American Coot Being Chased By Mallards For Food

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American Coot being chased by MallardsAmerican Coot being chased by Mallards – Nikon D500, f8, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Early in January I photographed an American Coot being chased by two Mallards for the food it carried in its bill. American Coots are both intraspecific and interspecific kleptoparasites meaning that they will steal food from their own species and other species, I see that kind of behavior from them often with their own kind, less often with other species. Some ducks are also intraspecific and interspecific kleptoparasites.

In this photo the coot knew it was being chased and was swimming to the shoreline with its bill filled with aquatic vegetation as fast as it could with the two mallards on its tail. As the coot moved through the water the mallards were snatching up bits of the vegetation with their bills that fell out of the clump back into the water.

The coot had done the work of bringing the food to the surface, the mallards gained food without much effort on their part. The coot didn’t look very happy that the mallards were chasing after it but to be fair coots kind of look grumpy most of the time.

Life is good.


*Kleptoparasitism or cleptoparasitism (literally, parasitism by theft) is a form of feeding in which one animal takes prey or other food from another that has caught, collected, or otherwise prepared the food, including stored food


  1. Azstu February 6, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Amazing Photo

  2. Utahbooklover February 1, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Interesting post and image. Some sad news in our local paper (Box Elder News Journal) today. 25 Pronghorn Antelope were killed by a rancher’s truck on a remote, snow-packed country road (22000 West, about a mile south of the Golden Spike National Monument) early Friday morning in the fog. Didn’t say how fast he was going. The high snow-pack adjacent to the roadway made it a more desirable place to be. Tragic!

  3. Patty Chadwick February 1, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Karma….(I’m counting on it)…

  4. Deborah February 1, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Such a great photo!

  5. Patty Chadwick February 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Did the coot get to shore and get to eat the rest of the vegetation???

    • Mia McPherson February 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Yes, it did get to shore and ate what was left in its bill. 🙂

  6. S. Hansen February 1, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Really appreciate your sharing this kind of information; it adds a lot to my appreciation of the different species. Thanks.

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