The American Coot breeds throughout Canada, excluding the Arctic. In the United States it breeds from the Great Lakes to the mid-west. It also has a year round range; on the west coast from southern British Columbia to Central America, in Florida, and in the Caribbean. In Alberta they are found wherever the appropriate habitat exists, more commonly in the parkland, boreal forest, and grasslands regions.
In the winter, outside of their extensive year round range, they migrate to the west coast of British Columbia and southern Alaska, Baja California, Central America, and the American Southeast. The preferred breeding habitat, like the rest of the rail family is freshwater marshes with cattails and sedges. More like ducks, they prefer areas adjacent to open water. Although their feet are unwebbed, each toe has lobes to aid in swimming. When approached they screech an alarm cry and scurry to cover. In smaller water bodies with young that can't escape, the parents will boldly approach sounding an alarm call.
The diet is primarily green plant material and seeds, with lesser aquatic invertebrates.
The nest is a shallow saucer shaped mat constructed of reeds and sedges that often float within the marsh edge. To accommodate the large broods, the pair construct several nests or brood platforms. The female lays 2-22 buff eggs with dark brown spots, which the pair incubate for 23-24 days. The young fledge at 49-56 days. Occasionally two broods are produced.
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Where to find American Coots in Alberta
There is currently no information regarding this species in our Where & When database.