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SCV Outdoor Report: Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Coot

By: Wendy Langhans.


I watched this coot munching on grass at the edge of Bridgeport Lake

The Coots of Bridgeport have been featured lately in the local news and internet commentary.  It seems to me that our response to the coots says as much about us as it does about the coots.  (So with apologies to the poet Wallace Stevens)  


I. From the perspective of a preschooler: “Oooh!  Duckies!” 


II. From the perspective of the preschooler’s mother: “Sweetheart, be careful.  Don’t step in the duck poopie!  Followed by, “Oh gross! How am I ever going to get that bird poop off those shoes?” 


III. From the perspective of a wise old grandmother: “Birds of a feather flock together.”   


IV. From the perspective of a duck hunter: “Mud hens are not good eating.”  (This bit of wisdom comes from my 85 year old father, who has been hunting ducks in western Wisconsin for the past 75 years.) 


V.  From the perspective of a wetlands hydrologist: “Has the resident coot population exceeded the filtering capacity of the artificial wetland?” 


VI. From the perspective of a Progressive activist: “They shouldn’t have built those homes there to begin with.  And what’s with that ridiculous lake?  Let’s set up a protest demonstration.” 


VII. From the perspective of a Libertarian activist: “No dadgum government is going to tell me what I can or can’t do with my property!” VIII. From the perspective of a Bridgeport homeowner: “Those doggone birds are eating my landscaping!  Can I afford what it will cost me to repair the damage?”  


IX. From the perspective of an ornithologist: American Coots (Fulica americana) is a migratory bird.  It lives in fresh water. 

Coots have distinctive white markings on their backsides

X.  From the perspective of a newspaper editor: “This story will make good copy.  Somebody get me a picture of a coot.” 


XI. From the perspective of a potential avian suitor: “Oh baby!  Would you take a look at the tail feathers on that bird!”  Humans cannot tell a male coot from a female coot simply by looking at them.  But somehow the coots know. 


XII. From the perspective of other birds competing for available food. "There use to be more to eat around here.”  Coots are omnivorous and will eat plant material as well as small aquatic animals.  According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s “Animal Diversity Web”, they have been known to steal food from other birds. 


XIII. From the perspective of a coyote, osprey or other predators: “You just have to get past all the feathers to get at the good stuff” 



(Disclaimer – my husband and I live in the Bridgeport development and we often walk around the lake.  I am also a card carrying member of the Audubon society.  If anybody wants to join me on a walk, I’ll be at the corner of Bridgeport Lane and Bayside Lane on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3:00 pm.  It’s just a walk, so please just bring your binoculars and leave your political agenda behind.) 


Upcoming Outdoor Events:  (Remember, heavy rain cancels MRCA-sponsored events) Saturday, Jan. 19, 3:00 – 4:30 PM.  Walk at Bridgeport Lake.Join Wendy Langhans for neighborhood walk to see the coots and other birds at Bridgeport Lake.  Meet at the corner of Bridgeport Lane and Bayside Lane.Not sponsored by any organization – it’s just a simple neighborhood walk. 

Coots gather together in flocks

Saturday, Jan. 19, 8:00 -10:00 AM.  Bird Walk at Towsley Canyon.Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.Link for map: Saturday, Jan. 26, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 


Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout.  For more information call Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565 or by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Saturday, Jan. 16, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  Magic Mountain Micro-Trash Clean Up.For more information contact Dianne Erskine zuliebear@aol.comSponsored by the Community Hiking Club.




You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.  For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

American Coots and Canadian Geese are both migratory birds that live in wetlands

SCV Outdoor Report: Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Coot

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