It was a lucky day with Naturalist Charlie Browne, when we spotted an American Coot swimming around in Shelburne Bay. We were watching the ducks when we noticed one of those birds doesn't look like the others!
"There is an American Coot here and it's unusual for it to be in Vermont in the winter time. We're right on the northern edge of it's winter range."
Coots are not ducks, and they like quiet waters, reeds and marshy areas. You will also see them dive for aquatic plants in shallow water, but according to Browne, it's not typical to see one out on the wind blown bay, like this.
So what do you suppose he's doing here?
"Well, he's probably wishing he'd left a little earlier, but as soon as any ice forms here, he will leave."
A more typical area to find him in January, would be the coastal areas, where the marshes are unfrozen and there is open water all of the time.
You can recognize the American Coot by his bill. A Coot doesn't look like much like a duck if you really take a hard look, because the bill is very different. Rather than being a broad, flat bill like most ducks, the Coots bill is more conical, and the bill is white, or an ivory color which stands out against the dark grey and black feathers of the bird.
This bird will likely continue on south from here soon. We were lucky to find him here today!
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