American Coot, Chandler AZ

Pity the American Coot: It’s light on beauty in almost every category.

Its name is commonly used to derogate geezers, as in, “You old coot.”

It squawks rather than sings.

Its head is, well, a little less ugly than its feet, which are, frankly, kinda creepy.

American Coot with foot held up out of the water.

Even the Cornell Ornithology Lab, which has a thing about birds, has trouble finding something nice to say.

The waterborne American Coot is one good reminder that not everything that floats is a duck. A close look at a coot—that small head, those scrawny legs—reveals a different kind of bird entirely.

But seen close-up and in the right light, its iridescent feathers are fabulous.

Standing on right foot; wings spread, from side.
Hokey-pokey move


Standing on left foot; wings spread, from side.
Yoga pose


Wings spread, from back.
A big caboose


Wings spread to form a bustle.
Built-in bustle



  1. Jim Robertson

    I certainly agree re the vultures and maribou stork. Although the maribou stork when riding the wind is a very picturesque sight (but that’s because you can’t see it up close).
    I’d say the same thing for the Australian ibis, not unattractive from a distance…..

    Nice study of a coot Isabel. I was taken aback when I first saw a pair of coot legs too ☺

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