Duck-like Birds

American Coot American Coot
Fulica americana


15" (38 cm). A gray, duck-like bird with white bill and frontal shield, white undertail coverts, and lobed toes. Frontal shield has red swelling at upper edge, visible at close range. Immatures similar but paler, with duller bill.


A variety of clucks, cackles, grunts, and other harsh notes.


Open ponds and marshes; in winter, also on coastal bays and inlets.


8-10 pinkish eggs, spotted with brown, on a shallow platform of dead leaves and stems, usually on water but anchored to a clump of reeds.


Breeds from British Columbia, western Canada, and New York locally southward. Winters north to British Columbia, Kansas, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Also in American tropics.


Coots are the most aquatic members of their family, moving on open water like ducks and often feeding with them. Coots feed in many ways: by diving to the bottom, dabbling at the surface, grazing on land near shore, and stealing food from other diving birds. They are expert swimmers, propelled by wide lobes on their toes, but they are also heavy birds that must patter over the water before becoming airborne.