American Coot

black bird

Photo: Creative Commons

Many people confuse the American Coot with different species of ducks. In fact, Captain Lewis, when writing in March 1806 at Fort Clatsop, called the coot a “black duck.”

While they do resemble a duck, coots are actually members of the Rallidae family. But what makes them truly unique is their strange, yellow-green feet. (Take a close look at the photo.)

Lewis wrote: "... The black duck is about the size of the bluewinged teal. their colour is a duskey black the breast and belley somewhat lighter than the other parts, or a dark brown. the legs stand longitudinally with the body, and the bird when on shore stands of cours very erect. the legs and feet are of a dark brown, the toes are four on each foot, a short one at the heel and three long toes in front, which are unconnected with a web. the webs are attatched to each sides of the several joints of the toe, and divided by deep sinuses at each joint.”

Last updated: September 5, 2018