American Coot

The American Coot is a black bird with a small, white bill. Occasionally, a small red patch can be visible above the bill. They are commonly seen floating on bodies of water. Unlike other birds associated with the water, they lack webbed feet and instead have several lobes along each toe that help propel them through the water.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Fulica americana
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
5-9 Years
SIZE
15.5-17 ” | 1.3-1.5 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Waterfowl
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The American Coot can be found in a wide range of wetland and freshwater habitats, ranging from large lakes to flooded prairies. Wetland habitat offering abundant aquatic vegetation and shallow shorelines is generally preferred.

  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh

Threats

  • Drought
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss
  • Water Diversion

Natural History

American Coots eat aquatic plants such as duckweed, algae, and waterlilies. They also occasionally eat insects and invertebrates. Males and females work together to build a nest and both care for the eggs and chicks. The nests are built with a ramp leading into the water so chicks can easily get in and out. Because of their shorter wings, they have to make a running start on the top of the water in order to get enough lift to fly.

Fun Facts

Coots have lobed feet instead of webbed feet, which allows them to walk effectively on muddy areas but also swim well.