When I first found these strange birds down at the Pond, I had no idea what they were. I'd never seen them before in my life. Apparently I wasn't the only Oklahoman not familiar with the American Coot (Fulica Americana).
According to www.birdsofoklahoma.net, the American Coot may be described as a 15" Gray duck-like bird with a white bill and frontal shield, white undertail coverts, and lobed toes, frontal shield has a red swelling at its upper edge, visible at close range, immatures similar but paler.
The Coot eats mostly aquatic vegetation, algae; also fish, tadpoles, crustaceans, snails, worms, aquatic and terrestrial insects, eggs of other marsh-nesting birds. It pirates plants from ducks.
Coots are usually found near shore, considered golf course and gun club pests. Fortunately, they are migratory and are not a problem for long. According to The Journal of Wildlife Management, the coots arrive in late February and a generally gone by May.
This picture (taken by Berlin Heck) shows a pair of Coots. Although the name is eerily similar (as suggested by a couple of readers of this blog), I do not believe that this bird was intentionally named in honor of the Cooter. Although it would have been interesting, and a very different experience, had a "Vajayjay" nested in my Pond.
Maybe the confusion comes because like the words to, to, too, too and two - Coot and Cooter are very close, but they are not homonyms like the 2's. Homonyms are words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Coot and Cooter are actually paronyms - words which are almost homonyms, but have slight differences in spelling or pronunciation and have different meanings. A Coot is not a HappyMeal's unmentionable bald biscuit. Just as a Cooter is not just a bird. It's a actually any of several freshwater turtles.
Words like affect and effect are probably