An American Coot (Fulica americana) getting ready to jump out of the water and grab a tasty morsel hanging from a reed above its head. I captured this moment early one morning at the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area outside of McNeal in Arizona. The warm light of the early morning sun is what gives the water its silky golden color.

I find these birds difficult to shoot, invariably getting either no detail for their black feathers, or blowing out their white beak. This photo is probably one of the better images I've managed.

As I watched this bird, I noticed that it kept looking up into the reeds. Suddenly, it jumped straight up out of the water, grabbed the green part of one of the reeds, and ripped it off with it's beak. Once back in the water, it greedily ate the morsel.

It repeated this sequence several times, and soon I could tell when it would leap out of the water. Alas, my captures of the actual leap all turned out blurry, but I did manage to get this nice image just prior to the jump.

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Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 50-500 mm f/4-6.3
Focal Length: 700mm
Aperture: f14
Shutter Speed: 1/100s
ISO: 1000
Date: 2008-01-05
Time: 08:14:08