Tuesday, June 27, 2017

American Coot

The American coot is found in much of Canada to northern South America. It lives in the Pacific and southwestern U.S. and Mexico year-round. 
These coots appear to have a band around the lower part of the bill. 
It has a short white bill and white frontal shield which usually has a reddish-brown spot near the top of the bill between the eyes. It has red eyes and white under the tail. 
The red eyes and reddish-brown spot between the eyes are very visible. 
White under the tail.
They have broad, lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back to facilitate walking on dry land. 
The bizarre looking feet are visible on this diving coot. 
They eat primarily algae and other aquatic plants. 
Munching on plants. The reddish-brown spot between the eyes is visible.
The chicks have orange-tipped ornamental plumes covering the front half of their body. Studies have shown that coot mothers will preferentially feed the chicks with the brightest plume feathers. This is a characteristic known as chick ornaments. The colorful feathers bleach out after about six days. 
A young coot with the colorful "chick ornament" plumage. 
I found these coots at Quitobaquito Spring in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, very near the Mexico border. 
I like the reflection in these photos. 
I visited Quitobaquito Spring in late July again and found the coots. A number of men clearing out reeds, trying to prevent them from taking over the pond. The coots were on that end near the reeds and I think that is probably where they nest. The young one lost its chick ornament plumage. 


  1. Those feet look like a visit to the podiatrist is overdue.

  2. A bizarre bird--a bit like some old coots I know.