Eurasian Coot

The Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), also known just as Coot, is a species of bird in the rail and crake family Rallidae. It is found across much of the Old World on freshwater lakes and ponds. In the mild parts of its range it is mainly resident. Cooler climate populations migrate further south and west as the waters in much of Asia freeze. It is not a secretive bird and can be seen swimming on open water or walking along waterside grasslands. It is, however, aggressive and strongly territorial during the breeding season.

The Coot is 15.5 inches long on average and is mostly black except for a white facial shield. It has partial webbing on its long strong toes. The young are paler than the adult and have a whitish breast. They also lack the white facial shield. The black plumage begins to develop at 3-4 months of age and the white facial shield doesn’t show until about one year old.

Up to 10 eggs are laid in a nest built from dead reeds and grasses near the water’s edge or on obstacles protruding from beneath the water. Usually less than half the eggs survive due to the parents brutal behavior. Coots can be very brutal to their own young under pressure such as the lack of food. They will bite young that are begging for food and repeatedly do this until it stops begging and starves to death. But if the begging keeps going, then they may even bite so hard that the chick is killed. It is an omnivore and will eat small live prey including the eggs of other water birds.