Spoonbills are Pretty

So pretty, in fact, I have one mounted in my kitchen.

In my last post, I explained why I typically decline to shoot mergansers. I hope I did not give you the impression that I do not respect the mergie, lest you think me a duck snob. No, I love all waterfowl, from king canvasback to the lowly coot. Not to sound like a mother consoling her daughter at home on prom night, but I believe all ducks are beautiful in their own way. In fact, some people consider one of my favorites—the Northern shoveler—a “mud duck” that isn’t worth eating or hunting.

They seem to take greatest issue with how shovelers taste, when in fact spoonbills that have fed on rice can be quite good. Sure, they often feed on invertebrates that can give them a gamey flavor, but a little garlic and butter is the perfect complement to even the sourest of fowl.

The key reason I like spoonbills is they’re just so damn pretty. I love them for their iridescent black/green heads against their white breasts; their large, bright green speculums; and their sky blue shoulder patches that are every bit as gorgeous as those on bluewing teal.

I’ve admired them for a long time, but, since I hunt the Atlantic Flyway, my gunning opportunities have been limited. So, you can imagine my excitement on a recent hunt in North Dakota with Prairie Sky Outfitters when a large group of spoonbills buzzed our decoys. I picked out a drake, swung ahead of it and, to my elation and great surprise, I folded it.

“I’m going to mount that drake!” I blurted out without much thought.

The others laughed. I think they thought I was joking about mounting a bird that one hunter present described as “the clown of the duck world.” As I write this, however, I’m looking up at the spoonbill that now hangs on a wall in my kitchen. Its location is due in part to the fact I’ve run out of space for taxidermy in my tiny apartment outside D.C., but also because the spoonbill deserves prominent placement. A place where it can be revered.

And, as a hunter posed to me on twitter while discussing the subject, “What better place than the kitchen to hang a bird with a dining utensil for a bill?”

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