Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Locally common.
HABITAT: Primarily inhabits extensive coastal marshes with a good interspersion of ponds but is also found in rice fields and on ponds and stream banks in pasture and farmlands. In Florida, inhabits ponds and lakes of pine flatwoods, everglades, cultivated and fallow fields, fresh and brackish marshes, mangrove swamps, and baldcypress-watertupelo hummocks.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Freshwater and marine wetlands.
NEST: Builds a nest that is usually well concealed in a clump of grass, or on the ground under a bush, in meadows, generally within 500 feet of water. Prefers to nest near coastal marshes, but will also nest near ponds, bayous, or ditches. Is shy and sensitive to human disturbance.
FOOD: Feeds heavily on animal foods such as fish, crayfish, snails, and insects; also eats seeds of millet, rice, grasses, and aquatic plants.
REFERENCES: Beckwith and Hosford 1957, Bellrose 1976, Sincock et al. 1964, Singleton 1968.