#CreatureFeature – Fulica atra (Eurasian Coot)

The Eurasian Coot have sooty-black plumage, bright white bill and frontal shield covering their forehead.

They can often be observed running across the water’s surface. The Eurasian coot requires submerged aquatic vegetation to forage and will dive below the surface for up to 20 seconds to pluck the stems of emergent shoots.

Recognised by its snowy white bill and forehead shield, while the remainder of the bird is dark sooty grey, except for its bright red eye. Immature birds are generally paler than adults with a white wash on the throat. Nestlings are downy, black with fine yellow tips with an orange-red head and a red bill with a cream-white tip.

The Eurasian Coot ranges from Eurasia to Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia. Birds have also recently transported themselves to New Zealand, and the species is quickly becoming established.

In Australia, the Eurasian Coot is common in suitably vegetated lagoons and swamps. Birds are less common in the north and in the drier regions.

In Australia, Eurasian Coots feed almost entirely on vegetable matter, supplemented with only a few insects, worms and fish. They will mainly dive for their food and this can be to depths of up to 7 metres for up to 20 seconds at a time. They will also graze on the land and on the surface of the water.

Eurasian Coots may breed at any time that conditions are favourable, and may produce successive broods. The nest is often a floating raft of vegetation or is built on logs or tree stumps that are surrounded by water. Both sexes share incubation and care of the young. If food becomes scarce, young birds may be killed by the parents.

Source: https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/eurasian-coot

Jarna Kendle – Senior Biodiversity Officer

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