Birds are popular pets. USDA defines pets as privately-owned companion animals not intended for research or resale. However, birds are not regulated as pets. They are considered poultry due to the possibility of carrying or transmitting diseases.
USDA quarantines and tests live birds imported into the U.S. to ensure they do not have diseases such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus or virulent Newcastle Disease. All imported live birds (except those from Canada) must spend 30 days at a USDA quarantine facility where they are tested for the avian influenza virus before entering the country. Returning U.S.-origin pet birds (except from Canada) are also tested and are home-quarantined. You must contact the USDA port veterinarian in advance to make a reservation at the chosen quarantine facility.
When buying a pet bird, request certification from the seller that the bird was legally imported or came from U.S. stock and was healthy prior to shipment. Many sought-after exotic birds come from other parts of the world. Because of the high prices associated with some of these breeds, smuggling has into the U.S. has become a profitable but dangerous practice. Birds that are smuggled into the U.S. are not quarantined or tested and can introduce diseases such as avian influenza and virulent Newcastle Disease.
New birds should be examined by a veterinarian and kept separate from other birds for at least 30 days. Additional information about importing and exporting live animals is available at the APHIS Import and Export center.
USDA recommends that owners of pet birds follow the same biosecurity guidelines as poultry owners. This ensures that everyone is working together to defend the health and safety of the nation’s birds. Basic biosecurity guidelines include:
More information about how to keep your birds healthy is available in the Biosecurity section.