Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

American Coot

American Coot
Fulica americana
Duck-like Birds | Family: Rails, Gallinules, Coots, Rallidae

An estimated 9% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

Description

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.

Voice

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

Nesting

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.

Habitat

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

Range/Migration

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