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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:24 EDT

Caribbean Coot, Fulica caribaea

The Caribbean Coot, (Fulica caribaea), is a species of waterbird of the family Rallidae. It is found in the Caribbean and parts of Venezuela. There have been unconfirmed sightings of this bird in North America, which cannot be authenticated since some American Coots can resemble the Caribbean Coot. However, the Caribbean Coot has sometimes been considered a subspecies of the American Coot.

The adult Caribbean Coot is 13 to 15 inches long and has a short thick white bill with a reddish-brown spot near the tip and a white forehead shield. The body is gray with the head and neck darker than the rest of the body. The legs are yellow, with scalloped toes rather then webbed feet. One distinguishing factor that separates this species from the American Coot is the lack of red knobs at the top of its frontal shield that are found in the latter species.

Caribbean Coots either dive for their food or forage for it on land. They are omnivorous and will eat plant material, insects, fish, and other aquatic animals. Its call is a high-pitched squeaking honk somewhat like a goose. It can frequently be seen swimming in open water.

Its breeding habitats are freshwater lakes and marshes. The nest is typically built in shallow water. The female lays 4 to 8 speckled whitish-brown eggs.

Image Caption: Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea) at Laguna Cartagena, Lajas, Puerto Rico. Credit: Damian Ruiz/Wikipedia (CC Attribution 3.0)

Caribbean Coot Fulica caribaea