Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)

Least Concern

American Coot (Fulica americana)


French: Foulque d’Amérique German: Amerikanisches Blässhuhn Spanish: Focha americana
Other common names: Caribbean Coot (“caribaea”)

Fulica americana

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

North America


Sometimes considered to include F. alai and F. ardesiaca as races; closely related to these, and to F. cristata, F. atra and F. leucoptera. Proposed race grenadensis (from Grenada, in Lesser Antilles) included in nominate. “Caribbean Coot F. caribaea” (given species status in HBW) now judged to be a S morph of present species on basis of information published#R#R and online#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. a. americana J. F. Gmelin, 1789 – SE Alaska E across S Canada to Nova Scotia, and S to West Indies (Bahamas, Cuba, I of Pines and Jamaica E & S to Lesser Antilles and coast of Venezuela), Nicaragua and Costa Rica; winters W to Hawaii and S to Panama.
  • F. a. columbiana Chapman, 1914 – E Andes in C Colombia; formerly also in N Ecuador#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    34–43 cm; male 576–848 (742) g, female 427–628 (560) g, unsexed 340–700 (563) g; wingspan 60–70 cm. Differs from American congeners in having... read more


    Loquacious; has variety of cackling and clucking notes, often repeated. Alarm call of male “... read more


    Reed-fringed lakes and ponds, open marshes and sluggish rivers; also estuaries and bays. Nominate... read more

    Food and feeding

    Principally aquatic vegetation, mostly submerged plants, especially Chara and other algae, Potamogeton, Lemna,... read more


    North America, Apr–Jul (peak Apr–May), winter breeding reported in Florida; breeds May–Jun and Sept–Oct in Virgin... read more


    Mainly migratory, especially in North America E of Rocky Mts. Many apparently migrate to larger N... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In North America considered abundant and is a game species; annual harvest over last 3–4 decades averaged c. 8000 birds in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B., Kirwan, G.M. & Christie, D.A. (2020). American Coot (Fulica americana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).