the U.S. 6 months she still insisted she couldn’t get there. I told her I’d be in touch with her head office and hung up, to look up Monica Ferris’s number. Not 5 minutes later she called me back and told me that she’d be at the border crossing at 12:00 noon. I thanked her and we continued on our trip.
We arrived at the border crossing at around 10.00am and waited till 12:30pm. The Vet checked the Vet certificate and all was well there. Fish & Game person arrived at 12:30, walked into the room (in a huff), went to the back of the office and asked to see my paperwork. I walked back, handed the paperwork over and she scanned over it in a matter of seconds, stamped it and then asked me for the $95. She then proceeds to leave and didn’t even look at the bird!! Which, I might add, was on a chair in the corner, in an acrylic carrier. I could have had a Rattlesnake in that carrier and she wouldn’t have known. What a farce and a money grab!! I guess the U.S. is trying to encourage smuggling, as the cost of this procedure to cross was expensive.


Canadian passport for my bird $0
Veterinarian check by my Vet before leaving CA. $80
One Micro Chip placed in my bird $150
Import Export papers USA $70
U.S. Fish & Game Into USA $95
Vet check at the USA border $25
Veterinarian Check before Leaving USA $60
U.S. Fish & Game Out of USA $95
Total Cost $425
If I had only paid $100 for my bird this makes no sense!!

The Canadian passport for the bird is good for 3 years and needs to be stamped before leaving & entering Canada & the USA, which I made sure I did and didn’t mind at all!!
On returning from the USA, the staff at the Canadian border was going to let me just go through without checking the bird in, until I pointed it out that I had a Parrot (who was in plain sight) & needed to have the paperwork stamped. When I started to take the bird out of the truck the Attendant said to leave her there, so I did. I went inside and the Customs Officer didn’t even know what to do with the paperwork. I asked for a supervisor and she didn’t even know what to do with it!! I told them they had to check the vet certificate, stamp the passport, take a copy and give me back the Original. If it hadn’t been for the small print at the bottom of the document, they would have kept my original copy of the Passport!! They had NO clue what to do with this paperwork!! I got that stamped and headed back to the truck & on to road. I could have had a rattler in that carrier and they wouldn’t have known as no one came out to look at the bird!!
The Veterinarian certificate is needed for all animals & pets, again understandable! After owning dogs and crossing borders with them, they don’t even look at the tags or paperwork but let people go through.

The Import Export papers for the USA is also good for 3 years and needs to be stamped on both sides of the border upon entering and leaving the two countries – again Understandable. But $70!!!
Paying an extra $95 in and out of the USA is ludicrous!!! Not to mention a lot of people that have only paid $50 for their pet to begin with are now adding on expenses just to keep their beloved pet with them.
Let’s just encourage smuggling.
Customs Offices on both sides of ALL border crossings (to save on gas consumption for those having to go out of their way to cross at a designated border) should have at least one Officer educated in Exotic pets, and they should have a Micro Chip detecting machine on hand.
All Exotic Pet owners should be required to have a Micro Chip in their pet and the paperwork of ownership. No big deal!! Even if we own a small inexpensive Exotic bird the expense of a Micro Chip and dropping the rest of the expense is worth it as it’s only a one-time expense.
All Veterinarians on both sides of the border should be informed and should in turn inform anyone with Exotics what they need to do before traveling with said Pets. Thereby making a crossing, less frustrating, time consuming & costly for all involved. Allowing people to travel with confidence that they will not have to give up a beloved pet because of experiences that myself and others have been through.
I no longer have my Eclectus because we travel for the winter to Texas and the frustration (not to mention the stress she detects in me) & expense in just a few years would have been far too much for our budget. It broke my heart and having people say stupid things like “ then don’t go south” frustrates me even more!! Why should I not be able to travel in my retirement with my pet bird like others do with their dogs & cats!! We are still only in our 60’s and plan on going down South for the winter for quite a few years yet.
I worked as a wildlife rehab volunteer in Florida I understand and have seen from those that have the experience in smuggling of exotics where they are coming from. BUT, my birds and those of others are Domestic raised & banded and are loving & in loving homes. They are our pets as are others dogs, cats, horses etc. Let’s work together to come up with a better solution to Traveling With Our Pets Birds!!!


My Traveling Nightmare Traveling between Canada & USA

I have owned several Parrots (that I hand raised myself) since 1989 most of which I had to give up to other homes because of moving to small quarters, but was able to keep my lovely Goffin Cockatoo, Peaches. After moving back to Canada (of which at that time I only needed a health certificate to get her over the border to the Canadian side), I prepared to visit my Daughter in Georgia. I had Peaches into the vets for a certificate, packed the camper and headed for Fort Erie border crossing. When I got there, the customs officer said I couldn’t cross there with her (no vet) but to go to the next crossing up. OK, I went to the rainbow bridge told them I had a bird and needed to declare her on their side of the border before crossing. (This was so they knew I had crossed with a bird when I came back and wasn’t smuggling her). They told me I had to go to the next crossing, which is Lewiston. Once there, I went inside on the American side of the border and they proceeded to tell me I needed special paperwork from our side of the border in order to cross with a parrot, other than just a vet certificate. So I turned around and headed for our border crossing and at Customs they gave me paperwork claiming I owned the bird and it was out of Canada. Back I go to the American side and proceeded to get a hassle from U.S. Fish & Game Officer, over my crossing with my Parrot!! They were actually going to confiscate her. Needless to say, I was VERY UPSET!! I called my lawyer (whom I worked for at the time) & she told me to calm down and she spoke with the Fish & Game official for me. They let me turn around and I ended up trying to find a friend to take care of my Cockatoo till I got back from Georgia. This was the first time I’d ever heard about CITIES!! I wasn’t a member of a club, nor did my Vet tell me about the CITIES Law (although he knew I was going over the border with her & he was an Avian Vet!). I had to give up my bird because I traveled to the US to visit quite often and had no idea how to get over the border with a pet bird. After this happened to me I had joined Durham Aviculture Society, was President for a year and on the board for 3 years. I learned more from others about CITIES.