In retrospect, it seems strangely appropriate that the first shots I got on Bear River Migratory Refuge are these shots of young American Coots,
though I didn’t immediately recognize them when I sighted them. As it turns out, the refuge was full of American Coots on this visit, way more than I remember seeing in past visits.
It was clear that many of these youngsters
were on their own, that their parents were already raising a second brood.
I don’t remember seeing an American Coot at this stage of development before.
As Leslie pointed out, at this stage they look a lot like baby Western Grebes — and very little like they do as babies. The best way to identify them as coots is to look at their very distinctive legs and feet.
While these youngster seemed to be wandering all over the refuge by themselves, there was also a considerable number adults raising recently born chicks.
Once you’ve seen these guys, it’s impossible to deny the existence of ugly babies, cute as they may be.