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46-56cm. Head, neck, back and belly deep chestnut, can appear dark or black, pink face bordered with white, long, down-curved, grey bill, red legs; adults have red eyes. The species name is misleading - the white on the face is limited to breeding birds (March-August), and is only a thin line around the eyes and bill.
Western USA south through Mexico, southeastern Brazil and southeastern Bolivia south to central Argentina, and along the coast of central Chile. Its winter range extends from southern California and Louisiana.
Marshes, swamps, ponds, rivers and wetland.
The diet includes insects, newts, leeches, earthworms, snails and especially crayfish, frogs and fish.
They roost on low platforms of dead reed stems or on mud banks.
They are colonial nesters. The nest is a deep cup made of dead reeds, lined with grasses, placed among beds of bulrushes, on floating mats of dead plants. 3-4 greenish-blue eggs are laid and are incubated by both parents for approximately 21 to 22 days. Both parents care for the young.
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