American Coot

Fulica americana

Order

GRUIFORMES

Family

Rails 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 is native to numerous countries in North and Central America. This bird has also been seen in Iceland, Ireland, Greenland and Portugal. The range of the American Coot is estimated to be about 11 million square kilometers. It is believed to be possibly extinct in Ecuador. Despite the possible extinction in this one country, the population of the American Coot is about 6 million individual birds. The evaluation level of the American Coot changed from Lower Risk to Least Concern in 2004. The population of this species is not thought to be in immediate danger of decrease.

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

CERange Map for American Coot

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