Saturday, February 16, 2008

Coot toes

American coots have remarkable feet. In fact, they’re famous for their toes. The one problem is that you really never get to see them. The charcoal gray birds keep them rather demurely tucked away under the water. Unlike other waterfowl, their feet are not webbed but somewhat scalloped. A coot’s individual toes have lobes, much like a leaf. This aids their swimming and gives them rather fancy flattened phalanges. Artist Vickie Henderson and I discovered a coot standing on a half submerged log. It was as if it were showing off its special feet. Wouldn’t you? Luckily, we both had our cameras.

A small flock of coots, called a cover, has spent the winter on Mead’s Quarry Lake at Ijams Nature Center. Although most of the time, they have kept their toes modestly well hidden.

Photo by Stephen Lyn Bales. Please visit:

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