Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, August 23, 1999

Maybe this booby
isn’t a bird-brain

A booby from Hawaii lived up to its name last week when the nitwit bird started following a private yacht north and ended up in Alaska.

Wildlife officials said the bird was a red-footed booby, but more likely it was red-faced after its trip.

Boobies like to hang around boats in Hawaii because that's where the fishing action is. But this particular yacht proved to be a booby trap. Once the bird started following it, it couldn't stop. (You know the state's economy is really bad when the wildlife begins to leave town.)

According to news reports, the bird was finally brought on board after fighting a storm for eight days. He was handed over to wildlife authorities in Kodiak, Alaska, where he was treated for hypothermia, homesickness and embarrassment.

Just to slip in one more booby-related pun, I guess you could say the bird won a booby prize when Hawaiian Airlines agreed to fly the bird back to Hawaii.

I was there when the booby got home and got this exclusive interview:

Me: How was your flight?

Booby: Horrible. They ran out of fish so I had to have the lasagna. And the movie was "The Birds," which I've always thought was an unfair characterization of birds generally, although the special affects were pretty good considering the technology of the time.

Me: How'd you find Alaska?

Booby: I just woke up and there it was.

Me: No, did you enjoy it?

Booby: It was the coldest place I've ever been. Spent the whole time under a heat lamp like one of those chickens you see at Safeway. They've got some hearty birds up there, boy.

Me: What made you follow that boat, anyway?

Booby: Well, you know, I've always had a wild feather up my beak. I'm a ramblin' kind of bird. Been to all the islands. Tried to follow Didi Ah Yo to Vegas once but she gave me the slip at the airport. So I see this yacht leaving the Ala Wai, just like at the beginning of "Gilligan's Island," which, by the way, was a very bird-sensitive show. I start following this boat and the people on board are coaxing me along, throwing me bread chunks and stuff. And before I knew it we were way the hell out there. I was stuffed with bread. My wings hurt. This big storm comes along and tosses me every which way, like in "The Caine Mutiny." Now THAT movie had some fine work by a couple of albatrosses and a particularly good diving scene with a petrel.

Me: What are your plans now?

Booby: Rest up for a few days. See some friends. Do a little fishing.

Me: No more traveling?

Booby: Well, you know me. Travel's in my blood. But I think I'll head south next time. Did the cold weather thing. That ice and snow stuff is for the birds, man. Penguins, I think they're called. Listen, I've got to fly. Got a conference call with my agent.

Me: Agent?

Booby: Sure. This Alaska story is hot. My agent thinks we can get six figures for the movie rights. Kind of Jonathan Livingston Seagull meets Jack London kind of deal. But I'm going to keep creative control. Birds have got to quit letting Hollywood stereotype us seed-peckin' bird-brains.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to or

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