40 Years and Still Going!

Water Birds

The Most Plentiful Water Bird

I was out brushing the blind this past season and the following occurred to me……..

Ok …. duck populations are up. This is good news. But if duck populations are up, then it stands to reason that other migratory water birds are also experiencing an increase in population. This may be bad news.

Teal, mallards, widgeon, pintails, shovelers, scaup, golden eyes, redheads, canvasbacks, Canadas, snows, cranes, snipe, and others, can all be hunted and harvested this season. The largest number of migratory water birds, however, is the only species that cannot be legally hunted: water-turkeys!!

During the fall and into winter ….. hundreds of thousands of cormorants swarm Lake Bistineau. Flying overhead and in the distance, flying in every direction and even into each other. They gather in large groups and feed on fish while floating across the lake, all the while, making the most grotesque sounds. They roost in the tops of the nearby cypress trees. Which I believe are being slowly killed by the amount of excrement that these birds pour over the trees each day. I mean … just look at the cypress trees, they are dead and/or dying from the top down.

These birds have no social redeeming value, all they do is eat tons of fish and kill cypress trees each day. They are long crook-necked, creepy, alien-looking birds. They stare at everything through their blank, prehistoric eyes and then attempt to cover everything they fly over with poo. Those that cannot manage a stream of poo as they fly past, seem to be able to vomit instead.

When in the blind duck hunting, this becomes a living hell. Poo splatters intermittently down from the sky as they fly over. We spend more time dodging the air-borne poo-bombs than we do looking for ducks.

Sometimes a well aimed stream of falling poo catches you off guard and it hits your back, across your cap, splatters your gun, etc. Now I can handle the rain, but when the weather forecast calls for scattered showers of water-turkey excrement, I’d rather stay under a roof.

This past season, while looking at the sky filled with these worthless creatures, I wondered at what point a locust storm could do more damage than this hundred-thousand cormorant sanctuary called Lake Bistineau. My belief is that the overwhelming presence of cormorants has adversely affected the duck population. They not only destroy the duck habitat …. but I suspect that when the fish grow scarce, they will eat duck and maybe even young humans.

They are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, although their increased populations have resulted in property damage in the form of droppings, (which can destroy polyurethane roofing materials), dead cypress trees, and a much reduced fresh water fish population.

It is my hope that someday it will be deemed necessary and legal to load my shotgun along with every other waterfowler and bring these pre-historic looking creatures under control. In other words, kill the Son of a b_ _ _ _ _s. It wouldn’t be the same as the art of water fowling but almost as gratifying.

Well back to the task at hand. We have just finished brushing the blind, it blended in well with the surrounding landscape. I looked up and some 40 yards away a group of early season teal flew by.

While watching the teal, something in the distant sky caught my eye. It stood out distinctly, and I saw its dark wings began beating faster, its neck outstretched fully, this ominous, evil figure drew closer. It came bearing down on our newly brushed blind ….. yes, you guessed it. A water-turkey in August!!!!

I knew that there was little we could do. As it drew closer it took aim and “pow!” it laid a 10-foot stream of poo directly across the middle of the blind. I swear that the damn bird grinned!!

“Curse You ….. Red Baron!!!”

That was all I could think of.