American Coot

Fulica americana




Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pink to buff marked with black and brown

Number of Eggs:

2 - 12

Incubation Days:

21 - 25

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Floating and anchored to vegetation.

Nest Material:

Lined with fine material., Made of dead stems.





American Coot: Medium-sized, chicken-like swimming bird, dark gray to black overall except for short, white bill and undertail coverts. Toes are lobed, not webbed. Upper edge of frontal shield is red, but usually only visible at close range. A few variants have have white frontal shields. Sexes are similar. Juveniles are paler and have duller bill. Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats, feet protrude past tail.

Range and Habitat

American Coot: Breeds from British Columbia, western Canada, and New York locally southward. Usually spends winters north to British Columbia, Kansas, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Preferred habitats include open ponds and marshes. Found on coastal bays and inlets, often occurring in large rafts during winter.

Breeding and Nesting

American Coot: Two to twelve black and brown marked, pink to buff eggs are laid on a shallow platform of dead leaves and stems, usually on water but anchored to a clump of reeds. Incubation ranges from 21 to 25 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

American Coot: Feeds on plant materials, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, snails, worms, and sometimes bird eggs; forages by tipping, diving from the surface, or walking along shorelines.


American Coot: Emits a variety of clucks, cackles, grunts, and other harsh notes, some rather eerie. One of the "jungle bird" calls used in old Tarzan movies.

Similar Species

American Coot: Common Gallinule has a red bill with a yellow tip, white stripe along the flanks, and brown back.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
Frontal shieldX
The area where the bill extends onto the forehead of the bird. It is often brightly colored and is meant to grab the attention of other birds.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X