Sunday September 25, 2005

Don't call me AFLAK!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Emerging from the house the other morning I encounter a puddle of watery shit on the sidewalk large enough to warrant a lifeguard. This can mean one of two things: canvassing politicians, or muscovy ducks. Insofar as there’s no impending election, I figure it’s the ducks.

Everybody in south Florida knows about muscovy ducks.
With their distended asses, greasy-looking feathers, and hideously mottled bare-red faces, their eerie resemblance to victims of radiation poisoning is unsettling. The males, which can grow to 15 pounds, emit a hissing noise when confronted, and while they can actually fly, it’s with all the grace of Rosie O’Donnell skateboarding.

But it’s their tendency to shit all over creation that is most irritating. Traveling in packs of 3 or 4, they slowly waddle down the sidewalk, shit pouring from their feathered butts every step of the way. Green, milky, and semi-solid—imagine a bowl of mildewed grits—it’s a source of salmonella and E-Coli bacteria, as well as a revolting and slippery obstacle to put a bare foot into.

I’m told that Caribbean people eat these things. When I mentioned this to a Bahamian acquaintance, he stared at me in horror. “Dat duck dere?!” he asked, pointing in disbelief.

Even though they’re non-native to south Florida, it’s illegal to slaughter them, presumably for the same reason that you can’t kill tourists, even in season. You can chase them, as I have, waving a baseball bat and screaming epithets, when I found them eating from the food bowls I leave for the cats (and merrily shitting all over the carport). But that bends the animal lovers out of shape, and frankly, the ducks don’t seem to really care: they shoot me a dirty look, waggle their tail feathers..and shit.

I thought about putting poison out, but that might end up inside some neighborhood kid, and I’d have a lot of explaining to do to its parents. Besides, with my luck, the damn duck would drop dead somewhere I can’t reach it, and rot. I hate it when that happens.

If they were bums—oh, I’m sorry, “residentially-challenged persons”—I could call the city and have them removed. If they were dogs, cats, or alligators, I summon animal control. But this feathered pestilence? Is there such a thing as DuckBusters?

[See all Articles by Steve]

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