May 15, 2009 by  
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Bird Species C-E

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American Coot (Fulica americana)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Fulica Americana or otherwise known as the American coot is a common water bird, family of the Rallidae, and is about 12 inches in length with a wingspan of 25 inches. It is quite a large bird with relatively short wings and tail, and can often be seen swimming and diving in ponds or dams of water. When the American coot goes walking about it often flicks and cocks its short tail, revealing a white under tail. The bill is short and thick and the legs are yellow in color with toes that have lobed webbing. When you look at both the male and female you won’t notice much difference in appearance between the sexes.

There are quite a few differences between the adult and the juvenile. The adult bird has a beautiful white bill with a dark, reddish oval near the base of the bill than not lacks the ring near the tip. The adult’s head, neck, breast, back, and upper wings is a dark gray, brown color with the feathers on the under-belly being slightly lighter. The juvenile on the other hand, is a paler gray-brown color on the breast and back, upper wings and on the under parts of the bird. It has a bright red head and beak with orange colored plumes that come off the neck.

Another bird that is a similar species is the common Moorhen. It is similar in size and shape to the American coot but its bill is reddish in colour with a yellowish tip. It also has a white stripe on its flank and a brown back. The American coot is often mistaken for a duck, although its black body and white triangular beak, which looks similar to a chicken, makes it more easily distinguishable from a real duck. The bird sound of the American coot is a scratchy clucking noise followed by a row of “kuk-kuk-kuk” notes.

Their breeding grounds are in marshes from the southern part of Quebec to the Pacific coast of North America, and then as far south as the north part of South America. They choose a nesting area in between tall reeds in a well-concealed area. If water is available to the birds throughout winter then they will not migrate, but if this is not the case they will migrate to northern areas or to southern British Columbia and United States.

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is found almost worldwide and it is very adaptable to its environment, living in desert, tropical rainforest and polar regions. Also known as the Common Gallinule in North America, this bird tends to favour well-vegetated lakes as breeding environments. The birds are usually reclusive, but have been known be become quite tame in certain areas. Those that live in areas where lakes and other bodies of water tend to freeze over in winter generally migrate to more temperate parts of the globe during the colder months.

This bird has quite distinctive markings. The adult’s head, neck, breast and belly are slate grey while its bill is red with a yellow tip. There is a red frontal shield above the bill and the upperwings are a brownish color. The upper flank has a clearly visible white stripe, while the feet are a greenish yellow. Interestingly, while a juvenile has many of the same characteristics, it has somewhat less color on its body and wings. The head and underparts are a pale gray-brown while the upperparts are a dark-grey brown. The bill is not yet bright red, though the stripe on the flanks and other colouring is more or less present. The average Common Moorhen has a body length of 10.5 inches and a wingspan of 21 inches. The wings and tail are fairly short in comparison to other duck-like waterbirds and the bill is thick and short. They are comfortable in the air, on the water and on land and the sexes are similar in appearance.

The Common Moorhen makes its nest on the ground in amongst dense vegetation. Their nests take the form of a roofed basket and they may lay between 8-12 eggs in it. Both parents work hard to incubate the eggs over a period of 3 weeks and then they take it in turns to feed the young. They are capable of producing more than one brood in a year and so, despite certain environmental changes and other negative conditions, the bird has been able to remain fairly common and widespread.