An American Coot munching on food

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An American Coot munching on foodAn American Coot munching on food – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 320, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited

As winter makes its approach here in northern Utah I tend to get excited about the raptors I will see but I try not to forget the common birds I see almost every time I go shooting.  American Coots are common birds and some folks might find them fairly plain but I like them and enjoy photographing them too.

There is a pond near where I live that in the winter and early spring can be a great place to spend an hour or two photographing ducks, grackles, grebes, songbirds and the almost always present American Coots. As long as there is open water there will be birds at the pond. This American Coot image was taken during the winter of 2009, my first official winter as a resident on Utah at that pond. Because there are many fisherman and people who walk around the pond the birds are acclimated to human presence and will come close if you have the patience to wait for them.

Photographing coots is challenging because of the high contrast between their black plumage and that ivory white bill but I enjoy the challenges. I’m able to set my tripod down low at the pond and sit on the ground behind the camera to photograph them at the pond even when there is snow on the ground.

So go ahead Old Man Winter, bring it on! I’ll meet you at the pond to photograph these old coots. 🙂

Life is good.


  1. Jane Chesebrough November 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    These coots have so much character that I enjoy them a lot.

  2. Elephant's Child November 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Not comon over here. And very beautiful.
    And sadly Patty is right about the fate of all too many ‘common’ species. Except our own (yet).

  3. Dave Sparks November 15, 2014 at 10:06 am

    You nailed the exposure on this one. I enjoy photographing them too, but I tend to underexpose them because it is so easy to blow the whites and then end up not having much detail in the blacks.

  4. Patty Chadwick November 15, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Great portrait of one of my favorite water birds…they certainly are “common”…but, then, so was the passenger pidgeon once…

  5. Liz Cormack November 15, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Great clarity. I find them hard to photograph because their head is always moving….or they dive at the wrong time! LOL!

  6. stu November 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I recently joined this species .;) great post.

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