The American coot might be better known to some as a “mud hen” or “helldiver.” After viewing this video, posted on YouTube by the Delta Waterfowl organization, a new nickname, “duck killer,” seems in order.
Though the coot swims like a duck, it’s actually a member of the Rallidae family, which includes rails and gallinules. It enjoys an expansive range that includes every one of the 48 contiguous states, at least during some part of the year, as well as a big part of Canada during the breeding season. It also has a reputation for aggressiveness, toward its own kind and other birds.
This clip was part of the conservation organization’s attempt to determine the types of predators that attack nesting canvasback ducks in Manitoba. What they caught on tape, however, was an American coot—presumably displaying territorial defense behavior—destroying canvasback eggs and attempting to attack a brood of ducklings.