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Mud hen (Fulica americana)—Ben Goldstein/Root Resources
Any of 10 species of ducklike waterbirds (genus Fulica) in the rail family. Coots are found worldwide in larger inland waters and streams, where they swim and bob for food, mostly plants, seeds, mollusks, and worms. They have greenish or bluish gray feet, with toes fringed by a lobed membrane that helps them swim and walk over marshes. The short conical beak is topped by a flattened, fleshy shield that extends onto the forehead. The European coot is about 18 in. (45 cm) long and weighs 2 lbs (900 g). The coot of North America resembles the European species.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on coot, visit Britannica.com.