I know. I know. You are thinking, “Lisa, we just saw pictures of these American Coot chicks two days ago. They are always eating!” It’s true.
I’ve been mulling over why I am perfectly happy taking photos of Coot chicks again. Perhaps I am drawn by their semi-cuteness. Maybe I’m a sucker for observing the tender moments between the parents and their chicks. Sometimes I’m motivated by wanting to get a better shot the next time I see them. There’s an aspect of comfort in seeing that they are surviving and thriving. For the present moment, the Coots are what are here.
These birds are also absorbed in the present moment. Often, that involves eating. Sometimes, it means napping. At other times, it means floating in calm water on a warm Sunday afternoon. They are not distracted by “to do” lists and cluttered lives. Their full attention is given to what is important. At the moment, it is teaching their little ones how to pull up yummy underwater marsh vegetation.
Maybe that’s one thing that draws me to the Marsh. It is an opportunity to come away and to be engaged in the moment rather than inundated with life’s many demands. It’s a chance to come away and single-task, just like the Coots.
It has been a little over 2 weeks and the recipients of the 2016 Ugly Chick Award have made some progress. Feathers are filling in on their bald red heads. I’m assuming this is the same brood of American Coots since they are in the same area on the south side of Highway 49. The chicks are growing fast and already eating large amounts of aquatic plants. The parents pull up a beak full of underwater vegetation and the chicks swim alongside and help themselves.
Both parents feed the chicks. The chicks alternate back and forth between the two parents. The family likes to take a swim together.
The Killdeer has a companion with her today. They are both quietly standing near the nest. I’m surprised that they are not alarmed by my presence and trying to draw me away from the nest. I wonder if hatching is getting close, but I don’t see any cracks in the eggs.
I was trolling for pictures driving slowly along the shoulder of Highway 49 when I saw this spectacular Double-crested Cormorant sitting on a post on the south side of the road. Cormorants need to air dry their wings before they can fly after swimming. Water doesn’t run off of their backs and their plumage isn’t waterproof. I guess that’s why they use ducks, not cormorants, in the idiom “like water off a duck’s back.” Ducks have oily feathers. Plus, “like water off a cormorant’s back” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Hmmm…I’m not sure what this is all about.
I continued driving slowly when I spotted this colorful ball of feathers swimming in and out of the cattails close to the road.
In this case, maybe a picture really is worth a thousand words. Can you guess what it is?
Thankfully, he was swimming with mom so I was able to identify it as an American Coot.
 John Eastman, Birds of Lake, Pond and Marsh: Water and Wetland Birds of Eastern North America (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999), 183.