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Submitted on
November 15, 2012
Image Size
278 KB
Submitted with


74 (who?)

Camera Data

Canon EOS 7D
Shutter Speed
1/790 second
Focal Length
400 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Oct 12, 2012, 3:26:03 PM
Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 Windows
Sensor Size
American Coot by Ryser915 American Coot by Ryser915
The American Coot may look duck like, but it is not related to ducks at all. This species dives almost exclusively for aquatic plants, and is often the victim of thievery from Wigeons and other ducks upon surfacing. The coot's flight is awkward and comical, and they often squabble amongst themselves, making this species amusing to watch. American Coots are likely one of the most difficult species in North American to properly expose, as its bill is gleaming white while its head often looks completely black. Low light is key with this species, and this individual was swmming around in nice evening light, with bright fall colors reflected on the water.

Jamaica Pond
Boston, Massachusetts

October 12, 2010
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swashbuckler Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Very nicely done.  And thank you for the comments about shooting these guys - many species offer unique challenges.
missfortune11 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
nice light here
reiney Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2013
that's a weird lookin thing! lol. beaks too small for it's head, poor guy.
lovely shot though! <3
Namisao Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Really nice photo =D
squidsticks Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice detailed shot of a common bird. I like photos that show an animal you might see often, but make you look more closely at it. Great work!
BrookeMyslajek Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
What is the difference between a loon and a coot?
bonefish Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
One more thing to add. Here are some nice comparison shots of a loon leg versus a coot leg:

Loon: [link]
Coot: [link]
BrookeMyslajek Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Wow! Thank you! Used to live in Minnesota so I thought that was a loon at first honestly
bonefish Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Quite welcome! Very cool that you got to see loons regularly. Most of my life I've lived in areas too far south of their range to see them with any frequency; only ever spotted a few at a distance while doing fieldwork in New England. They're gorgeous birds!
bonefish Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hopefully *Ryser915 won't mind if I jump in to field this question!

Loons and coots aren't closely related, though they do share similar lifestyles as waterbirds and look rather alike with their snappy black-and-white plumage. They belong to different orders of birds: loons are assigned to their own order, Gaviiformes, whereas coots are in order Gruiformes, which is a diverse group including cranes, rakes, and rails.

Beyond the commonality of an aquatic lifestyle, they have some pretty major physical and behavioral differences. Loons are arguably more aquatic than coots, having completely webbed feet and legs set so far back on their bodies that they consequently can't walk well on land. These webbed toes and back-set legs make loons excellent divers, and loon diets tends to be carnivorous/piscivorous (lots of fish and aquatic invertebrates). In contrast, coots have longer legs without webbing between the toes, allowing them to be more mobile on land; with their long toes, they can walk pretty proficiently across the muck and mire of a wetland area. Though coots can and do dive below the water's surface to forage, they're nowhere near loon-tier in terms of dive ability and maximum depth. Their diet is a bit more varied than a loon's, too, including more plant matter.

When it comes to trying to ID those two species at it distance, it's worth noting that coots tend to sit high up in the water whereas loons have a very low profile. Loons also have more pointed, slender bills with a slightly upturned profile.

Hope that helps answer your question!
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