Look again, that small black bird on the lake is not a duck at all! The American Coot has a small head with a white bill and forehead, and is frequently seen mixed in with ducks and geese on lakes and ponds throughout the year. A member of the rail family, the American Coot isn’t as shy as its cousins, feeding plainly in sight on aquatic vegetation by diving or feeding with his head underwater, similar to other waterfowl. Somewhat awkward-looking on land, coots must run across long stretches of water to take flight. They build floating nests from plant material, and the young can swim right after they hatch.