A Handsome Coot?

I love American Coots for a variety of reasons including their raucous and quarrelsome nature that makes it so much fun to photograph their behaviors. But folks rarely think of them as beautiful or even attractive birds and I seldom get coot photos where they even look dignified much less handsome or alluring. Throw in their overall black color combined with that bright white bill and shield and you have a subject that is both difficult to expose properly and inherently challenging to present in a manner that has broad appeal.

But two days ago I succeeded about as well as I ever have with a coot.


1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The bird took an extended bath so I fired off 166 shots hoping to get interesting images of flying water and weird, contorted poses but in the end I didn’t like any of them very much. But as the bath concluded the coot turned at a perfect angle toward me for the direction of light and performed a wing flap that allowed me to get a single image that I like a lot. I have excellent light on the entire coot, the whites and blacks are well exposed, I like the pose, the coot is sharp throughout, I have a relatively low angle on the bird and this might be the best definition I’ve ever achieved on the wing primaries and secondaries of this species.

And I’ll be damned. I think I’d even call this coot handsome. Or at least stately and dignified and that doesn’t happen every day with this species.

After so many photos in most of my recent posts I decided to give all of us a break today and post only a single image. I suspect we could all use a breather…




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