Almost all aquatic birds, ones that swim, have webbed feet. Just a few aquatic birds have evolved an alternative solution to webbed feet to augment the paddle power of their feet and these are the grebes and coots.
Grebes and coots have lobed feet, each toe has a stiff flap along both sides and each is independent of the other toes.
The following photos of a Great Crested Grebe and a Eurasian Coot show the lobed feet.
Please click on photos to enlarge.
|Great Crested Grebe|
|Great Crested Grebe with one foot out of the water – the lobes or paddle flaps are clearly visible.|
|Preening with lobed feet looks awkward?|
All coot species have lobed feet including the widespread and numerous Eurasian Coot found in Australia.
|Eurasian Coot perched on a log – note the feet.|
|Close cropped photo of a Coot’s lobed feet.|
The outer and middle toes have three lobes and the inner toe has two.
Grebes and coots are excellent swimmers, both on and under the surface of the water, so the lobed alternative to webbed feet works well.