An American Coot?On several of my walks along my favorite section of the Old Plank Road Trail in Matteson, Illinois, I’ve seen geese, ducks, and even seagulls flocking toward a body of water north of the trail. With no way to get there directly from the trail though, I’ve never wandered over. Today, while running some errands, I drove over and investigated.
I found a pretty neat place to see waterfowl and wading birds.
Although I’ve taken my car into the nearby Honda dealership twice for warranty work, I’ve never driven behind the dealership. I do not know the history of this part of Matteson, so I’m not sure if this water is a small lake that’s always been here, or if it’s a large retention pond that was put in when the land was developed. (I do know that the recession hit this auto mall pretty hard with at least two closed dealerships.)
I also don’t know much about Miller Gardens, a nice enough park with benches and a walkway but no significant gardens. I parked along the street, grabbed my camera–but, alas, no binoculars–and took a walk around. Miller Gardens sits along the southern edge of the water. Some of the reedy grass along the edge of the water has been cut down, leaving a 10′-12′ open spot to get right up to the edge of the water. I walked up to get a better look at the cormorants and geese in the center of the lake when I noticed this mystery bird to my right, close to the edge of the water in the reeds.
It was swimming around like a duck. Its coloring and bill were strange for a duck, so I snapped a few pictures and figured I’d look it up when I got home.
It was harder than I thought, especially because I kept gravitating towards the duck section of the book. Once I looked in a different bird book (and got away from the duck section), I think I found it: the American coot.
One of the books describes it as “common,” but if it’s so common, how come I’ve never seen it? My other bird book describes it as “superficially duck-like.” I take umbrage at this book’s description, calling me superficial for thinking it was a duck.
I really need to stop taking my bird books so seriously.