Sunday, August 8, 2010
If you read my blog, you will no doubt know my predilection for large and stationary birds. Common Moorhen and American Coot, don't exactly fall into category, but they are usually fairly chunky (chunky enough to make some people eat them--at least the Coots, I'm not sure about the Moorhens) and slow-moving, if not quite immobile. As far as Rallids go, they're probably the easiest to see, which makes them my favourite among their closer relatives.
It's not too difficult to see the similarities between the two: both are gray-ish birds, both live in marshes, both have a similar body shape. Yet there are some differences that are worth noticing (just in case you're ever in a situation where immediate identification is not possible!). For example, their rear ends: the American Coot's rear end just slopes down (rather like a duck's) while the Common Moorhen's rear definitely points upward. Then their feet (which of course are hard to see) differ, too. While Coots have four lobed toes, green in color, Moorhens have very long toes, not lobed, yellow in color, and a little reminiscent of claws.
The more challenging distinction is of course between baby coots and baby grebes--but at the moment I lack a photo of a baby coot, so that entry will be coming up as soon as I get an appropriate shot....