American Coot (Fulica americana)

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This page last updated on 02/17/2018
(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: The pictures shown here were taken floating around one of the ponds at Floyd Lamb Park in Las Vegas. The picture in (Figs. 02 & 03) was a shot of the all trying to get some of the bread that I was feeding them.
(Fig. 02)

Description: The American Coot is also known as a mud hen and is a bird of the family Rallidae. Though commonly mistaken to be ducks, American coots belong to a distinct order. It is a medium-sized, chicken-like swimming bird, dark gray to black overall, short, white bill and undertail coverts. Upper edge of frontal shield is red, but usually only visible at close range. Unlike the webbed feet of ducks, coots have broad, lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back with each step in order to facilitate walking on dry land. IIt has swift direct flight with rapid wing beats, feet protrude past tail. In taking flight they must patter across the water, flapping their wings furiously, before becoming airborne. Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds and live near water, typically inhabiting wetlands and open water bodies.They swim in the open like ducks and walk about on shore, making themselves at home on grassy areas and city park ponds. Usually in flocks, they are aggressive and noisy, making a wide variety of calls by day or night. They have strong legs and big feet with lobed toes, and coots fighting over territorial boundaries will rear up and attack each other with their feet. Often seen walking on open ground near ponds. The American coot is a migratory bird that occupies most of North America. It lives in the Pacific and southwestern United States and Mexico year-round and occupies more northeastern regions during the summer breeding season. In the winter they can be found as far south as Panama. Coots generally build floating nests and lay 8–12 eggs per clutch. American coots eat primarily algae and other aquatic plants but also animals (both vertebrates and invertebrates) when available.
(Fig. 03)

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