Friday, December 29, 2006

a good day for coots

The coots are members of the rail family and unlike ducks have lobed toes. I think that when they are walking around on land they look rather like kiwis in posture and stance. We counted about 4o that hang out for the winter in the shallow pond next to the boardwalk along the waterfront.

I read that the expression crazy as a coot comes from "... their method of taking flight. Because their wings are stubby, coots can't get aloft efficiently. So, like another similarly impaired bird called the booby, they run along the surface of the water, flapping and squawking and generally raising a ruckus long before they rise into the air. For short flights of 100 yards or so, they may not even get airborne. They just run across the water. Crazy? Not likely, but it sure looks that way. One thing is certain: Because coots are the most social members of the rail family, gathering in loose flocks, they warn one another about incoming predators—which means there are always likely to be a few old coots around." Source: Di Silvestro, Roger. National Wildlife Federation,"Animal Cliches".