Just ducky: A bird bracket buster

Birdwatching at Nestucca Bay NWR

Sporting their team colors are birders at Nestucca Bay NWR (Photo credit: USFWS Pacific)

The white-breasted nuthatch’s 12-vote margin over the peregrine falcon in Game 5 has the birding world ruffled today. Someone’s demanding a recount — an examination of Florida’s hanging chads. Someone else is flinging accusations that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “March Migration Madness” is somehow rigged. My, my! Do you think there’s no basis for these upsets? Take a look at Lehigh over Duke, you’ll get your answer.

This passionate rivalry is more exciting than the “real” March Madness, because in birding, everyone wins. How can you not be happy for the creeping nuthatch, dressed up in his mini-butler suit, hanging upside down for his bow? The peregrine falcon looked nifty in jumper suit and goggles, but you can’t fault science. I mean math.

I’m proudly 4 for 5 in my brackets, but today’s duel between two painted trollops, the wood duck and cedar waxwing, has me waffling. Adult daughter Cassy, who first added the CWW to her life list last December looking out my dining room window while she was Baby-sitting (pet cockatiel named Baby), is pressuring me to stick to my guns and the waxwing, as she waxes poetic about the bird she has picked to win it all. It didn’t choose me, I protest.

Wood Duck

Look! It’s a Wood Duck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then I look at this duck, all spit-shined, helmeted and ready for battle. I salivate. Sure, I didn’t originally have it winning Game 6, but can’t I change my mind? As the only poultry in the competition, it needs to carve out its own niche. Who would know if I just scribble out the waxwing and pencil in the wood duck? That, my friends, is a mighty fine duck. I still have the winner of Game 6 losing to the nuthatch in Round 2, anyway.

As of this writing, this flashy duck is sitting at 594 to the waxwing’s 844 points and could use a little goosing. Is it not impressive that these baby ducks can jump from their nesting cavity high up into a tree? That they live in trees at all. That they fought their way back from the brink of extinction in the late 19th/early 20th centuries after crazy hunters, coveting them for their home decor, tried to beat them down for good.

The cedar waxwing has enough fans. Am I lame or daffy for wanting to “slum it” in the scum with the duck?

Or desssssspicable for switching midstream. Oooh, got a little wet there. Ain’t called Mommy Tongue for nothin’.

As a decoy while I stall, here’s a photo my sister texted me on her road trip from Baltimore to Delaware yesterday. You know the old joke: Why did the peacock cross the road …? Not gonna vote until someone provides a punch line.

A wild peacock crossed my sister’s path, causing her to consider turning this year into her Big Year. (Maybe just a Big Day.)

Reminds me of my favorite Elephant Joke.

Q: “How do you get down from an elephant?”

A: “You don’t. You get down from a duck.”

Of course, the joke was on me, because when elephant jokes were in fashion, I was very young and laughed at them even if I didn’t get them. That was the point, right? Not to get them. So I used to picture someone climbing down from a ladder leaning against a duck. Isn’t that sad? Don’t you feel sorry for me … and my duckie?