Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
HABITAT: Once inhabited natural prairies but now found mainly on highly disturbed mixed-grass prairies dotted with small glacial potholes. Also found in taiga broken by moist, grassy muskeg and many small lakes and pools, and in farming country of aspen-grove parklands. Inhabits rolling uplands as high as 6,900 feet in elevation. Outside the breeding season, mainly found on inland wetlands but sometimes on saline or alkaline depressions.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shallow water bordered by low grasses or sedges.
NEST: Nests semi-colonially in a scrapes on the ground around damp meadows with marsh grasses and sedges or rushes. Also nests by shallow sloughs, morasses fringed with short grasses or sedges, lake shores, and in hay meadows or pastures, often 50 to 100 yards from water.
FOOD: Forages on muddy shores and in shallow water; stirs up food by whirling its body around in water. Consumes larvae of mosquitoes and craneflies; predaceous diving beetles, aquatic bugs, brine shrimp, amphipods, eggs of water fleas; and seeds of aquatic plants.
REFERENCES: Bent 1927, Cramp and Simmons 1983, Hohn 1967, Low and Mansell 1983, Palmer 1967.