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any of three species of medium-sized, semiaquatic birds constituting the family Heliornithidae (order Gruiformes). Characteristically, they are brown above and whitish below, with lobed feet. They are poor flyers, spending most of their time in shady, quiet rivers, half-submerged near overhanging banks. None is more than 60 cm (2 feet) long. The olive-coloured American finfoot (Heliornis fulica) is only half that size, with red bill and black-banded yellow toes; it ranges from Veracruz, Mex., to northeastern Argentina