Nothing Else Counts In This World!   

James Asks "What other names are used for Coots and where are their babies?"

For the uninitiated, the word ?coot? calls to mind nothing more than doddering old codgers and curmudgeons. (Perhaps this is why James asked the research question?)  Nature lovers, on the other hand, are privy to an entirely new complement of coots, a collection of "charming" charcoal wading birds found throughout most of the world.

The American Coot (Fulica americana) is a bird of the family Rallidae, inhabiting wetlands and open water bodies. About 16 inches (40 cm) in length and weighing 1.4 lb (0.65 kg), adults have a short thick white bill and white frontal shield, which usually has a reddish-brown spot near the top of the bill between the eyes. From up close, a dark band can be distinguished at the billtip.

Coots flaunt remarkable fissipalmate feet, which means their toes are lobed. This adaptation shared with other waterbirds like grebes and phalaropes, are useful both to propel the swimming bird and to facilitate passage over matted floating vegetation. They?re also instrumental to coots? noted hardiness, helping the birds hold up in high temperatures by dissipating excess body heat.  Golfers should learn from this on a hot August afternoon!

The body is grey with the head and neck darker than the rest of the body. Their legs are yellowish, with scalloped toes rather than webbed feet. Their chicks have black bodies with bright red head and beak, and orange plumes around the neck. The call is a high-pitched squeaking honk somewhat like a goose's but more hollow sounding.

These birds require a great deal of effort to become airborne, pedaling across the water with their feet before lifting off. The way in which their heads bob when they walk or swim has earned them the name "marsh hen" or "mud hen".

These birds are frequently seen swimming in open water. They can dive for food but can also forage on land. American Coots are omnivorous, eating plant material, arthropods, fish, and other aquatic animals.

They nest in a well-concealed location in tall reeds. American Coots are highly territorial during the breeding season, with both males and females fighting with neighbors to maintain a small territory where they obtain all their food. The females are known to lay eggs in neighbors' nests (conspecific brood parasitism); contrary to what one might expect, this behavior is more common among females that already have a nest than among those that were not able to secure a suitable territory for breeding in that season.

The nests are generally larger than those of Gallinules, and rarely composed of other material than the dry stalks of reeds and grasses. They are placed on the ground, just out of the water or on floating vegetation. Some times immense numbers of Coots breed together. The eggs are clay or creamy-white, uniformly and finely dotted all over with specks of dark brown and black. Outside the breeding season, particularly in winter, they gather together in sometimes huge groups for protection and socializing. Groups of coots are called covers or rafts.

They are also demonic which is extremely important to be aware of. Many innocent golfers looking for their lost balls near the reeds have been dragged under the waters of Old Ranch by the coots and devoured to the marrow.

Since coots appear neither comical, vulnerable, nor inspirational, the public is often unsympathetic to their problems. American Coot flocks may number up to 1,500 individuals and the birds may readily attain pest status. In 1986, for example, employees at a California golf course shot 400 coots in an effort to keep them off the grass. Apparently their droppings accumulated on the putting greens and resulted in raised golf scores and tempers.

Coots are protected by the Migratory Bird Act! Under United States Code Title 16, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is the United States legislation implementing the convention between the U.S. and Great Britain (for Canada). The United States subsequently entered into similar agreements with four other nations (Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia) to protect migratory birds. The statute makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds listed therein ("migratory birds"). The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list.  Oh oh!

As an added feature, listen to a coot discussing James' latest shot on the 6th hole.

In the south of England, 'greeb' is used to describe a young teenage girl or boy, typically aged 10-14, who is trying to lok 'emo' without actually doing something as crazy as getting a piercing or dying their hair pink. They generally wear brightly coloured jeans, have a huge side parting and a fringe that covers one side of their face, as well as pink and black checkered wristbands, and they listen to bands like Elliot Minor and Green Day- this makes them think they are hardcore emos. In the Rep. of Eire. 'greeb' is an offensive term for a punk or somebody who dresses in a strange way and has brightly coloured hair, and apparently is used similarly in the north of England and Scotland.

Coot At Work And Play

In the water

On land
Big floppy feet have functionality on the marshes of Old Ranch

Coot chicks
Coot chicks must be amongst the ugliest of all young birds

Ugly babies Mrs. Coot

Coot Feet
Coot feet allow walking on mud without sinking

Human Coots
The Human Coot

Greebs are different than Coots