Catch of the Day – The Coot’s Photogenic Feet

American coots are one of the most common waterbirds I see. I rarely photograph them, partly because they are so common and partly because they are not generally photogenic. Their dark gray and black overall color often registers as a featureless black silhouette on the camera. Their red eyes and white beak also are difficult to capture adequately in most light.

But what is cool about coots is their unusually large and lobed feet. You don’t often see their feet because coots are found mostly in water or mucky mud. However, they do at times walk, feed and rest on land; as a matter of fact, the lobed design is better for land travel than the webbed feet of ducks and geese. Grebes also have lobed toes but of a different design.

I look for opportunities to photograph their pale green/gray, scaly, oversized feet. Here are two photos. Next time you see an American Coot, look for a glimpse of a foot!

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