My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Snail vs. Coot

On Sunday, I did one of my all day birding extravaganzas along the Lake Michigan shoreline, starting at Harbor Island which is near Grand Haven Michigan. I had spent the morning shooting photos of birds (of course) that will appear in another post, or be added to the posts that I’ve already done in the My Photo Life List project that I began last year.

I had covered most of Harbor Island and had made it back to my vehicle, in preparation for heading to my next stop. I was feeling a bit hungry, so I decided on a snack before continuing on. I had brought a loaf of French bread with me, my favorite thing to gnaw on while on trip like the one this day. I had broken off a chunk of the bread, and was enjoying the fine spring day, when I noticed an American Coot very close to me, right along the shore where I had parked.

I grabbed my camera which had the Sigma 150-500 mm lens with a Tamron 1.4 X tele-converter installed behind it, to get a few photos of the coot. Some of the following photos aren’t great, it’s hard to shoot photos with a chunk of French bread clinched in your teeth at the same time.

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

It looks as if the coot was seeing its own reflection for the first time, but it was really looking for food, which it soon found.

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

I knew that some birds eat snails, I assumed that they crushed the snail’s shell to get tot the snail itself, but this coot didn’t do that. It inserted its beak into the shell until it got a hold on the snail, then shook its head violently to pull the snail from its shell.

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

Crude, but effective, as you can see here. You can click on any of these photos for a larger version, and if you do, you’ll see that the snail is in the coot’s beak as the shell drops away.

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

There must have been a few snails there, as the coot repeat the process several times.

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

American coot with snail

If you look closely, you can see that things didn’t go well on the last snail, the coot lost its grip on the snail, which landed on the coot’s beak.

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

This lead to some wild gyrations by the coot as it tried to get the snail off from its beak, and into its mouth.

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

American coot with snail stuck to its beak

The coot persevered, and swan off in search of more morsels of food.

American coot

American coot

I finished my chunk of French bread, and went off in search of more birds to photograph.

That’s it for this one, I hope that you enjoyed this little look into both the feeding practices of coots, and how things don’t always go as planned in the world of nature, just as in the human world. Thanks for stopping by!

Advertisements

22 responses

  1. Just wonderful

    April 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

    • Thank you!

      April 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

  2. Very nice images, great post!

    April 7, 2014 at 10:59 am

    • Thanks Robert!

      April 8, 2014 at 2:11 am

  3. Great series of pics! The coot seems to have fine taste in food!

    April 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    • Thanks, but before they can taste their food, they have to get it into their mouths!

      April 8, 2014 at 2:12 am

  4. What a kick! Great sequence. Would love to have that guy come snack on the many snails in my garden… πŸ˜€

    April 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    • Thank you, next time I see the coot I’ll suggest that he check out your garden if he’s ever in your area. πŸ˜‰

      April 8, 2014 at 2:13 am

  5. The thought of that coot looking cross eyed down his bill at the snail made me laugh.
    He must have had to shake like mad to get those snails out of their shells-they don’t come out easily.

    April 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    • It was funny to watch. And, watching the coot remove the snails from their shell had me questioning if the effort the coot made to get to the snails was worth the nutrition it got from the snails, because he really did have to shake violently to get the snails.

      April 8, 2014 at 2:17 am

  6. Good story.

    April 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      April 8, 2014 at 2:17 am

  7. Love those red eyes! Great series and story, Jerry, what a hoot that coot! The snail on the beak had me laughing. πŸ™‚

    April 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    • Thanks Donna, it was hard to keep from laughing so that I wouldn’t shake the camera.

      April 8, 2014 at 2:19 am

  8. This is great! Loved it, it gave me a laugh, and also gave me a glimpse into the world of the coot! Thanks, Jerry!

    April 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    • Thank you! Those were too good not to post them all.

      April 10, 2014 at 2:30 am

  9. You take better photos with a chunk of bread in your mouth than 99.5% of us will ever take on the best days of our life. Great running commentary.

    April 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

    • Thanks, but you’re too kind. My claim to fame is spending so much time outside and shooting so many photos, there has to be a few good ones now and then.

      April 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  10. I don’t know anything about cameras but yours certainly takes some first class pictures. Could it be that you are a first class photographer?

    April 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    • Thank you Susan! My camera is a mid-level Canon 60 D, but I do spend time reading the manual to get the best out of it. That, and I bought the best lenses that I could afford, and that’s where the quality comes from.

      April 11, 2014 at 2:20 am

  11. I’ve seen this three times now, and it STILL makes me laugh! Fantastic series of shots, and the commentary was perfect!

    April 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    • Thanks Jan, I should clone the photo of the coot with its beak wide open with the snail still there, and crop in on the coot’s face, it could be a hoot.

      April 15, 2014 at 3:05 am