A solid bird's nest bust.
A solid bird’s nest bust. U.S. Customs/Public Domain

From the I-Didn’t-Know-That-Was-Illegal File comes news that customs agents at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport recently intercepted a stash of contraband birds’ nests.

According to a press release issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 63 pieces of illicit nest were discovered in a couple of jars hidden among an unidentified passenger’s personal items. Arrayed like a captured kilo of cocaine in a press photo, the crusty bits of birds’ nest almost look like they might be some kind of weird drug. But they’re actually highly valued as a culinary ingredient.

The nests, made by small birds known as swiftlets, are used to make bird’s nest soup, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Made of solidified bird saliva, the nests are high in nutritional value and extremely expensive. But they also carry the risk of spreading diseases such as Avian Flu, and thus are prohibited from entering the United States.

The passenger, who was coming from Vietnam, was fined $300 dollars for failure to declare the nests, and they were subsequently destroyed. No soup for you.