American Coot

photo by Phil Swanson

Fulica americana
L 15 1/2″ (39 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Low croaking and higher pitched cackles. Also “laughing” – “ka-ha-ha.”

Description: Sexes similar. Slate-black body and white bill with dark band near tip. Small reddish-brown forehead shield. White outer feathers of undertail coverts. Yellow-orangish legs, and toes are lobed. Juvenile is paler, with whiter feathers on underside.

american coot

Habitat: Wetlands, small ponds, large lakes, and reservoirs. Favor habitats with abundant submerged vegetation.

Where in Nebraska: Occurs across Nebraska, but more common in Sandhills. Will overwinter if open water is available. Regular breeder.

Field Notes: Often dive to the bottom of lakes and ponds to feed.

Fun Facts: The Amercian Coot does not have webbed feet like a duck, instead each toe has lobes on each side of the segment.

American Coot - photo by Phil Swanson American Coot - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
(click image for larger view)