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Big booby: “Norman” poised to ride epic misadventures to fame

Norman the red footed booby’s transatlantic misadventures read like a Greek epic.

First, the young bird is blown off-course in a storm and washes up on a beach thousands of miles away from home. He’s nursed back to health in the UK and months later makes a triumphant homecoming on a British Airways jet, complete with his own film crew.

You can’t make this stuff up.

His transatlantic misadventures are already the stuff of legend. Now, Norman the red footed booby is poised for international super-stardom.

“We’ve had lots of rehabbed birds, all kinds of birds of prey and seabirds and even tiny warblers, but nobody’s had this kind of media attention before,” said wildlife biologist Geddes Hislop. “I don’t think it’s going to his head yet, but he does have personality. He’s a, he’s kind of aloof.”


Mr. Hislop told Cayman 27 Norman is taking his new-found fame in stride while he’s working to build back his strength at the Cayman Turtle Centre.

“In the UK they were hand feeding him, which is good because they can actually monitor how much he eats, but that’s not good for a bird that’s going back into the wild,” said Mr. Hislop.

After 30 days in quarantine, Norman is expected to join the red footed booby colony on Little Cayman, where Mr. Hislop expects him to fit right in.

“I don’t think he’ll have much of a problem, because it’s a big colony, I sure all the birds have their own territory, but it wouldn’t be unusual for other boobies to join in with a flock,” he said.

While Norman is quite possibly the world’s most famous red footed booby, certain facets of his personal life remain shrouded in mystery.

“They haven’t figured out if he’s a male or a female yet, if he or she is a male or female yet, and there’s no way to tell with boobies apart from DNA sexing,” explained Mr. Hislop.

Only time will tell if the androgynous red footed booby is a Norman or a Norma.

“Apparently the males and females look-alike until somebody lays an egg,” said Mr. Hislop.

The Department of Environment told Cayman 27 it’s likely Norman is native to the Little Cayman colony, but can’t be 100% certain.

Norman’s fame will continue to grow in the new year. His epic journey will be featured next month on BBC one’s “The one show.”

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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