Fulica americana - Gmelin, 1789
American Coot
Other English Common Names: American coot
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Fulica americana Gmelin, 1789 (TSN 176292)
French Common Names: foulque d'Amérique
Spanish Common Names: Gallareta Americana
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103406
Element Code: ABNME14020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 11087

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Gruiformes Rallidae Fulica
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Fulica americana
Taxonomic Comments: Includes Andean Fulica ardesiaca, which sometimes has been treated as a separate species. Possibly conspecific with F. caribaea (AOU 1983, Banks 1995). Hawaiian population was regarded as a distinct species (F. alai) by Pratt et al. (1987).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 25Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N4N5N,N5M (16Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2B,S5N), Alaska (S2B,S2N), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S5), California (SNR), Colorado (S5B,S4N), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (S1B), District of Columbia (S2N), Florida (SNRB,SNRN), Georgia (S4), Idaho (S4B,S4N), Illinois (S4), Indiana (S4B,S2N), Iowa (S5B,S5N), Kansas (S3B,S5N), Kentucky (S1B), Louisiana (S3S4B,S5N), Maine (S2?B), Maryland (S3N), Massachusetts (SXB,S3N), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S5B,S5N), Missouri (SNRB,SNRN,SNRM), Montana (S5B), Navajo Nation (S5), Nebraska (SNRN), Nevada (S5), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (S4B,S4N), New Mexico (S5B,S5N), New York (S3), North Carolina (S5N), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S2), Oklahoma (S3S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S3B,S3N), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SHB,SNRN), South Dakota (S5B), Tennessee (S2B), Texas (S4B,S5N), Utah (S5), Vermont (SUB), Virginia (S1B,S5N), Washington (S4B,S4N), West Virginia (S1B,S3N), Wisconsin (S3S4B), Wyoming (S5B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5B), British Columbia (S4B), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S1S2B,S1S2M), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (S3S4B), Nova Scotia (S1B), Ontario (S4B), Prince Edward Island (S1B), Quebec (S4), Saskatchewan (S5B), Yukon Territory (S3B)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Not at Risk (01Apr1991)
Comments on COSEWIC: This is a widespread species, with large population size and no evidence of decline. Designated Not at Risk in April 1991.
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: east-central Alaska (casual), southern Yukon east through central Manitoba to Prince Edward Island, south locally to southern Baja California, Gulf Coast, Florida, Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica, West Indies (not Puerto Rico or Virgin Islands). WINTERS: Pacific coast, and north to the southwestern U.S., lower Ohio Valley, and Maryland, south throughout Middle America, southeastern U.S., and West Indies to Panama and probably Colombia. RESIDENT in Hawaii and in South America in the Andes from Colombia south to western Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwestern Argentina. (AOU 1983). Birds from North America apparently are regularly present as nonbreeding visitors in Hawaii (Pratt 1987).

