Common in fresh and brackish marshes, on ponds, lakes, and along slow-moving watercourses with bordering vegetation. Swims with jerky motion and walks with stealthy gait, the tail often slightly cocked; does not usually dive. Note big white oval patches under tail and white streaks along flanks. Adult has red bill with yellow tip; immature has duller bill and legs. Smaller and more retiring than coot, and rarely far out on open water.