Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coot Overload

When one travels to Florida, one might reasonably expect to encounter large numbers of old coots. As someone who has already gotten mailed membership offers from the AARP (at 46, I can already smell the Ben Gay aroma of 50) I wonder about the millions of people who retire to warm, sunny Florida.

I can see why—there are amazing natural spectacles to behold among the birds and beasts, and there are great discounts at Denny's. There is a Denny's on every third corner.

The largest group of coots I have encountered on this trip was on the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR. It was a cold, windy afternoon and the coots were gathered together in large, swimming clusters. They seemed to be bathing, but why would they want to do this together? Were they clustered for protection from predators? It could be—there were several bald eagles around, looking for grub in all the right places. Was it to help reduce the chilling effect of the wind? Did it have a social function? Many birds begin their courtship before migration itself begins.

Or was it just because this was fun? It felt good to be mixing it up, splashing, wheeling, and grunting with 400 of your fellow coots?

I'd be interested in your hypotheses, theories, and answers.

Or maybe it was because there was a super discount on an all-you-care-to-eat buffet, just for old coots.

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At 9:24 AM, Blogger Amy said...

I've seen this before, a huge group of Eurasian Coots in a national park in India. I had the feeling that they were just having fun together. It was also shortly before migration time and it was definitely not cold!

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

I'm sorry.

Birds of a feather....

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Iris said...

"Coot Overload" gets my vote for best bird blog post title of the week. Maybe even the whole month, unless someone can top it in the next few days. Well played!

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Babe. Coot Overload is an ossum blogtitle.

But the "Ben Gay aroma of 50" really sticks in my craw. You need to arrive from the airport bearing flowers.

Fort Holder Downer 'n

Cradle Robber

At 6:27 PM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

speaking of 'coot overload' the below is still one of my all-time favorite blog posts:

(be sure to read the comments section)

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Gotta love a guy who frequents Cute Overload, C. Thrush. That was great.

Can you tell he's been gone too long? I'm lurking around my husband's comments section. Pfft.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger KatDoc said...

Having seen Birdchick's post on all the coots at Merritt Island yesterday, my hypothesis is that the coots only hang around in huge flocks like this during the Space Coast Bird Festival, in order to get their pictures on the Internet.

Dude - you are younger than Julie and I? Then, how come we look so much better?

{Way to go, Zick, for snagging a youngster!}

~Kathi, who files all those AARP letters in the recycle bin

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

So, where's the sushi?

What time does Donald Duck come on?

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Janet Creamer said...

Maybe they are all dining at a "Cooters". They are known for their wings.

Sorry.... :)

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

That title is slick, BOTB! Hope you all are having a blast at Space Coast.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

I don't blame them.
Bathing is a LOT more fun with company.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Wren said...

Perhaps they're queueing up for the early-bird special.

And yes, that is a fab post title. Wish I'd thought of it.

Now, repeat after me "I only belong to AARP for the discounts. Fortunately, my spouse is old enough to be a member." (Sorry, Julie)


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