THE NARRATIVE ARC

The Coots Migrated North and Left One Behind

This worries me

Laura DeMaisBerg
The Narrative Arc
Published in
4 min readJun 5, 2024

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Coot perched on a log with beak open
Photo by Amee Fairbank-Brown on Unsplash

Every winter the coots come to our lake. As if by magic, one day they are suddenly there, in the hundreds, floating on the lake near the shore. I’ve read that coots migrate at night which might solve the mystery as to why I’ve never seen their arrival.

My partner and I, along with two of our favorite neighbors, have an informal coot fan club. As soon as one of us notices their arrival, we alert the others and from that moment on exchange photos, videos and group texts about coots until they fly away into the night again.

The coots travel in large floats that change shape like colored oil in a Lava Lamp. The circle changes into a swirl that then moves into an hourglass shape and back to a circle again. The coots travel in packs, in part to protect themselves from their avian predators. When an eagle or an osprey approaches, the coots scatter, staying strong and united as a float, but often leaving a handful of birds vulnerable to the clutches of the raptors.

My favorite part of coot TV is when they do what I call their ‘the ballerina glide.’ As if cued by an underwater director, they all suddenly tippie-toe-float twenty or thirty yards in one direction or another. Then, again as if signaled from below, softly…

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Laura DeMaisBerg
The Narrative Arc

I write about seemingly mundane experiences that are relatable because we are human. Subscribe on Substack to get my stories directly: lauramc.sub-stack.com