American Coot

Fulica americana

Although American Coots were on no one’s list of likely vagrants to the Bering Sea, one individual was discovered in the Salt Lagoon on October 23, 1998. There are two other western Alaska records, one of a dying bird on Unimak Island (December 10-14, 1943), and the other on the Alaska Peninsula on October 13, 1986. American Coots do not breed in Alaska and are regarded as rare winter visitors, mostly to the southern panhandle. If a visiting birder is fortunate enough to spot a Coot on the islands, check for the color of the undertail coverts, which are white in American Coot and black in Eurasian Coot. Also look for a dark forehead, as Eurasian Coots have a large white frontal shield.