American Coots

The title may be reminiscent of recent movies like “American Sniper,” or “American Hustle,” or slightly older ones such as “American Psycho” and “American Beauty.” But as the video suggests, the American Coot is a type of bird, a wading species in a family called Rallidae, which most non-birders probably haven’t heard of because the birds are typically either near water or hiding in dense vegetation. Coots, along with rails, gallinules, and crakes, make up the Rallidae family, and all these types of birds like to stay on the ground, very rarely flying or venturing into trees unless it helps escape a predator. They’re more closely related to cranes than to ducks.

In the video above, a juvenile American Coot forages in the shallow waters of a section of San Jose del Cabo’s estuary, where a river meets the ocean in a brackish mixing of water. The bird’s mother is close by, and its father is foraging just a few feet away as well. You can see the massive feet that this species, and most birds in the Rallidae family, have evolved to distribute their weight better over floating vegetation and silty mud, like snowshoes but for wading. The American Coot is found through most of the United States, part of Canada, and even migrates through much of Central America and lives in parts of the Caribbean.

Although I didn’t have time to explore the whole estuary area, it is a protected bird sanctuary and somewhere that guests at Villa del Faro can easily visit as a day trip to go bird-watching and then explore the historic district of San Jose del Cabo for lunch and art.

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