Deciding a “rare bird” of a case, a federal appeals court last week upheld the unusual conviction of an “enigmatic and colorful” exotic bird collector for illegally importing black sparrowhawks from South Africa.

Thomas W. Cullen of Goshen, N.Y., was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail under the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992, 16 U.S.C. �4901 et. seq. His case may have been the first criminal prosecution ever under the act.