Around 8:30 tonight, a group of concerned white senior citizens will alight delicately on an overlarge stage in Las Vegas and make a case for why they should be allowed to roost in the White House. The following is a field guide to help the amateur naturalist politics-watcher identify the non-Hillary Clintons you might spy in the underbrush.
Please note that none of the following are currently in season and hunting will be strictly forbidden.
Habitat: Immature Sanderses could once be spotted on the streets of Brooklyn; the mature Sanders can be found roosting in the forests or whatever they have up there of Vermont.
Identifying Marks: Crested white plumage, perpetually pointing phalanges.
Tracks: The delicate imprint of a bagel dipped in maple syrup, tracked across the undergrowth.
Prime Sighting Seasons: Visible year-round since 1981.
Strengths: Moral high ground, surprising agility.
Natural Predators and Weaknesses: Clinton operatives filming his speeches for gaffes, impertinent questions about his hair, Black Lives Matter protesters forcing him to confront the whiteness of his voter base.
Habitat: O’Malley was born in the swamp of Washington D.C., before sensibly migrating to more hospitable lowlands of a governor’s office in Maryland.
Identifying Marks: Thousands of white teeth, impeccable tie knot.
Mating Call: ... is surprisingly effective, actually.
Tracks: Strings of wholesome-looking Catholic offspring trailing behind him.
Prime Sighting Seasons: Anywhere near a podium, also occasionally seen in stained glass windows.
Strengths: Ability to improvise, albeit mostly on that guitar.
Natural Predators and Weaknesses: Extremely overheated metaphors.
Habitat: Virginia, we think?
Mating Call: [Absolute silence]
Tracks: Very well-hidden.
Prime Sighting Seasons: Never, apparently.
Strengths: Excellent at concealment, occasional and surprisingly heated exchanges with George W. Bushes.
Natural Predators and Weaknesses: Any other candidate poses a threat. Literally, any one of them. Just pick one.
Habitat: The probably-mythical elfin land of Rhode Island.
Identifying Marks: Distinctive center-parted plumage.
Mating Call: Unplaceable accent, repeated lengthy explanations about why he was previously a Republican.
Tracks: Weaving gracefully from the GOP to Independent to Democrat.
Prime Sighting Seasons: Democratic primaries and then never again, tbh.
Strengths: Able—or perhaps forced— to drive himself to campaign events.
Natural Predators and Weaknesses: Invisibility. : \
Anderson Cooper: Magnificent white crest, piercing blue facial markings, feathers significantly less rumpled and better-fitting than anyone else you’re likely to spot tonight.
Concerned mom who begins question with “As a mom,” engaged young immigrant just trying to stay in the country and finish her education, white man who doesn’t have a question, per se, but more a series of statements: Sure to be spotted in any debate environment.
Microphone: The bulbous object your wildlife will be clustered around, hooting desperately for airtime.
A turkey roosting in a tree. All photos via AP Images