Pictures of Coots
Scientific name: Fulica, of the Rallidae family
Habitat: Common throughout Europe, North and South America
Food: plants, small animals, eggs, fish, insect
Coots are often mistaken for ducks, when actually they are a medium-sized (~15 inches) water bird. These birds have a mostly black body and a distinct white beak with a black mark near the tip. The coot's beak is shaped more like the triangle of a chicken's beak, rather than the flat shape of a duck's bill. Babies have a bald orangey red head and neck. Immature birds are more gray than black. Some coots have white markings on their under tails.
Coots can be found in freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers. They swim like ducks, but they do not have webbed feet. Their toes are instead connected by lobes, which aid in swimming as well as walking in marshy areas. Coots mostly feed on plants and grasses, but will also feed on eggs and small animals and fish. They feed either by grazing on the water's surface, foraging on land or by diving into the water.
Coots build their nests in marshy areas with tall vegetation and shallow waters. Their nest is a floating platform of plant material that is attached and anchored to surrounding plants. Females lay 6-11 eggs once or twice a year. Both male and female coots build their nest and incubate their eggs.
Coots are gregarious birds and very aggressive in defending their nests. While not breeding, they are often found in large flocks.