Another bird to add to the life list -- the American coot. This is a dark water bird with a distinctive white bill with a small patch of black near the end. The most unusual characteristic of the bird, however, is its long, lobed toes that are a yellow-green or grayish-yellow color. I've seen these birds along the river for weeks, but wasn't able to get a good enough identification to feel comfortable adding them to my life list until my husband and I enjoyed a walk down near Utah Lake last weekend.
During our walk, we were disappointed in the birds at the lake itself -- they were incredibly shy and paddled quickly away whenever we came near. After walking along the lake shore, however, we went up the Provo River Trail for a piece and spotted more American coots in the river. One turned to face us just at the right moment, and a shaft of autumn sun struck down through the water and I very clearly saw the two long toes on one foot. Voila, a positive identification and another species to easily add to my life list. A bit of patience and keen observation was all that was needed, and perhaps this weekend I'll go be patient along another trail to discover even more birds.