American Coot is a very common summer resident, found in flocks on marshes and
sloughs throughout the state. A very adaptable bird, American Coots may
also be seen waddling awkwardly in fields and lawns adjacent to water
bodies. They are not graceful fliers either, requiring a long
"running" start to get airborne, pattering their feet on the surface of the
Habitat: Marshes and sloughs,
preferably those that also have adjacent open water. Also may feed on dry
Diet: Omnivorous, eating aquatic
plants, grasses, seeds, insects, earthworms, small fish, tadpoles, snails, eggs,
and fruits and berries.
Behavior: Feeds both in the water and on land.
In the water, they may act like dabbling ducks, upending in shallow water,
or may dive underwater. They will also readily forage on land near
Nesting: May through July. The nest of an
American Coot is a floating nest of wetland vegetation such as bulrushes and
cattails. The female lays between 4 and 11 eggs, and both parents help to
incubate them. When the eggs hatch, the young leave the nest within hours,
following the parents who feed them. The young fledge after about 7 weeks.
Migration: Summers throughout much of North America. Northern populations migrate
south in the winter (including those in South Dakota).
Conservation Status: Has declined throughout much of its range
due to wetlands loss. However, they are still common to abundant where habitat is
IUCN lists the American Coot as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell University's "All About Birds - American Coot"
Photo Information: May 27th, 2007 - Atkin's Slough in
Lincoln County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution American Coot photos.