American Coots Take Off

by Larry Jordan on December 11, 2012

American Coots (Fulica americana) photos by Larry Jordan

American Coots (Fulica americana) are members of the rail family. They have to run or spatter across the water with wings flapping just to get airborne (click on photos for full sized images).

American Coots Spattering

They are actually a rather handsome bird with a black head blending into slate gray upper parts. All this contrasting with a white bill and red eyes.

American Coot

Although their chicks look a bit different 😉

American Coot

American Coots feed mostly on aquatic plants but are very well adapted to feeding on dry land as well.

American Coots

They can often be found foraging on greens near the water’s edge

American Coot

What makes them so adept at feeding on either dry or mushy marsh land and also gives them the ability to run laboriously on top of the water to take flight? It’s their laterally lobed toes.

American Coot Feet

Just look at the size of those feet compared to their body size.

American Coot

American Coot

Coots are a rather wide-spread wetland bird.

American Coot Range Map

What’s not to love about them?

American Coot

They’re antics are fun to watch. Check out this video I took at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge of what could be a younger Coot trying to imitate a diving duck!

 I think the American Coot deserves a little more respect!

American Coot

To see more great birds, check out The Bird D’pot and Wild Bird Wednesday!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

TexWisGirl December 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm

you showed them at their best – and a bit of their clumsiness, too. but those poor chicks… 🙂


Ingrid December 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Larry, I’m a real sucker for these guys and their massive, lobed toes. I enjoy watching them both visually and for the interesting behavior they exhibit … which you document so well in these photos.


Arija December 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Your coots look like fun, especially the chick that is doing a fair imitation of an emu. Gotta love the post Larry.


Mick December 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

The Coots running across the water are really special. Interesting comparing your Coots with the ones out here – F. atra.


Stewart M December 12, 2012 at 1:52 am

If these are anything like the coots I know, they have more anger per gram than any other bird I know. Watching them in the spring is like watching gladiators!

cheers and thinks for linking to WBW.

Stewart M – Melbourne

PS: how are you finding the new lens?


Boom & Gary December 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

Great series!! Love the action shots. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Larry December 12, 2012 at 6:56 am

@Stewart I love the new lens! I purchased a 1.7 teleconverter and a Jobu tripod head for it and it is giving me much more crisp images and photo opportunities 😀

Thanks for hosting WBW!


ken schneider December 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Nice images– quite a collection of coots!


Wally December 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

Larry, great post! I wouldn’t know how to act if I visited a lake around here and didn’t here coots cackling and see them running across the water.
Very nice image quality!


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