Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eurasian Coot and American Coot

We saw lots of Coots while in London last April: on the Hampton Court grounds, at Regents Park and St. James Park - the three areas where we saw the most birds. The Eurasian Coots are very similar to our American Coots. Coots are often mistaken as ducks, but they have more of a bill like a chicken than a duck, and do not have a duck's webbed feet. They possess lobed toes which are very long and used as a defense weapon.

Eurasian Coot, Hampton Court, London, UK; 4-5-10

Eurasian Coot, St. James Park, London; 4-8-10

As the photos suggest, the Eurasian Coot is a squat marsh bird found in slow moving fresh or coastal waters. They are all black with a white bill and frontal shield. Its eye-rings are red and legs are yellowish-gray. As I stated above, their toes are long and lobed, not webbed like other water fowl. Coots are very aggressive towards other water birds. They are common in Europe and if they appear at all in the Western Hemisphere it would be rare occurances in the islands off of Alaska or on the far Eastern coast of Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador.

American Coot, Saguaro Lake, Arizona; 12/26/08.
The American Coot (Above) is very similar to its Eurasian counterpart. Some of the differences appear in its bill and facial shield. The American Coot's upper facial shield often is red, but sometimes can be white or gray. The tip of its white bill has a dark ring.  When I visit Arizona in the Winter, Coots are anywhere there is water: large lakes, small ponds and even golf course water hazards (Below). The Coots I see in winter have gray legs, but when they are in their breeding plumage, the legs turn yellow. In summer they breed from throughout Canada to Northern Midwest and from upstate New York to the Northeastern states. In winter they will stay southward down the western and southwestren U.S.  In a rare sighting this past April, 2010, I spotted a Coot on our own lake in Rock Cut State Park near Rockford, IL (Bottom), probably on its migration northward.
American Coots on the ocotillo Golf Course, Phoenix, AZ; 12/29/09

American Coots taking flight; Phoenix, AZ; 12/29/09
A lone American Coot resting on Pierce Lake, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 4/18/10.

1 comment:

~Val said...

They sure are easy to spot, with their white bills.