Hawaiian Coot

Fulica alai / ʻAlae keʻokeʻo
alae ke oke o

The ‘alae ke‘oke‘o is dark slate gray with a white bill and a large frontal shield (extension of bill onto forehead). The frontal shield is white but some sport a small red dot which is not related to sex or age. They have white undertail feathers that are visible when adults are defending their territory and during courtship displays. 

‘Alae ke‘oke‘o are found in fresh and brackish-water marshes and ponds. They rarely fly, but are capable of sustained flight close to the water. During breeding season (December to March) they prefer deeper water (up to 18 inches in depth) interspersed in emergent vegetation which provides the vertical structure needed to construct nests. The vegetation also provides cover for young birds.  

Floating nests are constructed in aquatic vegetation and three to ten white eggs are laid. Adults share responsibilities of incubation (25 days) and caring for the young. 

Chicks possess black down, except on the head, neck and throat, where the down is reddish-orange. For the first week, the chicks’ bald orange head is prominent.‘Alae ke‘oke‘o are territorial during nesting and will defend their area from other coots. This aggressive behavior is evident as ‘alae ke‘oke‘o raise their tail feathers and lower their head as they head off the intruders. In heated battles, the adults will use their wings to balance them upright as they use their feet to fight off other ‘alae ke‘oke‘o – similar to kickboxing!

‘Alae ke‘oke‘o were listed on the Endangered Species Act in 1970. 

Facts About Hawaiian Coot


Generalist feeders, eating seeds, aquatic leaves, invertebrates (crustaceans, snails), and tadpoles
Life Span
No information available
Length: 38 cm (15 in); wingspan: 63 cm (25 in)