My Witt's End

Foraging With Friends

Originally posted 6 October 2012


 American Coot (left) gets the boot, errr, beak, from a White-faced Ibis


This morning, with limited time for birding, Susan and I opted to return to a spot we had seen only from afar; a small wetland spot right in the harbor at Santa Barbara. We had seen some shorebirds there earlier in the week and thought it might have something to offer.

As we walked around this small estuary we feared our instincts might have led us astray. Not much happening. As we neared the end of our loop walk, a juvenile White-faced Ibis dropped from the sky about 100 feet from us. This bird is not unheard of in this local, but it is not very common either. In eight years of birding California together, this was our first encounter with a White-faced Ibis.

The bird seemed a bit nervous, but hungry, as it worked its way around the edges of a pool crowded with American Coots and a few Blue-winged Teal. It found a spot that had something to its liking and held still long enough for us to move into position for some good viewing. As it ate and churned up the bottom around its feet, the coots worked their way over to get in on the free eats.

Without warning (at least none we could detect) the ibis swung its massive bill and whacked one of the coots on the butt.

Moral of the story: Birds of the feather don’t always forage together.



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