As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent some time this summer in a few Rainwater Basin marshes surveying breeding birds. Arguably the most common breeding species I observed was the American Coot. My forays into the marsh allowed me to observe this species during its breeding cycle, from combative territorial squabbles between pairs to awkward chicks taking their first swim. Coots are often referred to as mudhens. They are duck-like, but they are not ducks. They are members of the rail family and are more closely related to Sandhill Cranes than to Mallards. American Coots are under-appreciated and often ignored, unfortunately. In an effort to raise their profile, I am providing a series of shots showing different aspects of American Coots breeding cycle.