Goonies on Guam

gooneybirdRon Coffey has a couple of pieces about the Island of Guam on his blog this morning. I’ve never been to Guam but I am aware of the brown tree snake problem. When I was in the Navy I was stationed with a sailor who had once been stationed on Guam. The tree snakes hadn’t made their appearance yet but the place was polluted with a type of albatross known as the gooney bird.

If I remember correctly the gooney bird was wired to build its nest in the same location time after time. Before Guam became a major military base and huge airfields built, this was not a problem. But when the US military moved in and built airfields on top of gooney bird nesting sites all hell broke out. For years now the military has waged war with the nesting birds interfering with their flight plans.

My shipmate loved to tell stories about these problems and about the bizarre mannerisms of the gooney birds. Being a large bird they are extremely graceful in flight but their take offs and landings are less than smooth. To get airborne requires a long run into the wind with their huge wings flapping. Coming in for a landing is the roughest part. They apparently can’t control their bulk and hit the deck rather hard and at full tumble and roll.

I don’t know what today’s sailors on Guam do for entertainment but I have heard old-time salts beg to be taken off the island because there was nothing to do but watch the birds do their peculiar dance. I’m guessing the behavior is part of their mating ritual and I’ve found a short YouTube video of two goonies doing their dance of love.

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