Posted by: Ali Davis | October 11, 2010

The Last, Haunting Cries of the Crested Filth Loon

Environmentalists and journalists have been converging on our nation’s most fetid swamps lately, hoping to be lucky – or unlucky – enough to capture the final flailings of a dying species.

Crested filth loons were not always confined to our nation’s foulest backwaters. At one time they roamed freely, swooping from coast to coast in great flocks as they dropped rancid, volleyball-sized masses of guano across the Great Plains and flapped waves of dander and stench that, legends say, could make mighty redwoods snap in two.

Crested filth loons shook lice-infested feathers across the Rocky Mountains, hacked balls of green, oozing phlegm into the Gulf of Mexico, and re-painted the Painted Desert with a horrific mating ritual known only as “assdraggery”.

Indeed, the filth loon was once so populous that it was considered a normal, everpresent part of our country’s fauna. Its sheer numbers and capacity for mimicry often allowed it to join other flocks.

The filth loon, much like the cuckoo, lived by destroying its new flock from within. If another bird challenged its presence, the loon would hiss insidiously while hidden in the middle of the flock. The other birds, frightened of unknown predators and desperate to preserve their own spots within the pecking order, would join in the hissing, eager to prove themselves a part of the bigger, safer, winning side.

Yet worse was the filth loon’s behavior when directly threatened: It would rise to its full height, puff up its crest, emit a series of ear-splitting shrieks, and then whirl at a cyclonic speed, lashing out wildly with its beak and claws and simultaneously vomiting and spewing excrement in every possible direction.

Predators and competitors alike knew that the filth loon would not go down without taking as many as it could with it.

Thus, a bird trying to protect her young from the filth loon might find herself pushed out of the flock herself.

And thus, for centuries, filth loons went largely unchallenged.

The species was so successful that at the turn of the century the Audubon Society opined that it was a very rare bird who wasn’t at least part loon.

So what happened to this once-dominant species?

Many of them successfully interbred with their adoptive flocks. Their young, occupied with the positive and far more interesting pursuits of being a pelican, crow, eagle, or chickadee, stopped being such big loons. Now the recessive loony traits only pop up once in a generation or three.

Many of the crested filth loons stopped seeing the benefit in spreading filth and evolved on their own.

And as the Twentieth Century wore on, thousands upon thousands of them simply aged and died, to statements of general approval from Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

A few have always remained, tucked away in the stagnant bogs and reeking caves that few other life forms cared to visit. Cross-species encounters were rare, and both sides liked it that way.

But now the crested filth loon is truly facing extinction. The last few representatives of the species know it, and they are making a final, desperate bid to survive.

They have emerged from their caves and stagnant backwaters, screeching at full volume in the pathetic hope of proving to each other – and the rest of us – that they still have the numbers to rule the land.

Perhaps they are trying, in their own nauseating way, to find mates.

But most of them know the battle is lost. The end is near. And they cannot help but go flapping into their familiar death ritual, as disgusting and invasive as it always was. We hear their squawks and are hit in the face with their foul discharge nearly every day lately.

Clean it off, stand tall, and shout them back to their caves.

The crested filth loons are dying out.

Good.

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