Appearance The American coot is a bird species often mistaken for a duck. Upon closer inspection, it's easy to tell the animals apart because coots have smaller heads and lack webbed feet. The plump, dark gray birds have black heads, a distinctive white beak, white frontal shields on their foreheads, and small eyes that range in color from red to orange to brown. Where Coots Live Beyond their appearance, coots are commonly mistaken for ducks because they are found in many of the same places. Coots like living near water and thrive in a variety of wetlands, including freshwater lakes, ponds, marshes, and even ditches and culverts. Since they're not picky about their habitat, they can easily end up living on private properties near lakes, ponds, and even golf courses with water hazards. Problems and Control Coots are very vocal, social birds, creating noise concerns when they raise their voices in unison. They also have short tempers and easily become aggressive, often when protecting nesting areas and other times for no apparent reason at all. Their proclivity for gathering in large groups creates significant waste, which quickly becomes an odorous, unsanitary nuisance. To rein in out-of-control coot populations, contact the wildlife professionals at Critter Control.