This small slate gray duck-like bird with a white beak is often mistaken for a duck because it is seen in and around our waterways. But if you look closer at its feet when it walks out of the water you will see this bird lacks the webbed feet that ducks have. It is the America coot. The coot’s big feet have toes that are lobed and this that enables it to swim as well as any duck in the pond.
American coots inhabit our lakes and ponds throughout the U.S. I have seen it on the Connetquot River on Long Island, on an oasis in the Mojave Desert in Nevada and here on the lakes in Florida. Where you see one, you will see more, because they often travel in small flocks. Coots eat aquatic vegetation and insects, tadpoles and crayfish.
The next time you see what looks like a duck in a lake, don’t jump to the assumption that it is a duck. It could be one of the other water birds that live in the same waters.