By Bob Huber: Local Columnist
You hear it every spring — “The kites are coming! The kites are coming.”
Mothers shield their kids, bikers don helmets — Imagine that! — and police warn citizens to stay off the streets and listen to disaster radio.
Behind all the screaming, yelping, baseless accusations and the wanton abuse of the American way of life is the fact that birds called Mississippi kites are back in New Mexico. And with them comes a hostile warning — “Break out your hard hat and hang a tennis racket low on your hip!”
That’s because Mississippi kites, next to agents for the IRS, are sworn enemies of mankind, even womankind, and a few childrenkind too.
Kites have decals on their tail feathers that say, “No Fear!” They don’t like anybody very much.
Scientifically, Mississippi kites are members of the hawk family Milvinae, a sub-family of Falconide, and are characterized by graceful glides and nasty attitudes. They build nests where no decent falcon has gone before, in trees on college campuses.
The reason they pick college settings is that students aimlessly walk around with baleful eyes turned to the ground, their thoughts on esoteric subjects like pizza and beer. They are traditional targets for these sneaky, feathered terrorists.
OK, I’ve warned you before and I’ll warn you again. Not that you’ll heed, but these nasty birds are dangerous to your health and may result in headache, dry mouth, nervous jitters, nightmares, and wet pants.
Ask your doctor about kites.
Meanwhile, talk to anyone in these parts and you’ll hear frightening tales of kite attacks in broad daylight. Incidentally, these stories are currently being compiled into a rollicking TV mini-series, soon to be seen on the USA Channel in an attempt to replace “Walker, Texas Ranger” with more family-oriented fare.
Instead of Walker beating up people and appearing unshaved, the script goes like this:
Doctor: “Did you get the license number?”
Patient: “No, but I think it was a Toyota with wings.”
Doctor: “Oh? The kites must be back. You know, rednecks with tiny Confederate flags dangling from their ear lobes and baseball caps worn backwards.”
Oh sure, you think I’m exaggerating, but in Roswell, Mississippi kites have even been mistaken for local aliens from outer space. One old theater building has been converted into a museum showing a bird flaked out on an operating table with hovering military doctors performing a secret autopsy. Yuk! (kites have a tendency to crash in Roswell due to shotgunus terminae, a rare tropical disease.)
But kites have no fear of homosapiens. They mark off a no-man’s land, and if you step on their territory, they think you’re just a large mouse with bad breath.
Take your average target. She’s a college co-ed named Brittany Crotchmire on her way to basket weaving class, humming a sour note as she stumbles along, her eyes on the ground, unaware that a kite — let’s call him Captain Kirk — is adjusting his sites.
“Hmmm, wind from the south at 13 miles an hour, humidity 47 percent, focus at 60 yards. Better calculate in a little Kentucky windage too. What do you think, Mr. Spock?”
Kirk is experienced. He has decals of college students on his feathered fuselage. He flashes down out of the sun and WHAM!
“Eeeaaaugh! Eeeaaaugh!” Brittany cries. (Kirk loves to hear his victims scream.)
Still, I’m the first to admit that Kirk and his feathered ilk have a good side. They keep bugs, rodents, and college professors indoors where they belong.
Kites first visited New Mexico in the l950s. It is assumed someone paid them to rid the land of all varmints, and I don’t blame them. Have you scrutinized a cicada up close? Or a college professor?
Whatever, they’re here and I also assume we’ll soon be celebrating Mississippi Kite Day memorialized by the New Mexico Legislature in their heady deliberations. Schools and banks will close, parades will sprout, and there’ll be dancing in the streets.
Yes, you hear it every spring: “The kites are coming! The kites are coming!” Which shows once and for all that God has a marvelous sense of humor.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.