Description Coots are migratory waterfowl often seen in the company of ducks and geese. They feed on aquatic plants, grass, algae, small fish, and crustaceans. During migration season they gather in large flocks known as commotions, that sometimes number upwards of 1,500 birds. Hunters do not generally consider coots viable food sources. Appearance Although similar in appearance to ducks with their plump, chicken-like bodies and strong feet, coots are well suited to walking on land and do not waddle as ducks do. The black birds have beady red eyes and distinctive white bills. Since they have short wings, coots are graceless fliers and must beat the air furiously while running across the water in order to take flight. Habitat Almost any area with open fresh water and vegetation will support coots. Preferred sites include ponds, wetlands, reservoirs, lakes, sewage treatment centers, and brackish marshes. While migrating, coots may become nuisances when they land in golf course water hazards or ponds in public parks. During nesting season, coots require habitats with shallow water and tall, dense thickets of reeds where to build their nests. Entry Are coots known to enter homes or yards? As waterfowl, coots prefer not to enter buildings. However, wide open spaces, such as golf courses and large yards with accessible ponds, make attractive nesting sites for coots. The birds are more agile on land than ducks and may be encountered in yards or fields as they search of food like worms, insects, grasses, seeds, and grains. Damage Do coots harm people or property? Coots contaminate water with their feces and cause damage to waterways, golf links, and agricultural areas. The birds dig up lawns in search of food and eat the grass on golf courses, fields, and yards. They are occasionally responsible for damage to crops and aquaculture facilities such as fisheries, as well. Though they are usually passive birds, coots become aggressive during mating season when they feel they must defend their nests. Control and Safety Property owners can deal with coots by frightening, harassing, and otherwise discouraging them from nesting in the area. Erecting fences around ponds may prove somewhat effective in containing the birds to the water. Additionally, maintaining vegetation in and around sources of water reduces the chances of attracting coots. Trapping and Removal Coots are protected birds. To avoid incurring federal offences, contact wildlife professionals to deal with nuisance populations of the pest. Critter Control specialists are trained to find humane and effective solutions to coot problems in residential and commercial areas.