Migration of Anas Flexibilis


 “Look! Up in the sky!”

“It’s a plane!”

“It’s a bird!”

“Well, actually, I guess it is kind of a bird…sort of…”

“Yeah, I guess you could call it that…”

“…y’mean those things can actually FLY??”


Wait, no, no, don’t worry.  I didn’t mean that. You can get up now.  

While Olympians from around the world descend upon London for the greatest athletic competition in four years, Anas Flexibilis (common name: “rubber duck”) returns for its annual migration to the Sangamon River for the Second Annual Duck Race!

This week, I caught up with a few of the competitors training down by the River to get their thoughts on this years’ contest. I asked about their training regimen in preparation for the race, such as diet and exercise.

“We have a very strict diet before the race” said the first duck. Then the other quickly added “Yeah, mostly cheese and quackers!” “har har har quack quack har har!” they laughed. Guess I got a couple of wise ducks.

 “Dawn Duck, our duck trainer, wakes us up pretty early every morning,” the first duck explained. Then the other quickly added “Yeah, we like to say we’re up every day at the quack of Dawn!” “har har quack quack har har har”

I asked their opinion about Michael Phelps’ record gold medals in Olympic swimming and suggested they’d have some tough going if he were on the Sangamon on race day. “Him, he’s a duffer!” “Look at what he was up against! Did you see any of these webbed feet on any of them?”

I commented, “Well actually, looking at you, I don’t see any…” then the first duck interjected “Hey, Bub, watch what you say about feet around us.” The other added “We’re pretty sensitive on that subject.”

This particular sub species of Anas Flexibilis does have a very distinct look. Bright yellow, long curly eyelashes, blue eyes, and beautiful red lips. I asked one of the lady ducks “Where did you get that pretty red lipstick?” She told me she had gotten it at the Mahomet IGA during a duck sponsorship event. “If you don’t mind my asking, how much did you pay? I might like to pick some up for my wife.” I inquired.

“Oh, I don’t know how much it cost,” she replied “they just put it on my bill.” “har har quack quack har har har!”

“Do you ducks ever take anything seriously?”

“Sure,” said the first duck “y’know, we’re all aware that we’re pretty gorgeous, but once we had this really horribly ugly duck.”  “Yeah, I remember, she was so ugly we kicked her right off the river!” “Yeah but turns out she was just one o’them swans trying to infiltrate our ranks.” “Now she just thinks she’s so much more beautiful than the rest of us.” “Sheesh!”

There are some fabulous prizes this year for anyone who sponsors a duck. One of the ducks said “I’m thinking of getting in on the action myself, but I’m holding out for second prize, the bright yellow kayak from the USRC.”

The other duck added “Now that would be going down the river in style! Did you check out the plumage on that thing!?”

“That reminds me, did you hear the one about the duck who had a quack in his kayak?” I told him no, I hadn’t.  “Yeah, it started to sink and he nearly drowned” he said. “That’s terrible. That’s not funny at all” I replied. Then the other duck added “It’s OK, he was fine in the end, he patched it right up with his duck tape!” “har har quack quack har har har” And they all had another good laugh at my expense.  

They start the race from the iron bridge over the Sangamon near downtown Mahomet, so I asked “That drop looks pretty dangerous, especially with some of the exposed rocks below and likely shallow water. Will you guys have medical professionals standing by?”

“Why yes, we always do.” “We don’t go anywhere without Doc Duck!”

Finally seeing an opportunity to get in my own humorous wise ’quack’, I wryly observed “Hey, I guess he’s a real quack, right guys?” But then the first duck indignantly replied “Hey, how dare you insult our medical professionals, Bub!”

“Oh, sorry guys, I didn’t mean to imply…”

“Now, Citizen Columnists, that’s a whole ‘nother story.”  “Yeah, no sense of humor at all.”

I thought I’d try another attempt at duck humor, so I asked “Hey, (heh heh), I’ve got a good question for you guys. The Sangamon River has a lot of low hanging tree branches.  What do you intend to do when you come upon one? Huh? Huh?”

The first duck just stared back at me blankly, “Um, lower my head down a bit like anyone else. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I guess duck humor isn’t really my calling.” I lamented.

“Har har quack quack har har har, humor isn’t his ‘calling’ get it?” the first duck laughed “That’s a good one! Har har quack quack quack” added the second.

“Yeah, well I’ve had just about enough of your wise quacks.” 

“har har quack quack another good one!”

In any event, if you note the sky over Mahomet turning bright yellow someday soon, be not alarmed, and don’t “duck”, it’s just the annual migration of Anas Flexibilis to our area. Just get yourself down to the Mahomet IGA, Barber Park, or online at mahometrecreation.com or sponsor a duck anytime before the race during Riverfest to get in on the action for this year’s Second Annual Duck Race!

And watch out for those low hanging tree branches.

Appeared as Notes from the River, Mahomet Citizen, August 9, 2012, by Scott Hays

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