American Coot Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Fairly large, duck-like waterbird with short wings
   and a short tail
- Very short, thick bill
- Frequently seen both swimming and walking
- Often flicks and cocks short tail while walking,
   exposing white outer undertail coverts
- Sexes similar
- Toes have lobed webbing, unlike gallinules

- White bill with dark reddish ring just before tip
- White frontal shield with reddish oval near tip
- Slate gray head, neck, back, upperwings, breast
   and belly

- Lacks the frontal shield of the adult
- Horn-colored bill may lack ring near tip
- Pale gray-brown head, neck, upperwings, breast and
   back; feathers on underparts often with paler edges

Similar species

Common Moorhen is of similar size and shape but has a reddish bill with a yellowish tip, a white stripe along the flanks, and a brownish back.
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