Red Eyes, Black Feathers and Funny Feet

An Adult American Coot

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The beak has a white shield growing up from the beak and at the top there is a red spot in the adults.

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The feet are rather unique for water fowl because they are not webbed. The coot splays them for walking and standing and puts the toes together when swimming. They feed on aquatic plants, either dabbing on the surface of the water, or diving down to pull up the plants. Out of the water you can see that their body looks rather chicken like, round and plump. That is to help them keep afloat. The disadvantage to this is that it’s quite difficult to get airborne. As a result they have to run across the water for several yards all the while beating their wings before they can actually get in the air. I have not yet seen this, but I hope to at some point, as the sight must be quite remarkable. And because of their fat and plump body, when they dive underwater to get food, they look rather like a bobbing cork, which is quite hilarious!

For more photos, sounds and information about the American Coot, visit this page of The Cornell Lab, All About Birds , and the Audubon’s webpage Better Know a Bird: the American Coot and It’s Wonderfully Weird Feet.

The American Coot
Red eyes, black feathers and funny feet,
And a white shield growing up from my beak.
Tipped at the top with a funny red spot
That makes me unique along with my bright yellow feet.
I’m a Coot, don’t you see, why just look at me.
I’m a handsome odd fellow with my feet dressed in yellow.
So go on yonder to the websites and ponder.
You’ll learn a lot about my bright red spot.
It’s quite a show, just think what you’ll know!

(Not poetry, but at least it rhymes, hopefully providing some amusement.)

Posted for Granny Shot It Bird of the Day, BOTD.

Beauty and Isolation

Maria, at CitySonnet, has two challenges for March 19th: Sapphire and Cheerful. Her March challenges were planned and written, of course, before the world had changed with COVID 19. The sky in this photo is indeed sapphire, and the tree busting into bloom would normally be cheerful. Indeed, this photo has a serene feel to it, almost as if the streets were emptied just for the shoot, and the four pedestrians were perfectly placed and clothed. There also seems to be the proper placement of red – the stop signs and two out of four shirts on the people. The sunlight is even hitting the westward face of the tallest building.

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But this photo was taken yesterday at 5:34 pm. The street should be bustling with people going home or to Whole Foods, and walking their dogs or pushing strollers for a last outing before dinner. The curbs should be lined with parked cars and the parking lot beyond the stop sign on the lower left should be full.

We here in the San Francisco Bay Area are in “Shelter in Place” mode (more on that later), which isn’t a full lockdown, but we are to go out only for necessities such as groceries, necessary doctor’s appointments, or letting our dogs tend to business, and we should not linger.

This isn’t easy, but each day as I walk outside, the beauty of spring causes me to draw in a deep breath, relax my shoulders, and appreciate what we have. Thank goodness I’m not going out in the pouring rain, for instance!

And in case you are wondering why I have so many pictures of this tree and these buildings, it’s because I pass them every day in my walk with the dogs. It’s the prettiest route for our short outing.

Please take care, everyone.