Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Common in the West.
HABITAT: Inhabits small, shallow wetlands, including areas with alkaline waters, but may also be found around larger and deeper lakes. Winters primarily on freshwaters, though occasionally found in marine habitats.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shallow lake margins, ponds bordered by tule and grasses, sloughs, marshes, sluggish streams, reservoirs, and irrigation ditches.
NEST: Nests on the ground in dense grasses under 2 feet high, in cattails or reeds near water, or in a hollow in the ground, often 100 feet or more from water. Broods may be moved as far as a mile from the nest site to good brood cover of lush emergent vegetation adjacent to water with abundant food.
FOOD: Feeds by tipping up in shallow water, grazes in grass and in fields, or probes in mud for its food, which is 80 percent vegetative. Primarily consumes seeds and vegetative parts of pondweeds, bulrushes, sedges, smartweeds and grasses; also takes mollusks and insects.
REFERENCES: Bellrose 1976, Grinnell and Miller 1944, Johnsgard 1975b, Low and Mansell 1983, Palmer 1976a, Verner and Boss 1980.