Coots Escape to Shore

American Coots on on the shore of the North Basin

This morning following a day of rain I saw something I had not seen before:  Coots on land, eating the lush grass.  They looked a bit like chickens. 

I wondered whether they were driven to the relative peril of dry land by the incessant harassment and thievery of the American Wigeons in the water. The Wigeons, who can’t dive, make it their business to follow the Coots, who can dive, and snatch the greenery from their bills the instant the Coot surfaces.  This robbery goes on whenever the tide is too high for the Wigeons to feed themselves by dabbling, i.e. sticking their necks down to graze on the bottom. 

I’ve been astonished that the Coots put up with this abuse, and I’ve formed a rather low opinion of the Coot IQ as a result.  Now that I’ve seen them taking the risk of leaving their native environment to go on land, I’m revising my estimate upward.  


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