Coot

Fulica atra

Have you heard the phrase  “As bald as a coot”? Well, it comes from this bird’s white facial shield. Along with the Moorhens and the Mallards, these are another water bird I see on the local canal. On this particular day the chicks were calling out to their mother and making quite a noise about it.

The Coot is a distinctive all black water bird except for the white facial shield and bill. The juvenile has a yellowish bill, lacks the white facial shield, and is somewhat paler over all.

It dives under water to feed on vegetation, eats grass, seeds, shoots, snails, tadpoles, and other aquatic animals. The nest is a bowl of vegetation in branches or reeds, or on a mound of floating debris near the water’s edge. The female lays 6-9 eggs in 1 or 2 broods from April to August. They can live for up to 15 years.

Seen all year round, on lakes and ponds, and reservoirs. A common and widespread water bird, except for the far north and west of Scotland.

Photographs taken July 2016, local canal, Staffordshire.

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