American Coot, Fulica americana


American Coot
The familiar "mudhen" is actually a photographic challenge -- it's hard to retain detail in both the black feathers and the white bill. Sort of like a wedding, where the photographer must capture the white-clad bride and black-clad groom in the same image. The bird gains some glamor when it swims through a reflection of Fall foliage.


American Coot


American Coot


American Coot
A coot flying as they often do, just above the water. They require a long run-up over the water to get airborne, during which they run while  beating their wings, as they also do during their "splattering" fights, see below.


American Coots
Birds of North America Online describes "splattering" as a specific form of agonistic interaction in which "coot runs over water toward its opponent with wings flapping while maintaining [head lowered] posture.... Pursued bird usually flees in like manner but with head elevated..." Coots on Arastradero Lake were vigorously engaging in this activity on March 12, probably in connection with pairing and/or the establishment of nests, which are floating platforms usually sheltered by reeds or other vegetation, see below.

American Coot

American Coots
Baby coots: Cute? Hideous? Both?


American Coot


American Coot


American Coot
American Coots, both in June of their first year: above, still with the wiry feathers, yellow bill, and dark brown eyes of a chick; below, further along in development, with full juvenal plumage, and the orange eyes and light gray bill with red spot that go with it.


American Coot