Photos by Greg Clark, June 2005, Sierra Valley, California
The American Coot is a member of the rail family of birds. Unlike the other rails, coots are not secretive. They swim out in the open and form winter flocks that can be quite large. Swimming along and clucking some annoyance when people are around, the American Coot is a very handsome bird. The baby birds begin swimming with the adults very early, as this very young bird is doing here. The adult is offering plant food to the baby which has completely different plumage than the adults.
Junior takes off with breakfast.
The nest is built on dried marsh vegetation that sometimes is floating on the water and attached to the surrounding marsh. Well hidden from predators on the marsh side, the nest can only be seen from above or from the entrance to the water. The two baby birds have practically no wing structure yet, but that doesn't keep them from swimming with their proud parents and learning about how to find food.
Copyright Greg Clark, 2005