Coots are dark slate gray waterbirds with a chicken-like white bill with a black mark near tip. They swim and dive or tip down for the vegetative matter they eat. See this video shot with my little Canon Powershot A620 camera. The coots bob and swirl, reminding me of the water insects, Whirligig Beetles.
To play the video click on the arrow.
One thing that struck us was how frequently we saw large groups of coots tightly huddled together. We came around a corner and saw this huge mass which looked like black and white confetti from a distance.
They were huddled closer than passengers on the Boston subway at rush hour. From our bird behavior studies we knew one of the reasons birds flock tightly was when a predator was nearby,
and we looked up just in time to see a Bald Eagle swoop down and pick up a coot.
Here's a closer look. Coots don't have webbed feet but slightly lobbed toes, visible on the coot the Eagle is carrying. So there maybe safety in numbers...up to a point.
Coming tomorrow, the ducks and Scrub Jays of Merritt Island.
Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007