April Fool’s in Avian Form

American Coots are just plain goofy. They swim and feed like ducks, and yet, they are a rail (that’s right I said it). Coots, actually, look a lot like a chicken,a frickin’ swimming chicken with a large white bill. They have lobate feet, which means that each toe has lobes of skin surrounding the digit, which function the same as the webbed feet of a duck.  Coots are lazy, or are they smart? Either way, they steal most of their meals, usually from ducks that have done all of the work of diving to the bottom, plucking the nutritious aquatic vegetation, and bringing to the surface. All of this strangeness is wrapped into one loud, raucous package. The perfect of April Fool.

Synchronized preening

Synchronized preening

Trying to look stately

Trying to look stately

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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1 Comment


I have a non-birding friend who calls them “I’m a ducks” because I explained this to her one time that they want to be ducks but they’re not ducks. So they follow all the other ducks around, barging into flotillas and generally being the kid on the play ground no one wants to play with. All the while bobbing their heads as if they think hard enough: “I’m a duck. I’m a duck. I’m a duck.” It’ll become true one day. Like the Little Train Engine That Could. 🙂


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