American coots are sometimes hunted for sport, but they are usually not considered good eating. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. The Birds of North America, No. It is thought that this may give them better 3 dimensional vision. The American Coot is commonly found in Tennessee during migration and during the winter, with the greatest numbers in the state from October through April. 2000. Habitat: Open bodies of water including lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Both adults construct a nest of about 35cm across. The American coot is a black or dark gray ducklike member of the rail family. Song is a series of chickenlike notes and grating and crying sounds, louder and less nasal than common gallinule. Nestling American coots have blackish down feathers above and orange hairlike feathers around the neck. Look for American coots on lakes, marshes, ponds, rivers, and swamps. Diet: Mainly eats aquatic plants and algae, also some terrestrial vegetation, aquatic invertebrates, and vertebrates. Nesting and reproduction: American Coots will build several "dummy" nests that are used during courtship and for brooding young. Adults have a black head and neck, an ivory-white bill with a black ring near the end, and yellowish green legs with lobed feet. We protect and manage the fish, forest, and wildlife of the state. American coots weave vegetation into shallow nests that float on water, attached to upright plant stalks. of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. A. Knopf, New York, NY. Nest (built by both sexes) is floating platform of dead cattails, bulrushes, sedges, lined with finer materials, anchored to standing plants. Status in Tennessee: The American Coot is a common migrant and winter resident across the state, and a rare summer resident. The young are covered with down and are able to leave the nest within hours of hatching. American coots are omnivorous, feeding on a large variety of aquatic and terrestrial vegetation and foraging for a variety of invertebrates and other small animals. The young are covered with down and are able to leave the nest within hours of hatching. It can be distinguished from all ducks by its conical, white bill and white shield on the forehead. Don’t underestimate the impact of grazers. Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for 21 to 25 days. Rare winter resident, with most birds reported in southern Missouri. Most people know a bird when they see one — it has feathers, wings, and a bill. Though present year round, most individuals are found in the state from early September through early May. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. Nicholson, C. P. 1997. In their wetland habitats, their bodies absorb environmental pollutants, and researchers use them as a way of gauging the amount and types of pollutants in the environment. It is considered a game species in the state, but is likely seldom taken by hunters. They also build a similar nest to brood the young after hatching. The American coot is a highly gregarious species, particularly in the winter, when its flocks can number in the thousands. Univ. Nest site is among tall marsh vegetation in shallow water. The outside of the under tail feathers is white. Robinson J. C. 1990. Brisbin, I. L., Jr., H. D. Pratt, and T. B. Mobray. The American Coot has webbed toes rather than webbed feet like a duck, yet it is an excellent swimmer and diver. Similar species: The common gallinule (until recently considered the common moorhen) is a rare migrant and locally rare summer resident usually in big river floodplains. Although it floats like a duck, the American coot is actually in the rail family. Find local MDC conservation agents, consultants, education specialists, and regional offices. The American coot has a chickenlike walk and toes with distinctly scalloped lobes. There are nest records from East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The American coot migrates north from February through May and begins nesting within two weeks of its arrival. Though present year round, most individuals are found in the state from early September through early May. of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN. They require stable water levels during nesting season. Coots frequently bob their heads when swimming or walking. Status in Tennessee: The American Coot is a common migrant and winter resident across the state, and a rare summer resident. The oldest American Coot recorded in the wild was 22 years and 4 months old. American coots are diurnal social birds that live in flocks, and are the only rail family members to live in groups. Birds lay hard-shelled eggs (often in a nest), and the parents care for the young. Though they seem to only nibble, a group of them steadily nipping at plants can eat a staggering amount of vegetation over time. When swimming on the water surface, American coots exhibit a variety of interesting collective formations, including single-file lines, high density synchronized swimming and rotational dynamics, broad arcing formations, and sequential take-off dynamics. 2002. In winter, it is found in open water from the northern United States southward. Many migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. Rare summer resident in marshes with nesting numbers fluctuating greatly between high- and low-precipitation years. Dynamic map of American Coot eBird observations in Tennessee. They will remain in their parent's territory for at least 7 weeks. American coots can live for more than 20 years. In winter, it is found in open water from the northern United States southward. Coots occur in wetlands, preferring marshes dominated by robust emergent vegetation interspersed with water. A clutch usually contains 8-12 eggs, which are incubated for 23-25 days. Many communicate with songs and calls. The adult resembles a coot but has a red, yellow-tipped bill and a red facial shield.
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