Eleven species occur worldwide; only the American coot (Fulica americana) is found in North America. Coots, often called mud hens, breed in the pothole marshes and sloughs of southern Canada and as far north as Great Slave Lake. Although a marsh dweller, the coot is conspicuous because, except when molting, it swims, dives and feeds in open water rather than confining itself to dense marsh thickets. Coots migrate in the evening and at night, wintering on lakes, brackish water and estuaries on the southern and eastern US coasts.
The American coot is a white-billed, slaty black chickenlike bird which bobs its head as it swims, picking bits of vegetation and animal life from the surface, occasionally diving for food. Its lobed toes are an adaptation to aquatic life. Its pugnacious behaviour helps ensure biological success
Coots lay 8-12 light brown eggs speckled with dark brown on a floating platform of marsh plants. Young are black with startling orange-red heads and shoulders.
Author E. KUYT
Links to Other Sites
All About Birds
Search this online bird identification guide for information on specific bird species found in North America. Click on the dynamic map of eBird sightings for a magnified view. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the US.
Canadian Biodiversity Website
A great information source for all budding biologists. Learn about biodiversity theory, natural history, and conservation issues. From McGill’s Redpath Museum.