Pied-billed grebes rarely fly. They make a slow dive frequently, especially when in danger, diving to about 20 ft (6.1 m) or less. They dive for about 30 seconds and may move to a more secluded area of the water, allowing only the head to be visible to watch the danger dissipate. This frequency in diving has earned them the description of being reclusive or shy in nature. It has also earned them nicknames like “hell-diver.” They rarely spend time in flocks. Their courtship include calling and sometimes duets. Males will show territorial behaviour if another male is at the edge of his territory. They face each other and then turn their heads and bills up. Then they turn away and start calling. Then they turn back around to look at one another.
Much research has been done on the breeding habits of American Coots. Studies have found that mothers will preferentially feed offspring with the brightest plume feathers, a characteristic known as chick ornaments. American coots are also susceptible to conspecific brood parasitism and have evolved mechanisms to identify which offspring are theirs and which are from parasitic females.