In last weekend’s rainstorm this American Coot demonstrated the ability to grab quick bites under adverse circumstances. The low tide exposed an abundance of seaweed, one of this bird’s favorite eats, but getting to it with the surf bouncing up and down required speed, confidence, and an intimate knowledge of the habitat. No Manhattan commuter ever grabbed a faster lunch at rush hour than this bird.
One of the coots — maybe this one, maybe not — is a year-round resident of the park waters. It now has lots of company, with a dozen or more migrant coots visiting, most of them hanging around the northeast corner of the park, near the Open Circle Viewpoint or on the north side. They breed mostly in the Prairie Pothole region and in lower central Canada. They’re not great fliers, but they manage the thousand-mile trip nevertheless. They’re talented on and under the water; they’re great divers, grabbing mostly greens but also the occasional protein down to about 15 feet. And, as bears repeating, they’re not ducks, they’re rails.