Prior to departure – ALWAYS count your crates!

We are taking 20 GOWE and 12 MAFD back to AZA zoos in the US mainland.  Their journey is long and we will be there to help them and monitor them the entire way.

We finally are able to book a flight for the birds and us to get to Guam.  We work with Star Marianas Airlines and they help us charter a small twin engine plane for us.  It seats up to 10 people – or 8 crates of birds and 3 people (plus the pilot and co-pilot).

Our plane awaits - with the crates being loading in.
Our plane awaits – with the crates being loading in.
Roomy interior with all window seats!
Roomy interior with all window seats!

So far there seems to be one flaw in the plan for departure:

Tapah might just interfere.
Tapah might interfere.



We wake up on departure day and it is a rainy cloudy mess.  It seems none of us bothered to check the weather.  Her name is Tapah and she is a Tropical Storm that is headed our way.  We go ahead and plan for departure.  Luckily the storm is far enough away and Guam is close enough that we can go ahead and leave.

Our stormy departure!
Our stormy departure!

We fly to Guam in about 1 hour.  The flight was not bad, but we did have to brace the crates well so that they would not move during flight.  Luckily my feet (clad in lovely purple flip flops) did the job and held the crates firmly in place.  The birds even started to sing mid-flight.

At least my pedicure held up!
At least my pedicure held up!

When we land in Guam, before we can even stick our heads out of the airplane, we have to wait for the Customs and USDA officials.  The plane and all of its cargo (including us) have to be checked for Brown Tree snakes.  Luckily, they know we have the birds with us – so it is not a very long wait.

Waiting for inspection
Waiting for inspection

The Customs agent speeds us through the hidden underbelly of the airport (where I am not sure I was supposed to take pictures?) and approves our and more importantly the birds’ entry into Guam.

Customs Officer helping us move the birds
Customs Officer helping us move the birds
Can I take Pictures here?
Can I take Pictures here?


The dark underbelly of the airport (or the elevator to customs)
The dark underbelly of the airport (or the elevator to customs)



We are met by the employees of the Guam Rail lab – they will allow us to keep the birds there overnight. The Rail Lab is where the good folks of Guam work with the endangered Guam Rail  as well as the Micronesian Kingfisher.  They have a great set-up that works well for our bird’s overnight stay.

We feed the birds an early evening snack and then leave them to rest while we get an early evening dinner and to our hotel room for the night.

The birds have to be back at the airport for their flight at 3 AM.  This means we have to feed them around 2 AM.

It is 2 AM - I am sleepy and so are the MAFD.
It is 2 AM – I am sleepy and so are the MAFD.

Burly eyed- we arrive at the Rail lab and feed the doves and GOWE.  We get everyone packed up in the car and leave the keys to the building in the kitchen.  Walking out to the car it appears we have plenty of time to get the birds safely to the airport.  Peter is dropping the birds off, so it allows Ellen and I to go to our hotel and clean up before our 24 + hours of travel that we have in front of us.

But – it is not that straight-forward.  As we are getting all of our luggage together, we get a phone call from Peter.  There are 7 crates of birds at the airport….. BUT we have EIGHT! Crates….

In the packing of the car, we all forgot the first rule of shipping birds – count your crates before you lock the door.  As Ellen and I nervously wait at the hotel for Peter, we contemplate whether or not we can break into the Rail Lab – and what kind of punishment we would be willing to put up with to save our birds.  Luckily, Peter was able to contact a Rail Lab employee that was able to come unlock the building and thus preventing our journey into crime for the sake of our birds….

the forgotten crate - hiding in plane sight!
the forgotten crate – hiding in plain sight!

We got all the birds to the flight in time.  And they did great during the transportation – however, it took me a few hours to finally stop nervously shaking with worry about forgetting the crate.

Now I just have the 2 – 8 hour flights until I am back in Houston.

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