More
    Categories

    American Coot (Fulica americana)

    Related Articles

    Distribution & Habitat

    About 10 species of coots are found worldwide, with the most varieties in South America. They often quarrel among themselves as they swim about on open water or walk on the shore, nodding their heads as they go.

    Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds. Although they are related to the secretive rails, they swim in the open like ducks and walk about onshore, making themselves at home on golf courses and city park ponds. Usually, in flocks, they are aggressive and noisy, making a wide variety of calls by day and night.

    They have strong legs and big feet with lobed toes, and coots fighting over territorial boundaries will rear up and attack each other with their feet. When taking flight, they must patter across the water, flapping their wings furiously, before becoming airborne.

    Diet

    Coots are omnivorous. They eat mostly plant material, including stems, leaves, and seeds of pondweeds, sedges, grasses, and many others; also insects, tadpoles, fish, worms, snails, crayfish, prawns, eggs of other birds. Also steals food from other ducks.

    Nesting Behaviour

    The American Coot is very aggressive in defending its nesting territory. In courtship, the male may pursue female across the water. Nest (built by both sexes) is a floating platform of dead cattails, bulrushes, sedges, lined with finer material, anchored to standing plants. Several similar platforms may be built, only one or two used for nesting.

    Length: 12.8 – 17.2 inches

    Habitat: Ponds, lakes, marshes; in winter, also fields, park ponds, salt bays. For breeding season requires shallow fresh water with much marsh vegetation.

    Range: Breeds south through most of Mexico and locally in Central America, Colombia, and West Indies. Northern populations are migratory, while the others are resident. Occurs in brackish estuaries in winter.

    Conservation Status: The American Coot is considered a game bird in many states. It is still abundant in many areas but has decreased in recent decades in some areas, especially in the east.

    Video Credits: Mark Vance
    Image Credits: fletchershauna

    Categories

    Other Topics

    Enhancing Garden Soil

    There are several major ways of making your soil highly productive and supportive of good plant growth. Humus

    Purple-throated Euphonia

    Appearance The Purple-throated Euphonia (Euphonia chlorotica) is a small songbird with a short, thick bill. Males are purplish...

    Progressive Retinal Atrophy

    What Is A Progressive Retinal Atrophy? Inherited retinal diseases are among the leading causes of incurable vision loss...

    Belted Kingfisher

    Overview As it leaves a favored perch overlooking a pool or lake, the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) often...

    Bloodhound

    History & Overview This ancient breed takes its name not from the blood of its victims, but from...