‘Alae Ke‘oke‘o ~ Hawaiian Coot
The Hawaiian Coot is a close relative of the American Coot and was only recognized as a distinct species in 1993.
The adult coot stands 14 inches tall and is a solid gray-black with a darker neck and head. It has a white bill and bulbous frontal shield. A few have a red shield and white bill with small black markings. White undertail feathers are easy to see when they are swimming or diving for food in the shallow water. Downy chicks are black with reddish-orange spiky head plumage. They are able to run and swim soon after hatching but remain in contact with their parents by frequent calling. Juveniles have paler gray feathers and grayish bills.
‘Alae Ke’oke’o eat seeds and leaves of aquatic plants, tadpoles, insects and small fish. Their calls are a chicken-like “keck-keck” and other clucks and creaks.
There were an estimated 1000 plus coots on Ka’elepulu Pond in 1947. In 2004, 50 were observed in the Ka’elepulu Wetland and nearby lake waters. They are an endangered species.
Coot numbers in Kaelepulu from Dept of Fish and Wildlife files: