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PHOTO: Lahaina Maui’s Iconic Bird Stand in 1992

For decades now, visitors to Lahaina, Maui have had a unique opportunity to take a uniquely cheesy photo at an iconic Lahaina institution: the Bird Stand on Front Street.

With the recent wildfires that devastated Lahaina, Hawaii, and destroyed a reported 70% of the town, we’ve been looking back in our archive to find photos that capture the past of this beautiful city.

The Bird Stand

Of course, we couldn’t miss the Front Street bird stand! In this 1992 archive photo, you can see the Bird Stand in action. 

According to a 2012 article in the Lahaina News, the bird stand has provided a funny photo op for decades.

The stand consisted of a perch in front of the Pioneer Inn on Front Street with several colorful parrots. A handler would man the perch, offering visitors a chance to take a photo with the birds.

Apparently, the long-time bird stand operators had a whole routine that would delight their customers. This involved the birds “preening” customers’ hair to get the ideal shot.

Mid-shot of a scarlet macaw and blue-and-yellow macaw (family Psittacidae) on a wooden perch, with a man in a pith helmet at right and bystanders in the background, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, 1992. From the Wendy Morgan Collection via Bay Area Telegraph.

Not Just for Socials

The idea of a Bird Stand offering amusing photos feels like something designed for the Instagram and social media era.

But as our archival photo, taken in 1992, shows, the idea of taking a funny photo (or slide) to show to family and friends predates social media by a longshot.

In the photo, you can see the operator standing in front of the Bird Stand, with several tourists looking on. The iconic latticework of the Pioneer Inn is visible in the background. Tragically, it was destroyed in the recent wildfires.

A souvenir stand door covered in postcards is also visible in the photo.

Our Bird Stand shot captures the fact that Lahaina has always been a town with a lot of fun and an aloha spirit at its heart. Where else can you stop on the street to get a photo or a bird combing your hair?

No word on whether the Bird Stand, which was still operating as of the fires, will reopen again. Our thoughts are with everyone in Lahaina as they begin efforts to recover and rebuild.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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