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RiverWatch November 2023: If It Quacks Like a Duck...

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." Unless it's a coot! American coots and ducks are actually quite distant relatives; they are not the same species, genus, family, or order; in fact, humans are more closely associated with bonobos than coots are to mallards. Who knew?

Mallards and coots clearly have things in common; the Domain tells us they each have membrane-bound nuclei, the shared Kingdom indicates they both eat organic material, breathe oxygen, move about and reproduce with two parents. The Phylum means they have something like a spinal cord and are bilaterally symmetrical on either side of it. Obviously, right? And the Class tells us they are birds as opposed to mammals or reptiles. But after that all bets are off! Gruiformes have distinct digits and Anseriformes are web-footed waterfowl. Check out the cool coot foot below. This investigation came about because we have families of coots paddling through the duckweed here at the river park, snacking and quacking as they go - dare we say, a lot like ducks.

Coot photo credits here and here with our thanks!

Also, in case you are curious!



Spotted the business end of a favorite species yesterday - a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus helleri). We counted 11 sections to the rattle!


Boys and Girls

Speaking of two parents, coyote bush is dioecious, where each plant is either male or female. The female below is on the left, and the male is on the right, and these two plants are rooted right next to each other. A flurry of airborne seeds coming soon...


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Lakeside's River Park Conservancy is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that we raise our own funds for operations. Project grants allow us to do work that fulfills our mission, but individual donations literally help to keep the lights on. Please consider donating today! Thank you.


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