Stewart’s post of the Dusky Moorhen and his questions about similarities of related species around the world, and Brian King’s post of his fishing Coot, prompted this entry for today’s post and link to Wild Bird Wednesday. (Just call me a “copy coot”.)
Continued thanks to Stewart for hosting this window into birding around the world!
Although the coot resembles a duck, it actually belongs to the same family group as the secretive rails and much larger cranes. They’re very common on most bodies of water in the U.S. and can often gather in large flocks numbering in the thousands. They feed primarily on vegetation with an occasional insect or small fish supplementing their diet. The coot builds hollow floating nests usually anchored to dense vegetation away from the shore and will often occupy nests built by other birds.
They are not very graceful when flying and require a lot of space for take-off. To help them “walk on water”, dive, swim and stand on soft mud or vegetation, the coot has very specialized feet. Each of the coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin which fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t interfere with walking on dry land, supports the bird’s weight on soft ground or vegetation and helps it swim.
Most American Coots have a small dark red patch (frontal shield) on their forehead just above the bill. Some males have a swollen white frontal shield instead of red, observed on birds mostly in the southern ranges.
They can be drab when compared to other, more colorful birds, but the coot is a unique water bird and can be really entertaining to observe.
See more birds from around the world at Paying ReadyAttention for