Wednesday, November 24, 2010

American Coot

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I injured my back a few days ago and spent a lot of time on the sofa watching nature documentaries. I finished up Great Migrations and in the process noticed a neat looking little bird that apparently lives (for at least part of the year anyway) right in my proverbial back yard, though I've never seen one. I really feel like I need to take up bird watching. Hmm.

Anyway, the species in question is the American Coot (Fulica americana), a gregarious waterbird of the Rallidae family that can be found in just about every part of North America during some part of the year. Birds that reside in the Western United States and Mexico are residential, while other populations are migratory, heading up to Eastern Canada, the Midwest, and the American Northeast in order to breed.

American Coots spend their lives on or near water, though interestingly, they do not have webbed feet like ducks do. They swim and dive for their food, and they are very opportunistic feeders. American Coots eat both plant material, as well as other animals such as snails, tadpoles, and fish.

Young Coots are precocial, which means that they are able to swim and feed themselves very quickly after hatching. Parents build nests that float on the water, and females lay 6-11 eggs that are incubated by both the mother and father. They may build multiple nests, which are then used by the family to roost.

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