American Coot Chick

Maybe it’s because the American Coot (Fulica americana) is the most abundant and widely distributed species of rail in North America that it gets no respect? I mean we see them everywhere, in almost any of a broad variety of wetlands, including freshwater lakes, ponds, marshes, roadside ditches, and industrial-waste impoundments, as well as in coastal marine habitats. As we come upon winter, we often find Coots in rafts of thousands!

American Coot Raft

Even if you don’t appreciate the American Coot adult, you have to love their hatchlings like the one in the featured image above and these little guys being fed by their parent at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

American Coot Feeding Young

But I think the adult Coot is a cool bird in its own right. Just look at that cool red iris…

American Coot

and the very cool lobed green feet!

They are somewhat awkward on land…

American Coot

and they must make a long running start on the water surface to get airborne…

American Coot Take Off

but all in all, I think they are a very handsome bird, from head…

American Coot

to tail.

American Coot

Plus, American Coots may be smarter than you think. Following is a video I shot of some Coots picking up the morsels brought to the surface by a few Ring-necked Ducks as the ducks dove for their meal.

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.