• Peak Breeding Activity: May-June
• Incubation: 23 days
• Clutch Size: 8-10 eggs
• Typical foods: omnivorous; aquatic animals (fish or tadpoles), insects, and vegetation
The American coot has a dark, slate gray body. The bill is ivory-colored and chicken-like. The frontal shield is also white with a reddish upper edge. The head and neck are black and the tail feathers short and stubby. Its feet are lobed instead of webbed.
Habitat and Habits
Coots live in the shallows of freshwater lakes, ponds, or marshes. This species is not nearly as shy as its rail brethren, and often swims out in the open like a duck. Coots can create quite a cacophony, and along with common moorhens, are responsible for many of the strange, jungle-like sounds that come from the marshes. They commonly deliver harsh, chicken-like clucks; female calls are lower-pitched than males.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Breeding occurs in May and June. The male and female work together to build a nest among the reed cover at the edge of a pond. The parents also share in the responsibilty of feeding and teaching the young, who are fully independent after two months.