*NEW* Time: Refreshments at 7:00PM; program at 7:30PM
Speaker: Bruce Lyon
Topic: Reconsider the Coot: The Crazy Reproductive Antics of a Common Marsh Denizen
Photos (left to right): Bruce Lyon, American Coot, American Coot adult and chick
Description: Coots are often overlooked by birders because they are so common. I have been studying the reproductive antics of American Coots for the past two decades and have discovered that there is far more to this bird than meets the eye. In the talk I highlight some of our discoveries about the parental and reproductive strategies of coots, from both a natural history and scientific perspective. We all are familiar with the story of the cuckoo female that lays eggs in the nests of other species rather than raising chicks herself. Some coot females do this sort of thing, but they lay their eggs in the nests of other coot females. Why would they do this — why lay eggs elsewhere when you have your own nest? What do the birds that receive these unwanted foster eggs do? Coots are just as bizarre when it comes to raising their own kids, and there are many puzzling features of coot parental care behavior. For example, why do coots lay far more eggs than they can normally raise and why do they beat up their kids so much? And, finally, why are baby coots born with such a ridiculously fluorescent orange plumage? I will answer these questions in my talk. In addition, because our coot research was done in a wild part of central British Columbia I will also briefly highlight a few of the special birds we encounter at our study site.