Crime paralyzes the nation. The Minnesota economy sputters along. Our future roams the streets, spray-painting goofy symbols on each other’s very large, droopy pants. And the 2012 election looms ever closer, with polls clearly showing voters bitterly divided between Tea Party and Logic.
All of which has Americans asking the obvious question: “Sheesh, are there more ducks around than usual, or am I just going nuts?”
You are not going nuts. Well, at least not based on this duck thing. Now, just why your shoes keep making that incessant humming sound only you can hear—well, you’re on your own on that one, kiddo.
There are more ducks. So many ducks, in fact, that The New York Times produced a deep investigative probe of the duck issue. The newspaper’s motto: “All the News That’s Fit To Print—and This Very Long Story About Ducks.”
“Not in six decades has the United States witnessed such a spectacular migration of waterfowl as the one this year,” the story says. “Millions of ducks…have filled the skies of the midcontinent in a ‘grand passage,’ as wildlife biologists call it.”
So enormous are these flocks of ducks, according to leading experts, that in addition to the traditional V formation long favored, the creatures have been flying in E, H, and even the tricky Q formations.
In an unconfirmed sighting, Nebraska farmers claim to have seen a formation of perhaps 10,000 canvasbacks flying in quotation marks.
Similar sightings of mallards in ampersands and the percent sign were reported in Wisconsin.
Oddly enough, there were no newspaper reports of any of the foregoing, which I think would have made for some fine reading.
But it was reported that an estimated 83 million ducks made the trip south across the nation’s midsection this year.
Some waterfowl, however, flew east, west, and north, after making big, aimless circles in the sky while wearing ridiculous hats. (Beep! Beep! Beep! Caution: Punch Line Ahead!)
Wildlife biologists believe those would be the loons.
And if 83 million ducks eyeing our windshields wouldn’t be stressful enough, another thing that has made this year different is that most of the ducks departed the fall feeding grounds at the same time.
It was almost as if 48,000 men named Elmer wearing camouflage clothes and big boots were trying to kill the ducks with shotguns. This, as you know, is not the case at all.
Seven of the men were named Al.
Just kidding. It was the weather. This year, according to The New York Times, a sudden early-season cold wave froze the ponds of the prairie pothole region in the Dakotas (here the author is referring to East Dakota and West Dakota), North America’s “duck factory,” prompting most of them to leave en masse.
As you may recall, government officials briefly shut down the duck factory in August when a surprise inspection uncovered shoddy riveting practices in the Web Assembly Division. The company corrected the problem, and was given little more than a slap on the wing.
Sorry. Am I bad?
Anyway, the sudden increase in the number of ducks—while 83 million fly today, official 2009 estimates put the duck population at just 106, with 97 of them hanging by their feet in the windows of Chinese restaurants—is having an unprecedented impact on, well, something or other. That much is clear.
Basically, The New York Times story lost me at the point with phrases such as: “Legislation proposed by Republicans in Congress would cut back on federal programs responsible for the habitat restoration.”; “At the same time, some of the funds are being redirected from waterfowl habitat to other conservation objectives.”; and “Step One: Pluck the bird.”
Oops. Consider the source here, but that last one may have come from the copy of The Joy of Cooking I am presently holding.
Oh, grow up, for crying out loud. There are 83 million ducks.
Nobody’s gonna miss this one.
Bye for now.