All About Shipping & Receiving Quail,
Pheasants, Ducks & Other Gamebirds
with Melissa Yell
(Editor's note: Melissa Yell is an award winning writer and photographer who has contributed many articles and photographs to the Game Bird Gazette magazine. This article provides beginners with some basic information on shipping birds through the post office. You'll find news and information on how to breed, market and shipping quail, pheasant, ducks, and other game birds from leading game bird farms in every issue of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. Be sure to also visit our new page on shipping doves and pigeons. Bookmark this page and check back often for updates. When linking to our website, please use www.gamebird.com
At the present time the most convenient method of shipping game bird birds (quail, pheasant, peacocks, partridges, ducks, geese & swans, etc.) is through the mail. You don't even have to leave your home -- your mail carrier can often bring birds right to your door!
Many buyers prefer to pick up their birds from their local post office to get them to their new homes as quickly as possible. In my case, however, I am unable to get to the post office because of my home day care. Our mail carrier brings my orders of eggs, chicks, and breeders to the door and even stops to chat about my latest interesting order.
There are added charges for postage and box fees, but compared to the cost of travel, shipping birds through the post office is often comparable or even less expensive. The same is true of my game bird supplies that I usually order through the mail, such as nylon netting, medications, incubators, and other items not available on my weekly errand route.
Specially designed boxes approved by the postal system for bird shipping are used for mailing game birds. A advertiser in the Game Bird Gazette is Horizon Micro-Environment's Bird N.E.S.T.'s (1-800-443-2498). The acronym N.E.S.T. stands for Natural Environmentally-Secure Transporters. Horizon Micro-Environments has an outstanding line of approved shipping containers for quail, pheasants, partridges, pigeons, doves, ducks, geese, swans, etc. The shipping containers available from Horizon Micro-Environments are attractive, have an excellent design, and are the most popular containers used by game bird breeders.
Game bird shipping requires filtered, biologically-secure shipping containers. These containers are designed to protect birds from conditions such as the birds sitting next to yours on the plane, the plane's cargo by from diseases and viruses, postal machines and scales, and the postal workers themselves from contagious diseases carried by sick birds in transit.
Horizon's Single N.E.S.T. is designed for a single birds or pair of small birds up to a total of seven pounds. Their Mini N.E.S.T. is made primarily for shipping perching birds and is equipped with perches and feed cups and can hold up to ten pounds. The very popular Economy N.E.S.T. is commonly called the four-bird box. Omni N.E.S.T. is often used for shipping eight birds and can be arranged to have one to four compartments and can accommodate a total weight of 22 pounds. The Large N.E.S.T. is made of heavier cardboard and is designed for shipping large birds such as swans or geese.
A list of "do's and don'ts" is provided by Horizon with their literature to help all shipping experiences to be positive ones. Their list of things to do includes feeding and watering birds prior to shipment. It is important to include a source of moisture in the box to prevent dehydration. Some breeders use chunks of cucumber. Birds should be introduced to the source of moisture several days prior to shipping if it is a new food item. Litter or bedding needs to be placed in the bottom of the box to collect moisture, reduce odors, and provide a foot hold. Many bird shippers use a good quality alfalfa hay for this.
Inform the recipient of the expected delivery time and give them the shipping tracking number so that they will be able to unpack and care for the birds as quickly as possible. Check weather conditions in your area and at the destination to insure that they will not pose threat to your birds or cause a shipping delay.
Contact your carrier and request a delivery schedule that will minimize transit time and ensure delivery on a business day. Birds allowed to eat during the day and shipped in the evening can rest enroute, and awaken in their new surroundings. This minimizes hunger, dehydration, and stress. Direct flights provide the shortest overall shipping time.
Write the shipping address and phone number on the box in case the label comes off (continued on next page).