Thursday, February 12, 2015


Walking carefully across the wrack line down at the Bay I had the opportunity to watch a pair of coots working across soft muck in search of yummies. I've always admired their patience and persistence on cold winter days as they forage in places most other creatures avoid. They can do this because they have enormous feet. Not webbed feet, mind you - enormous lobed feet.

Coots in boots!

This pair have been calling the cove at Swan Harbor in Havre de Grace, Maryland, home all winter and may be the same pair I've watched in winter's past. They don't seem interested at all in the larger rafts of coots that occasionally come through. Their little conversational chuckles and whines remind me of my Rhode Island Reds at home. They are always commenting on this and that. But when an eagle flies over they'll quickly move into woody cover and float semi-submerged until the hunter has passed.

A continuous conversation between them.

In order to take off from water, the coot has to get a running start. A long running start. That's an easy target for an eagle! Better to sink out of sight or hide in the marsh or against a woody shore.  To forage in muck or across lotus and lily pads, the coot steps out with feet almost as broad as her underside, lobes spread flat like snowshoes. She looks totally out of scale with her tiny head, plump little body, and enormous feet!

Coots in a spring raft.

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count and since I spend more time at Swan Harbor than I seem to spend at home, I'll do a Monday backyard count here as well as at home. I hope this pair of coots-in-big-boots are around to make the list!

The Great Backyard Bird Count!
Join in the fun this weekend! Will a Coot-in-Big-Boots make your list?

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