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. Photographing American Coots on a cold winter day walking on snow and ice was fun and challenging.

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!


  1. hummingbirdlover January 8, 2013 at 8:54 am

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

  2. Tami January 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

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

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Coots make me laugh too Tami, they are kind of goofy looking. Thanks for commenting.

  3. M. Firpi January 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Wonderful anecdotes of this bird in the winter!

  4. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 5, 2013 at 11:49 am

    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.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you Merrill, these Coots would be perfect for a cartoon, they have interesting features and personality too!

  5. Dave Sparks January 5, 2013 at 9:20 am

    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.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      I agree Dave, and they deserve more respect! I love those big feet they have! Thanks for your comment.

  6. judy watson January 5, 2013 at 8:10 am

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

  7. Tammy Karr January 5, 2013 at 8:03 am

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

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      They do have big feet, imagine if our were as big in proportion as the Coots feet, we’d never be able to drive because our feet wouldn’t fit in the car!

  8. Bob Bushell January 5, 2013 at 7:52 am

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

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      I love your European Coots too Bob, I find both species interesting and fun to photograph.

  9. Scott (@NESASK) January 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

    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.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Scott, they do have crazy looking feet, don’t they? Thanks for your comment.

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