Baltidome Blog | Baltimore Green News

American Coots Visit The Inner Harbor

American Coots Visit The Inner Harbor

If you’ve walked around the Inner Harbor lately, you may have noticed a different waterbird than those usually found there -an American Coot.  The American Coot (Fulica americana) exists year round in western parts of the U.S., where water is consistently habitable, but in the East, they are generally observed only in fall and winter during migration.

This dark gray to black shorebird is commonly mistaken for a duck, however, it’s slightly curved, chicken-like bill reveals that it belongs to the rail family of birds. The American Coot is often regarded as “noisy” due to its short repetitive squawks and noted as ungraceful, from their awkward landings and take offs.

Researchers at Stanford report “Coots are among the least graceful of marsh birds. Commonly called ‘splatterers,’ they scramble across the surface of the water with wings flapping not only to confront intruders but also to become airborne” and “Appearing somewhat like aquatic pigeons, coots also bob their heads while swimming.”

The American Coot is also “renowned for the aggressiveness with which it repels intruders, the male American coot marks its territory by patrolling, charging and water splashing, but on occasions fighting ensues, and it will viciously attack trespassers by striking with the bill and slashing with the claws” (