American Coot

Fulica americana

Order

GRUIFORMES

Family

Rails, Gallinules and Coots (Rallidae)

Code 4

AMCO

Code 6

FULAME

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The American Coot has a large range of around 11 million square kilometers. This includes a large area in Canada, much of the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of Central and northern South America. The population of the American Coot is about 6 million individual birds. This species has a conservation rating of Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

American Coot: Medium-sized, chicken-like swimming bird, dark gray to black overall, 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. 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.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"ke-yik", "k-rrk"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Coots are kleptoparasitic, which means that when they don’t feel like hunting for their own food, they’ll steal their meal from other birds.
  • Even though the American Coot swims like a duck, they do not have webbed feet, the toes have lobes on the sides of each segment.
  • They are nicknamed "marsh hen" or "mud hen" because of they way their heads bob when they walk or swim.
  • A group of coots has many collective nouns, including a "codgery", "commotion", "fleet", "shoal", and "swarm" of coots.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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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