A man has been arrested after trying to smuggle 34 live finches hidden in plastic hair curlers on a flight from Guyana.
Francis Gurahoo had the birds hidden in his hand luggage when he was pulled over by customs officials at JFK Airport on Sunday.
The 39-year-old was planning to sell the animals to be used in lucrative bird-singing competitions in New York City.
Court documents state Gurahoo, of Connecticut, admitted “he had intended to smuggle the birds inside of his carry-on luggage” to be sold for approximately $3,000 each (£2,400) – a total of around $102,000 (£81,500).
Guyanese finches, which are said the have better signing voices than their US relatives, are used for bird-singing competitions in Brooklyn and Queens.
“In such contests, often conducted in public areas like parks, two finches sing and a judge selects the bird determined to have the best voice,” court documents said.
A bird’s value can rise to around $5,000 (£4,000) if it is crowned a champion.
US Customs and Border Protection said it seized approximately 200 finches in airports across the US in 2018.
In December, a passenger was arrested flying into New York from Guyana with 70 live birds in a carry-on bag, also hidden inside hair rollers.