|Conservation status||Very common in parts of its normal range, but could be vulnerable to loss of wetland habitat.|
|Habitat||Marshes, overgrown ponds. In the tropics, found on wide variety of shallow freshwater ponds and lake margins, especially those with much floating vegetation. In United States, has occurred mostly in Texas, on large fresh ponds surrounded by extensive marsh and with floating plants such as lily pads, water hyacinth.|
Forages by walking about on mats of floating vegetation, picking insects from surface of plants or water, sometimes from just below water's surface. Also forages on mud or open ground near water.
Usually 4, sometimes 3-5. Almost round; brown, scrawled with black lines. Incubation is by male only, 22-24 days. During hot part of day, male will shade eggs from sun (female occasionally shades eggs also). Young: Downy young leave nest within 1-2 days after hatching. Male tends young and leads them to feeding sites, but young feed themselves; male broods young during rain or cool weather. Female sometimes accompanies or broods young, but always far less than male. Age at first flight about 4 weeks.
Downy young leave nest within 1-2 days after hatching. Male tends young and leads them to feeding sites, but young feed themselves; male broods young during rain or cool weather. Female sometimes accompanies or broods young, but always far less than male. Age at first flight about 4 weeks.
Mostly insects. Diet in Texas not well known. In Costa Rica, reported to feed almost entirely on insects; occasionally eats small fish.
One female may have up to 4 mates; she lays eggs in separate nests for each, and males do almost all the work of incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Nest site is on top of marsh vegetation, either standing or floating, in shallow water. Nest (built by male) is a flimsy and simple open cup made of available plant material; male continues to add to nest during incubation period.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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No regular migration, but wanders irregularly. Seems to stray into Texas most often after a series of seasons with good rainfall have created much good habitat in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas. Has also strayed to Arizona, possibly Florida.
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Songs and CallsVarious high-pitched squeaking and bickering notes.
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