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Life in Freshwater

Coot (Fulica atra)

Coot adult with chick

Up to 38 cm, its pure white bill contrasts with the dark head. The body is bluish grey and round, but can look black. A comical looking bird, that is plump.

A common resident and winter visitor. Inhabits lakes and rivers surrounded by vegetation. In winter they will move down from the higher, exposed waters. Found throughout most of Europe. Birds from northern and central Europe move southwards in winter sometimes to north Africa and Iberia.

ECOLOGY: The nest is made in the shape of a cup from waterside vegetation. They feed mainly on aquatic plants and some animal matter. Their call is a short sharp noise `keuk', and have some screaming noises as well. Adults both walk and run, but their flight is weak although they hav the ability to travel long distances. To take off the bird has to patter a few steps on the water, with their large, pale blue, lobed feet. Coots often have two or even three broods in a year. They also commonly lay eggs in their neighbour's nests and lay a clutch for themselves.

The moorhen is similar but has a red splash on the head.

Coot and Moorhen
Coot on the right, Moorhen on the left


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