American Coots on a cold winter day

American Coot's large lobed feet

 American Coot’s large lobed feet – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I am unable to pass up opportunities to photograph American Coots, they aren’t as majestic as raptors, they aren’t as cute as hummingbirds and they certainly aren’t as colorful as Cardinals, Tanagers or birds from the parrot family but they are great subjects. I believe every bird is a worthy subject.

Looking at the huge lobed feet of American Coots is enough to make me laugh. Yesterday I just could not resist these birds.

American Coot shaking off

 American Coot shaking off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

With every click of my shutter I am improving my skills as a photographer, I learn more about the subject and become closer to the natural world. Even when I mess up a shot I am learning.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy challenges and American Coots are definitely a challenge to photograph with their dark plumage and ivory-colored bills. Getting the right light and exposure is critical for bringing out the details in the plumage without blowing out the whites of the bill. Add snow-covered ice on a pond and that increases the difficulty.

This Coot makes me think of the popular game “Angry Birds” because it does look grumpy. I’ve never played the game, I have only seen the ads for it and the cartoonish “Angry Birds”.

American Coot walking on snow-covered ice

 American Coot walking on snow-covered ice – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

Yes, I am addicted to bird photography but I am equally addicted to the birds themselves because each one is different and holds its own beauty.


PS: My day started off at 7F yesterday and at the time this post is being published it is currently 6F!

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Pingback: Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron – A Winter Treat

  2. hummingbirdlover

    Hi! Yes they are funny feet and that bird really looks mad. ha ha Keep up the great shots!

  3. These made me laugh, Mia. What goofy, but super cool, birds. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wonderful anecdotes of this bird in the winter!

  5. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    Dear Mia, Another wonderful bird for my cartoon! I would have never have understood all the wonderful things in this bird without your photography. I certainly never realized the size of their feet! The middle shot doesn’t make me think he’s angry… it looks more to me like he’s learning to dance???? Bubble dancing in the sea???? So many thanks I can’t count them. Your shots help us to upon up our minds to the wonders of wildlife.

  6. Mia:
    Coots get no respect! I enjoy watching and photographing them, but I seldom get good looks at the lobed toes which your wonderful photos show so well.

  7. I’ve rarely seen their feet cuz they are always in the water.
    Great shots, Mia! We like the Coots too.

  8. They sure have some big feet! Seeing the Coot on ice is a nice difference from the Coots here!!

  9. They are as cute as the European Coots, ours has huge feet as well. Lovely photos.

  10. I love these shots, because the coot and its crazy feet are out of the water. There’s a nice contrast with the bird against the ice, too.

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