Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Fairly common, but population levels fluctuate.
HABITAT: Inhabits marshlands, wet meadows, and in North America, primarily flooded agricultural land and rice fields. Does not ordinarily frequent woodlands. Loafs among dense bulrushes or far out on marshy ponds.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Broad, open marshlands.
NEST: Prefers to nest in rice fields on low, contour levees, as well as a few inches over water among rice plants and wood growing between levees. Also nests in bulrushes, in knotgrass and dense beds of cattails, on hummocks in marshes, at the edge of ponds and swamps, or in rank tall grasses of wet meadows; rarely in tree cavities.
FOOD: Feeds primarily at night, walking about on land gleaning seeds of grasses and weeds. Also tips up in shallow water, and visits cornfields for waste grain. Has a mainly vegetarian diet that includes rice, millets, nutgrass, knotgrass, signalgrass, water shield, and alfalfa.
REFERENCES: Baldwin et al. 1964, Bellrose 1976, Cottam and Glazner 1959, Terres 1980, USDA 1981.