It’s not often you see a coot on dry land and this fella appears oddly disproportionate as it is standing at the waters edge at the Hawrelak park pond. Coots look quite craceful when chugging through the water this one is more plump-looking, chicken-like with a too small head, or too chunky body. It was a balmy end-of-the-summer day and the coot and its nearby chicks looked quite comfortable just hanging out on the well-manicured lawn. Coots do migrate a south in the winter, but tend not to go far south. It seems that they are just flying far enough to avoid the coldest of the deep freeze. The coot may be an accomplished swimmer and diver, but it is an awkward and clumsy flier often requiring long running takeoffs across the waster surface. It sort of makes sense that it would keep its winter migration short.
Coots are cute and unmistakable, resembling plump aquatic chickens. This might explain why they are called poule d’eau in some parts of the world (which translates to water hen). This fella was chugging along like a little tug boat on one of the ponds at Heritage Wetland Park in Sherwood Park. It’s an American Coot and it is the only coot species that occurs in North America. This was my third coot species, with the previous two being the Red-gartered Coot and White-winged Coot, both observed in southern Chile. There are ten species of coots in the world, of which six live in South America. The six South American coots tend to be distributed on the western side of the continent, down south along the eastern part of South America and across Patagonia. The one common locality where all the six South American coots co-occur is Chile. So as far as I am concerned, here is yet one more good reason to go back to South America and Chile in particular, to top up my coot list.