Somewhere between Texas and Alabama, something went very, very wrong for eight captive songbirds.
A salon owner in the tiny town of Grant, Alabama, ordered the canaries from Texas, she told AL.com – a birthday present to herself.
Rhonda King paid an extra $100 to ship them overnight. But her 60th birthday came and went Dec. 5. No birds, and none the next day.
Three days late, the letter carrier finally walked into her salon, she told AL.com.
“Your birds arrived,” she remembered him saying.
“They’re not alive.”
This was evident from the state of the package, King told the reporter: “I was handed this box with tire tracks on it and bird carnage hanging out.”
Before meeting disaster on the road, King said, the birds had been packaged with air holes in a federally compliant box.
In fact, the U.S. Postal Service has strict guidelines on mail-order animals – from songbirds to snakes.
Kittens, for example, are “not mailable” under USPS Publication 52, Section 525.
Neither are “poisonous insects and all spiders, except scorpions under limited circumstances.”
Day-old chickens, on the other hand, can be mailed.
If everything goes right, anyway.
It didn’t for a farmer in Mercer, Maine, who told the Morning Sentinel in 2014 that his order of 25 baby chicks arrived late and as dead as King’s canaries.
The owner of the hatchery that mailed the chicks told the outlet that 1 or 2 percent of its shipments die in transit – up to 26,000 dead chickens a year.
And a PETA case worker told the outlet that the group received thousands of reports of dead or suffering animals in transit.
King’s mess of songbirds seems to be a rare case, though. And the USPS tried to make amends.
The Postal Service followed up with a belated apology, per the Associated Press, and offered to reimburse the stylist.
The government couldn’t bring back her birds. Still, a faint hope remained.
King had ordered eight live canaries and received just six dead ones.
The Postal Service didn’t return a call from The Washington Post about what exactly befell the shipment – leaving open the possibility that two missing birds are brightening the skies over Alabama.