MIAMI (WSVN) - The endangered parrots were smuggled into the United States through Miami as eggs, but now they have safely found a new nesting place on the West Coast.

More than two dozen parrots are now hidden in the hills near San Diego, under the watchful eye of a guard tortoise named Jean-Louis.

The parrots are mostly critically endangered yellow-naped Amazons from Central America.

“Maybe 4,000 of these birds left in the wild, at best,” said Brooke Durham.

Durham and her team from the nonprofit SoCal Parrot, are taking care of the birds. At only two weeks old, the parrots have already had a difficult life as they were poached from their nests as eggs to be trafficked.

They were carried into Miami International Airport in a temperature-controlled, refrigerated bag, but one of the eggs happened to hatch right before the smuggler went through customs.

“One of the customs agents, heard the little parrot cheeping sounds that were coming out of the thing and asked to see inside it,” said Durham.

The eggs were confiscated, then later on hatched at a sanctuary in Florida but they couldn’t care for the birds long-term.

A total of $25,000 was raised to charter a plane to fly them to San Diego and that cost was just the beginning.

The parrots go through a staggering amount of fresh fruit each day costing anywhere from $700 to $800 weekly.

Not to mention the physical cost.

The volunteers’ hands and arms are covered in scratches from the parrot’s tiny toenails as they are hand-fed to bring up their strength.

Durham and her team said it’s all worth it.

They hope that in a few years, this flock could be the first ever rescued from smugglers to be returned to their native home but even if it never happens, Durham knows most smuggled birds aren’t as lucky as these.

The smuggler pled guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in August.

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