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Name

  • Common name (English): Eurasian Coot
  • Scientific Name: Fulica atra

 

Etymology

The word Fulica is of Latin origin and means "coot", and the specific epithet atra comes from the Latin ater, atra, atrum, which is the feminine form of ater, meaning "dark, dull black".

Distribution and habitat

The Eurasian Coot is one of the most territorial and aggressive birds in European bodies of water. It is known for maintaining energetic relationships with individuals of the same species, with whom it can have major confrontations due to its particular sense of territoriality, especially during the breeding season.

This animal usually feeds on a wide variety of live prey, such as small fish, dragonfly nymphs, newts, tadpoles and some insect larvae, but has been known to prey on eggs and chicks in the nests of other waterfowl. Though its diet is mainly based on aquatic algae, grains and seeds, it sometimes forages for food in meadows, generally close to bodies of water.

Biology and Conservation

Records show that coots can be very aggressive even with their own offspring. They have even been known to brutally attack and kill their chicks in response to the demand for food.

They usually build their nests with abundant dry branches and humid organic material; in some cases, they have even incorporated human refuse into their construction. The nests may be floating or be anchored to partially submerged branches. Nests are usually built between January and May. Clutches may contain up to 9 eggs, although 6 is more usual. Both parents share in the incubation duties. The eggs hatch after 21 days. Both parents are charged with feeding the chicks. They take care of their young for a period of 8 weeks, during which time the chicks become independent.

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