Short-term Trend Comments: In the northern Great Plains region, populations fluctuate with precipitation levels but essentially are stable; apparently has declined in Ontario due to loss of habitat; breeding population appears to have increased recently in British Columbia (Lang 1991).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: BREEDS: east-central Alaska (casual), southern Yukon east through central Manitoba to Prince Edward Island, south locally to southern Baja California, Gulf Coast, Florida, Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica, West Indies (not Puerto Rico or Virgin Islands). WINTERS: Pacific coast, and north to the southwestern U.S., lower Ohio Valley, and Maryland, south throughout Middle America, southeastern U.S., and West Indies to Panama and probably Colombia. RESIDENT in Hawaii and in South America in the Andes from Colombia south to western Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwestern Argentina. (AOU 1983). Birds from North America apparently are regularly present as nonbreeding visitors in Hawaii (Pratt 1987).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MAextirpated, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT New Haven (09009)
DE Kent (10001)*, New Castle (10003)
ID Ada (16001), Bear Lake (16007), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Bonner (16017), Bonneville (16019), Boundary (16021), Camas (16025), Canyon (16027), Caribou (16029), Cassia (16031), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Fremont (16043), Gooding (16047), Idaho (16049), Jefferson (16051), Kootenai (16055), Nez Perce (16069), Owyhee (16073), Power (16077), Teton (16081)
KY Union (21225), Warren (21227)*
NJ Bergen (34003), Gloucester (34015), Hudson (34017)
PA Butler (42019), Crawford (42039), Erie (42049), Lawrence (42073), Mercer (42085)
VT Addison (50001), Orleans (50019)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+*
04 Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+, St. Francois River (04150500)+
05 Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+, Shenango (05030102)+, Connoquenessing (05030105)+, Barren (05110002)+*, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+
16 Bear Lake (16010201)+
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Lower Henrys (17040203)+, Teton (17040204)+, Willow (17040205)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Raft (17040210)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Big Lost (17040218)+, Camas (17040220)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Middle Owyhee (17050107)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Middle Snake-Payette (17050115)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+*, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+, Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: A dark henlike bird with a blackish head and neck, slate body (paler in juveniles), and a frontal shield that usually is small and maroon or dark brown (may become bulbous at peak of breeding season; a few have a white frontal shield); undertail coverts white on the sides, black in the middle; white trailing edge on wings; whitish bill; large feet with lobed toes (NGS 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from gallinules in having lobed toes and lacking red on the bill; lacks the white line on the sides of the common moorhen. Differs from Caribbean coot in having a smaller forehead shield that is reddish-brown instead of white or white tinged with yellow (some American coots have an extensively white forehead shield). Differs from Eurasian coot in being slightly smaller and paler and having the undertail coverts black and white rather than all black; also the forehead shield is reddish-brown forehead shield instead of all white.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is 6-22 (most often 8-12 in North America; average about 6 in Hawaii). Incubation lasts 23-24 days, by both sexes. Young are tended by both parents, though brood may be divided between them. First flies probably at 7-8 weeks. Usually renests if first clutch is destroyed (Condor 95:273-281); easily able to produce many additional eggs (Auk 109:407-421).
Ecology Comments: Nonbreeding: often in groups (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Generally arrives in northern breeding areas March-May, departs by October-November (in portion of range in which it is migratory, especially northern inland areas) (Bent 1926). Migrants arrive in Costa Rica generally by October, most depart by end of April (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Herbaceous wetland, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river, Tidal flat/shore
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Habitat Comments: Freshwater lakes, ponds, marshes, and larger rivers, wintering also on brackish estuaries and bays. Also on land bordering these habitats. Calm open water with plenty of algae and other aquatic vegetation (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Typically builds floating nest among marsh plants in 30-100 cm of water (Harrison 1979). In south-central Saskatchewn, nesting habitat and reproductive effort and success were greatly reduced during drought (Sutherland 1991).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats seeds, roots, and other plant material, insects, snails, small fishes, tadpoles, and other small organism; feeds on land and in water (at surface, by tipping up, and by diving) (Terres 1980).
Length: 39 centimeters
Weight: 724 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Hunted in almost every state (Eddleman et al. 1988).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Coots and Moorhens

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Dispersal distances from natal sites to subsequent nesting areas are unknown (Bannor and Kiviat 2002, Brisbin et al. 2002) but likely considerable. Migratory American coot populations apparently do not exhibit strong fidelity to breeding areas (see Brisbin et al. 2002). Separation distance is arbitrary. Occurrences do not necessarily represent discrete populations or metapopulations.
Date: 20Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Notes: Includes species in the general FULICA, GALLINULA, and PORPHYRULA.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 10 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Arbitrary separation distance; occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 28Oct2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14Dec1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.

  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des oiseaux du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 13 pages.

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  • Banks, R. C. 1995. Taxonomic Validation for Bird Species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Category 2 Species List. In Biological Survey Project, Patuxent Environmental Research Center, National Biological Service (compilers). Taxonomic Review of Category 2 Species.

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  • Nicholson, C.P. 1997. Atlas of the breeding birds of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press. 426 pp.

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  • Pérez-Arteaga, A. and K. J. Gaston. 2004. Status of American Coot Fulica americana (Gruiformes: Rallidae) wintering in Mexico. Acta Zoologica Mexicana (new series) 20:253-263.

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  • See SERO listing

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