I was surprised to see an odd duck swimming in the lake--charcoal grey body and a startling white beak--but it wasn't a duck at all. It was an American Coot. Even though Coots swim like ducks and have similar bills, they're really more closely related to Sandhill Cranes. Here's some video of this fascinating waterfowl.
American Coots spend their lives on or around the water. Smaller than a Mallard, they have bodies shaped like chickens. Despite their swimming prowess, their feet aren't webbed; instead, Coots have large, leaf-like feet that propel them through the water.
American Coots feed on aquatic plants, grains, and insects and crustaceans. They breed in freshwater wetlands among aquatic vegetations growing in standing water. In fact, their nests are floating structures anchored to plants.
These awesome waterfowl winter in the Southeast and breed west of the Mississippi River and Canada. I guess this one was heading home to start a family and took a break to wait out the bad weather. That was lucky for me because I've never seen an American Coot before and seeing a new bird makes it a good day!!