Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
For more posts and photos, I also post on Hubpages, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Shorebirdie on Hubpages

Sunday, July 22, 2012

RIP baby coot

I saw the young coot in the above picture this morning and he was just fine.  The photo above was taken almost two weeks ago because I see this little guy all the time and never thought that he would be gone so soon.  Not even the gulls and herons bothered him.  He thought he was a duck and liked to hang out with them.  Two adult coots, presumably his parents, were always nearby.  I estimated him to be about 6-7 weeks old.  He was the one who tried to comfort Peaches after all her ducklings died.

I found him dead less than an hour later, missing his head.  I saw the gull below eating the head and I assumed they were the ones who killed him.  He looked like he was drowned and was found quite a distance from the ducks and where I last saw him.

Note this gull's baldness, not uncommon for young birds to lose all their head down before getting their new feathers.

However, now that I think about it, this juvenile gull is so young I don't even think he knew how to drown a coot.  And, the older gulls were preoccupied with a dead fish someone left.  So, I now think that the coot's presumed parents killed him.  Several other young coots around the same age have died or disappeared lately at this lake.  Usually, from what I've observed, coots will tend to their young for the first 6-8 weeks.  Then, they will tolerate them in their territory for at least another 4-5 weeks.  After about 12-13 weeks (or 85-90 days), the parents will chase their chick away or kill them if they stay.  The young coot that died today was already capable of feeding himself, but was still too young and small to leave his parents.  However, since he thought he was one of the ducks, he may not have thought he had to leave the area.

Another case where a coot about the same age went missing.   A baby coot, about 6 weeks old, went missing about a week ago.  Now, his parents have a new baby:

In another area, one baby coot went missing at about 6 weeks old, but its sibling lived on and went missing at almost 8 weeks old.   A third baby coot from another couple continued to live in the area until he was about 12 weeks old with no problem.  No sign of any of these missing baby coots have been seen since their disappearance.  It is possible that some of those baby coots moved out of their parents territory.

I am having an extremely hard time following Fish Food Mama's ducklings because they seem to have blended in with the 8 drop offs from a few weeks ago who are the same age.  Here are some photos of some young ducks hanging out.

In this next photo, I think these are the 8 ducklings and two or three of Fish Food Mama's ducklings.

 I have not seen Neo or his mother in a very long time.  I would love to get a new picture of him.  Plus, I didn't see the three ducklings or any other young ducklings in the area.  Nor have I see Bossy duck or his mom, lately.

I was surprised to see this least sandpiper this morning:

And, this little killdeer is a cutie!  I don't know who it is, but it might be one of Killer's chicks from this year.  Or, it could be one of George's chicks from last year (perhaps Squeak's sister) or from this year.  She looks a LOT like George.  So much, that I almost thought it was him.

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