Juvenile American Coots

Although I once again followed several bird nests this season, I did not report on the progress from eggs to fledglings, since that would basically repeat posts from previous years. However, many avian parents are now boldly introducing their offspring to the world. In the next few days I will share some of the juveniles in our area.

An American coot (Fulica americana) juvenile is paler that its parent and exhibits more whitish underparts and a dusky bill. The coot chick is black above, grey below and has a bright red bill with a black tip. The chick also has curly orange and yellow fluff on its forehead, blue skin above the eye and red skin on the crown. The orange down on the chick’s head turns greyish with age. These young coots have lost their orange, blue and red head coloring but still retain their reddish beak.

American coots weave shallow baskets lined with soft material for their clutch of eight to twelve eggs. The nest is generally a floating platform anchored to stalks amid vegetation. After 23-25 days the chicks hatch and can leave the nest in about six hours. Throughout the spring and early summer adults will continue to feed the young.

In these pictures taken on Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park (CA)  an adult is feeding its young. Also, if one looks closely, the brownish-red spot on the adult’s frontal shield (the part of the bill that extends up to cover the forehead) is visible. The aquatic plants are water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia).

More information on American coots may be found in these prior posts: American coot, Where Have All the . . . Coots Gone? and Unusual Meal.

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