Sunday, August 23, 2015

EURASIAN COOT PARENTS AND CHICKS



The Eurasian Coot's scientific name is "Fulica atra" and it is recognized by its snowy white bill and forehead shield.  The rest of its coloring is a dark sooty grey, but it does have bright red eyes.  



Immature birds are generally paler than adults, with a white wash on the throat.  Nestlings are downy black with fine yellow tips. The head is orange-red and the bill is red with a creamy 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.



Food is mainly obtained during underwater dives which can last up to 15 seconds and range down to about 21 to 22 feet in depth.  Birds also graze on the land and on the surface of the water.  In Australia, Eurasian Coots feed almost entirely on vegetable matter, supplementing their diet with a few insects, worms and fish.  Birds of the northern hemisphere tend to be much more carnivorous.  


They breed any time conditions are favorable, and may produce successive broods.  During the breeding season pairs establish and maintain territories with vigor.  Their aggression is also extended towards other species.  Nests of ducks are often seized and used as roosting sites, the unfortunate owner's eggs being pushed off into the water.  Young ducks and grebes are sometimes killed.  The nest is often a floating raft of vegetation or is built on logs or tree stumps that are surrounded by water.  Both male and female coots share incubation and care of the young.  If food becomes scarce the young birds may be killed by the parents.


I spotted these coots at Torcross in Devonshire a couple of months back.  Across the road from the sea is a fresh water lake.  This area is called Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, which you can take a look at here.  There were dozens of water birds which were a whole lot of fun to observe.  They are quite used to humans.  We sat on the bench for a long time, but got up and left when a family arrived with their small dog. The ducks, of course, all headed for the water and were gone.  After walking around Torcross Village and on our way back to the car, they had returned and another family had appeared to enjoy the bench we had been sitting on.

I was fascinated by the coots and their very territorial behavior but did not realize they were as aggressive as what I read online. Still, they are a fascinating bird, especially when you look at those enormous, strange looking feet.  There is overwhelming evidence that birds are the descendants of a maniraptoran dinosaur, probably something similar - not identical - to a small Dromaeosaur.  You can take a look here.

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Today I am linking with the following meme's, with many thanks to our hosts for allowing us to see many wonderful nature photos from around the world.

Anni at Bird D'Pot

Judith at Mosaic Monday
Michelle at Nature Notes

32 comments:

Sandra said...

i lvoe the colors black and white together and these are really handsome. good to know they are aggressive, i think most birds are during nesting season. at Jungle gardens they have signs up during mating season, the flamingos get digressive and so do the peacocks. love those sweet babies

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely pictures and those chicks look so cute.

All the best Jan

Rose said...

I always think their feet so strange...well, coots in general. I have not seen these. Lot interesting info here...

Hannah said...

Cute coots. I didn't know their diet was so varied and carnivorous. I'm always amazed at how the chicks are transformed so much into the adults. I would like to see a time-lapse series of the transformation from chick to adult.

Jeanne said...

Very interesting! Love the little fuzzies.
The wedding pictures are really neat!

Margaret Adamson said...

I think that when the chicks of a coot are born they are the ugliest chicks I know. Only a mother could love them!! However they change quite quickkly. Your photographs are aall lovely and thanks for the information.

Red said...

Coots are a rather awkward critter. They are interesting to watch as they know they are safe on the water.

Elephant's Child said...

Awwww.

TexWisGirl said...

so very cute!

Sandra Cox said...

Wow. These are some pretty tough birds. The pictures are amazing.
Thanks for sharing.

Linda said...

How adorable, Denise! :)

GreenComotion said...

Adorable and I love your mosaic - particularly the frame around the mosaic!
Nicely done, Denise!
Have a Beautiful Week!
Peace :)

Stephanie said...

Cute shots of them!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I rather like Coots though some of them seem to take aggression to the edge of psychopathy.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Wonderful photos! I love their big feet. Have a great week, Denise!

Möwe von der Insel said...

Sorry, I took a day off yesterday :)
Beautiful pictures of the coots and
thanks for all the information around them :)

Have a beautiful day!
Möwe

EG CameraGirl said...

I've nevr seen Eurasian Coots before but they do look quite a lot like the American Coots.

Adam said...

nice birds

eileeninmd said...

Hello Denise, wonderful post on the Coots and their family. The chicks are adorable. Thanks for the info. Have a great day!

Snap said...

I think there is something about the coot that is cute! Maybe I just like birds??!!! Lovely and informative post. Happy Monday!

Lorrie said...

Great photos of the Eurasian Coots. I've only seen the American variety and think them such interesting and humorous looking creatures. The ones here have bright bluish-green feet.

Linda Kay said...

The coot chicks are so cute....do you call them cooties? :-0

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Wondering what an American coot looks like! They are very bustling birds, with an unmistakeable alarm shriek, and in the UK will breed late into September or even October, I've noticed

Donna said...

I have never seen this bird but it is quite unusual...I like its look!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

They look prehistoric now that I think of it ... Just like the coots we see here and in Florida, those huge ungainly feet!

William Kendall said...

They're fascinating critters!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

Interesting information about the coots and their chicks and your photos do justice for recognizing them in the future.
Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Denise.

Leora said...

Coot: what a great name for a handsome bird.

mick said...

Interesting post and great photos.

Rambling Woods said...

This is a great post as I didn't know anything about this bird.... Michelle

Lea said...

They look like they were made up out of spare parts!
Very interesting!

Marie C said...

Absolutely wonderful photos! Loved seeing this gorgeous adult and her babies! I also enjoyed reading the information on them. Very nice post.