Those Crazy Coots

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

This post will lean heavily on photos to discuss an American Coot I found at Goldeneye Reservoir near Casper, Wyoming. Typically, the American Coot found throughout most of the United States is a Red-shielded Coot, e.g. "Image 4."

However, on occasion, a "White-shielded" American Coot makes an appearance (Images 1-3). Sometimes, this appearance can give the observer (me) a significant rise in blood pressure. Why? There are two other coots with white shields that would be considered a "MEGA-RARITIES" in Wyoming and most other states. So, when I observed this bird recently, I overreacted and watched it for 45 minutes while taking over 300 photos. It is not a rare species, but I thought my silly response to a non-rarity would provide a great learning opportunity for us all.

American Coot or Eurasian Coot?

An American Coot

American Coot or Hawaiian Coot?

Still just an American Coot

American Coot or Eurasian Coot or Hawaiian Coot?

And... Still just the same American Coot

Red-shielded American Coot or White-shielded American Coot?

A Red-shielded American Coot. Photo by Sienna "Sharp-shinned" Hawk

American Coot or Hawaiian Coot?

American Coot or Eurasian Coot?

If you paid close attention to the photos above, the size of the white shield as well as the restriction of the shield at its base are all critical factors in coot identification!

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