October 24, 2015 – American Coot (Fulica americana)

Requested by: @tehbiglug

American Coots are found throughout much of North America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Though they are often seen around groups of ducks, these waterbirds are more closely related to rails and cranes. They feed on aquatic and terrestrial plants, along with some invertebrates and small vertebrates. Somewhat clumsy fliers, they usually need a running start to get into the air, flapping as they run along the water’s surface. They build nests of grass and reeds as floating platforms with small ramps to allow the chicks to climb in and out and often lay eggs in the nests of other coots and several similar species of waterbird.

Note: There are accounts of American Coots attacking their own chicks as a response to heavy nest parasitism, however, I can’t find enough information on the subject to be comfortable putting this in the main description.