Coots, young and old…

As promised, here’s a short story from Saturday that got bumped from my earlier reports, first by the fledging storks, and then by the fox. These are two very fresh coot chicks, maybe just a day or two old, judging by their size and their bright red hairdo, and probably a second brood for the summer. Well, today’s their day.


As I mentioned earlier this summer, when I first saw the spectacle, studies suggest that coot chicks have bright red head feathers “to get more food out of the parents.”


Anyway, when I arrived at the bridge under which the parents had assembled their floating nest, it must have been nearing nap time because the two chicks and one parent headed right towards it, even though it was also towards me, and it certainly provided no more protection or cover than they already had. I very much doubt that they just didn’t see me, but instead, they just didn’t care.

Anyway, here’s a good chance to compare the size of the tiny chicks to the size of their parents clownishly-large and colorfully-striped feet. (Remind you of anybody, Deb and Sue?)


As the chicks made their way up the nest to some spot which seemed no dryer or more secure than any other, the parent had some preening to attend to first.


Everyone’s getting close now, and one chick seems to have had just about enough of all the scratching with that thing.


There we are, just one more scratch, and then everyone settles down.


I don’t have that last picture, for some inexplicable reason, but I can leave you with this shot from earlier that morning of another parent feeding a slightly older chick, who has lost most of its red feathers.


A fun thing about coots here, at least for me, is that they are nearly ubiquitous, similar to mallards, Canada geese, or even robins back home. If there is some standing water, and there’s at least one bird in it, as in the canals all through town and the countryside, you can pretty safely bet that it’s a coot. And not to knock ducks or geese, but an additional nice feature of coots is that they pretty much ignore people, stick to the water, and simply go about their business. They do make noise, as necessary, but I never hear them calling before dawn, so even a cranky old coot like John Gurda would approve.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

3 thoughts on “Coots, young and old…

  1. Ha ha ha. Great episode, Andy. The close ups of the coots are amazing, and that’s a pretty good jab at John. lol.

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