Throughout southern and western United States, south to Peru.
Mud flats, pools and grassy marshes. Found in shallow water, salt or fresh, with soft muddy bottom.
13 – 17 inches.
12 – 15 years.
Adult males have a glossy black back, wings, hind neck, crown, and ear with a white spot over the eyes. White on the underside. Females and immature birds have a more brownish back. All have long pink legs and a needle-like black bill. Both adults in turn incubate four eggs for about 25 days. Nestlings are precocial. Both adults tend young, which become independent in about 4 weeks and first fly at about 7 – 8 weeks.
Crustaceans, snails, beetles, caddisflies, mosquito larvae, grasshoppers and other insects. They also feed on some small fish as well as seeds of aquatic plants.
- Social. Found in groups of up to 50 individuals.
- Nest in small colonies. Build nests in depression in ground, frequently in grass.
- Prefer to wade in shallow pools, avoids deep water.
- Plucks food from surface of water or mud or probes in soft mud.
- Call is a monotonous series of loud piping sounds. Sounds like “yip-yip-yip-yip-yip”.
Protected nongame species