Female coots will preferentially feed the young with the brightest plume feathers or “chick ornaments”. They are very territorial when nesting and may fight over their nesting territory. I did not know that they mated for life or had floating nests. Eggs are usually deposited between sunset and midnight. Once in flight, they are as graceful and beautiful as any other water bird.  Then, the female moves to the display platform and squats with her head under the water. , Coots resident in the Caribbean and Greater and Lesser Antilles lack the red portion of the frontal shield, and were previously believed to be a distinct species, the Caribbean coot (Fulica caribaea). Coots do not have webbed feet like ducks, they have large lobed toes which fold back as they step to help the when walking on dry land.  An American coot can be forced to hatch more eggs than are normally laid. In winter, they can be found as far south as Panama. It is often a year-round resident where water remains open in winter. Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 15, 2015: Thank you, Shauna! Thank you for stopping by and you kind comment! , The American coot can dive for food but can also forage and scavenge on land. This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 16:14. I love to watch American coots where I live. , Females deposit one egg a day until the clutch is complete. Juvenile coot swimming in a lake at dawn. POWERED BY MERLIN. I enjoyed reading about them very much. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub! , The American coot has a variety of repeated calls and sounds. When they walk, they walk more like a chicken than waddle like a duck. As the pair bond becomes more evident, both males and females will initiate billing only with each other and not other males or females. This handsome water bird is the American Coot. They prefer fresh water habitats but can be found in salt water habitats in winter months. American Coot "running" across the water, trying to take off in flight. Egg and brood nests are actually elaborate rafts, and must be constantly added to in order to stay afloat. Because the American coot’s nests are generally floating nests hidden among the reeds they are not as easily reached by land predators. They are members of the family Rallidae, genus fulica, which comes from the Latin word for “coot”, in this case the species is americana. Starting incubation before the entire clutch has been laid is an uncommon practice among birds. Experimental manipulation of chick ornamentation by clipping the bright plumes has shown that parents prefer ornamented chicks over non-ornamented ones. They will weigh between 1 and 2 pounds. , Coot fossils from the Middle Pleistocene of California have been described as Fulica hesterna but cannot be separated from the present-day American coot. When fighting, they will “rear up” and fight each other using their strong legs and large feet. Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 22, 2016: Yes, Audrey, they are remarkable animals. Their feet are bizarre to say the least! Birds are amazing and the more I watch them, the more I want to learn about them. , Much research has been done on the breeding habits of American coots.  First the male chases the female. A very well written and interesting hub. These birds are quite unique. These additional offspring, however, suffer higher mortality rates due to inadequacy in brooding or feeding ability. A member of the family Rallidae, it has three subspecies in addition to the nominate: Fulica americana alai, F. a. caribaea, and F. a. , Hatch order usually follows the same sequence as laying order. You can also see the frontal shield beginning to show up with the red spot barely visible. This brightly colored, exaggerated trait makes coot chicks more susceptible to predation and does not aid in thermoregulation, but remains selected for by parental choice.  The specific epithet americana means "America". However, there is no difference in clutch size between older and younger females as there is in other avian species. Juvenile American Coot. Chicks that do not match the imprinted cues are then recognized as parasite chicks and are rejected. :). Since American coots build on the water, their structures disintegrate easily and have short life spans. American coot (Fulica americana), juvenile, Kamloops, British Columbia A young Coot begs for food from it's parent that appears to be defensive against it's young. American crows, black-billed magpies and Forster's tern can sometime take eggs. Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 14, 2015: Sheila, I must admit, I never knew a coot was anything but an ornery old codger! Though commonly mistaken for ducks, American coots are only distantly related to ducks, belonging to a separate order. The coot would rather swim to avoid danger than to fly. They become adult-colored around 4 months of age. A juvenile Eurasian coot swimming and foraging in a city pond in the capital city of Berlin Germany. I love anything to do with nature and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on May 23, 2016: Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed my hub! In the American coot, two levels of androgen and testosterone variation have been discovered—within-clutch and among-clutch variation. There is an inverse relationship between egg weights and laying sequence, wherein earlier eggs are larger than eggs laid later in the sequence. This has been proven by researchers clipping some chick’s plumes and finding that the parents preferentially feed the brightest colored chicks first. Re-nested clutches are typically smaller than original clutches by one or two eggs, but this could be attributed to differences in time and habitat quality instead of food or nutrient reserves and availability. Males generally initiate billing, which is the touching of bills between individuals. , Autumn migration occurs from August to December, with males and non-breeders moving south before the females and juveniles. Coots, however, do not respond to experimental addition of eggs by laying fewer eggs. , The American coot has a mixed reproductive strategy, and conspecific brood parasitism is a common alternative reproductive method. The second is the egg nest and a third is used as a brood nest. After a pair bond is cemented, the mating pair looks for a territory to build a nest in. , The American coot's breeding habitat extends from marshes in southern Quebec to the Pacific coast of North America and as far south as northern South America. , The American coot measures 34–43 cm (13–17 in) in length with a wingspan of 58 to 71 cm (23 to 28 in). I had seen photos of them but never stopped to read. They become adult-colored around 4 months … :), Thank you, Alicia! Conversely, the bold behavior of immature and adult coots leads to them falling prey with relative regularity once out of the breeding season. In these species, the cost of accidentally misimprinting is greater than the benefits of rejecting parasite chicks. If one has the ability to read their actions, they are even more interesting. You managed to take some awesome photos of the American Coot. Males and females look alike, but females are smaller. , The American coot's genus name, Fulica, is a direct borrowing of the Latin word for "coot". Males and females look alike, with the females being a bit smaller. The American Coots are monogamous and mate for life. I am a blogger from Southern Oklahoma who loves to write about nature and animals. Male and female coots share incubation responsibility, but males do most of the work during the 21-day incubation period. Display platforms are used as roosting sites and are left to decompose after copulation. I will have to go back and fix the "credits". , Younger females reproduce later in the season and produce smaller eggs than older females. A pair bond becomes permanent when a nesting territory is secured.
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