Eurasian Coot

So this is the second member of the rail family that I spotted when I was in London. For quite awhile I thought that I had gotten another picture of the American coot, but realized over the past few months that there are actually several different ‘coot’ species: the Eurasian, the American, and the Hawaiian.

Eurasian Coot swimming in Kensington Park

These birds are similar in color to the American coots–dark plumage with a white face shield and beak. Their face shields are a little wider than the American coots, and they lack the red dot towards the top of shield.

In terms of geographical distribution, the Eurasian coots are found throughout the ‘Old World’ on freshwater ponds and lakes.

Eurasian coot’s ‘Old World’ distribution. Map slightly modified from the one found on the wikipedia page for the coots.

As one can tell from the map, they’re found throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and parts of Africa. While it is a resident in the milder climates, it will migrate (at night) from the more northern regions to the more warmer southern regions (such as southeast Asia).

Coots swimming

If one looks closely at the above picture, you can also make out their long legs and feet. Coots actually don’t have webbed feet, but individually ‘webbed’ toes that help them when they run across the surface of the water–either towards a potential intruder (especially during breeding season) or away from potential threats.

The Eurasian coot is omnivorous to where they will eat plant material, but also small prey including insects, lizards amphibians, crustaceans, and even the eggs of other birds.

Eurasian coot with a stick

Here are a few other facts about the Eurasian Coot:

They have a fairly high chick mortality rate, mainly due to starvation.

Many of the chicks that die, die within the first ten days when they are most dependent on the parents for food.

When there is a lack of food, the morality rate is higher then when there is a surplus of food.

While their numbers aren’t low, they are protected by the AEWA (African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement)

The females may also lay their eggs in the nests of other coots every so often.

Photography goal for this species: Try to get a picture of the coot within Australia, Europe (other than the UK), and possibly get a picture of a chick as well.