The American Coot, dwarfed by a juvenile Mute Swan in both perspective and actuality, is a Prospect Park regular, but never in very large numbers. There were several on the Lake last week, and a surprising dozen plus at the Boat House. Although duck-like, Coots (Fulica americana) are actually Gruiformes, or rails (I saw their cousins the Common Gallinule in St. John). The most notable distinction, besides the very un-duck-like bill, is that they don’t have webbed feet. Their toes are lobed, which helps them move through the water. And they do come ashore, so you can see these interesting toes.

4 Responses to “Coot”

  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog February 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Coots are such amusing birds to watch – very confident and quite bold, unlike some of their relatives. And they walk on water! In fact, I think they (or a close relative) are sometimes called “Jesus birds.” To get airborne, they use those crazy feet to paddle across the water quite a ways. I see coots wherever I go from NYC parks to the Pacific Northwest to a park with no water anywhere nearby in the middle of Indianapolis! That first picture is terrific, Matthew.

    • 2 mthew February 16, 2012 at 9:45 am

      Thanks, Melissa.

      Coots can also be surprisingly loud.

      The Jesus Birds are the jacanas; there are some 80 species of them, tropical critters. The only one in the U.S. is the Northern Jacana, which sometimes gets into southern Texas. The very long toes of these birds give them the walking on water appearance, allowing them to walk on dense water vegetation, lily pads, etc.

  2. 3 Paul Lamb February 17, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Did you ask the birds to pose for you like that?

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