The American Coot is a bird commonly seen in wetlands and open water bodies. About 40 cm in length and weighing 0.65 kg. Adults have a short thick white bill and white frontal shield, which usually has a reddish-brown spot near the top of the bill between the eyes.
From up close, a dark band can be distinguished at the bill-tip. The body is grey with the head and neck darker than the rest of the body. Their legs are yellowish, with scalloped toes rather than webbed feet. Their chicks have black bodies with bright red head and beak, and orange plumes around the neck. The call is a high-pitched squeaking honk somewhat like a goose's but more hollow sounding.
These birds are frequently seen swimming in open water. They can dive for food but can also forage on land. American Coots are omnivorous, eating plant material, arthropods, fish, and other aquatic animals. They nest in a well-concealed location in tall reeds. Coots are fairly aggressive in defense of their eggs and, in combination with their protected nesting habitat, this undoubtedly help reduce losses of eggs and young to all but most determined and effective predator.
The Common Coot is a member of the rail and crake bird family. The Australian subspecies is known as the Australian Coot whereas American sub species is known as American Coot.
The Coot breeds across much of the Old World on freshwater lakes and ponds. It occurs and breeds in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The species has recently expanded its range into New Zealand. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but migrates further south and west from much of Asia in winter as the waters freeze.
The Coot is 42 cm long, and is largely black except for the white facial shield. As a swimming species, the Common Coot has partial webbing on its long strong toes.
The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult black plumage develops when about 4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.
The Coot is an omnivore, and will take a variety of small live prey including the eggs of other water birds, as well as algae, vegetation, seeds and fruit. It shows considerable variation in its feeding techniques, grazing on land or in the water. In the water it may upend in the fashion of a Mallard or dive in search of food.
The Grey-headed Swamphen is a chicken-sized bird, with its huge feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is unmistakable in its native range.
There are 13 or more subspecies of the Purple Swamphen which differ mainly in plumage color. European birds are overall purple-blue, African and south Asian birds have a green back, and Australasian and Indonesian birds have black backs and heads.
The Grey-headed Swamphens are generally seasonal breeders, but the season varies across their large range, correlating with peak rainfall in many places, or summer in more temperate climes. The Grey-headed Swamphen breeds in warm reed beds. The male has an elaborate courtship display, holding water weeds in his bill and bowing to the female with loud chuckles. In the western parts of the range the pattern of social behaviour tends to be monogamy, but cooperative breeding groups are more common in the eastern parts of the range. These groups may consist of multiple females and males sharing a nest or a male female pair with helpers drawn from previous clutches.
The White-breasted Waterhen is a waterbird of the rail and crake family Rallidae that is widely distributed across South and Southeast Asia. They are dark slaty birds with a clean white face, breast and belly. They are somewhat bolder than most other rails and are often seen stepping slowly with their tail cocked upright in open marshes or even drains near busy roads. They are largely crepuscular in activity and during the breeding season after the first rains make loud and persistent croaky calls.
Adult White-breasted Waterhens have mainly dark grey upperparts and flanks, and a white face, neck and breast. The lower belly and undertail are cinnamon coloured. The body is flattened laterally to allow easier passage through the reeds or undergrowth. They have long toes, a short tail and a yellow bill and legs. Sexes are similar, but immature birds are much duller versions of the adults. The downy chicks are black, as with all rails.
Several subspecies are named for the populations that are widely distributed. The nominate subspecies is described from Sri Lanka but is often widened to include chinensis of mainland India and adjoining regions in Asia, west to Arabia and east nearly to Japan. The remaining subspecies are those from islands and include insularis of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, midnicobaricus of the central Nicobars, leucocephala of Car Nicobar, maldivus of the Maldives, javanicus of Java and leucomelanus of Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas.