Bird Families

Giant coot (Fulica gigantea) and more

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Latin name:Fulica atra
Detachment:Crane-like
Family:Shepherd's
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior... Waterfowl the size of a small duck (somewhat smaller than a mallard), dark monochromatic, with a very short tail and large long-toed paws (body length 36–38 cm, body weight 500–1,000 g). The toes are framed by flat leathery "scallops" that replace her swimming membranes.

The wings are rather short and wide. The beak is pointed, conical in shape, on the forehead there is a convex horny "plaque" fused with it, which can be very large, covering almost the entire top of the head (in old males during the breeding season), and barely noticeable (in young birds in the first autumn of life ). It easily differs from all other waterfowl by its monochromatic dark color in combination with a white beak and forehead (except for chicks before the first autumn molt). It is the most aquatic of the shepherd birds, most often it has to be seen swimming.

Landing on the water is rather low (similar to that of diving ducks), when moving it shakes its head back and forth, like a dove walking on the ground. It is found on all kinds of stagnant or slowly flowing water bodies (oxbows, ponds, including fish-draw ponds, reservoirs), excluding very small ponds. As a rule, it tries to stay close to the thickets of emergent vegetation, for example, reeds, where it hides in case of danger, diving or running away on the water, helping itself with its wings. If it is necessary to fly a considerable distance, it rises from the water after a take-off run; in flight, wide rounded wings and long legs stretched back draw attention to themselves. The flight is fast, but not maneuverable, in general it resembles a duck. It rarely comes ashore, most often it gets out on hummocks and rafts near the edge of thickets to clean feathers. On land, the coot with its outlines most resembles a tailless chicken.

Description... The plumage of adult birds is monochromatic dull black, the beak and frontal plaque are pure white. The eyes are dark red. The color of the legs can be from lead-gray to dirty yellow-green, and the heel joint, respectively, from yellowish to orange. The older the bird, the brighter the legs. Swimming toes are always gray. Fledging chicks are dark gray before the first molt, with a dirty white throat, cheeks and breast, their eyes are gray-brown. Downy chicks in the first days of life are dark gray with a bright orange head and red beak; as they grow, their color gradually fades.

Vote - a variety of abrupt, sharp cries, reminiscent of clicking, then a short sob, then crackling. It is silent outside the breeding season.

Distribution, status... The area includes Eurasia, northern Africa, Australia. Widely distributed in the south of the European part of Russia. A common, in some places numerous species of plain overgrown reservoirs. Wintering in the south of Russia, in Europe and in the south of Asia.

Lifestyle... Coots nest in separate pairs, protecting the boundaries of the site from other individuals of their own species. The nest itself, a bowl-shaped structure made of reed leaves or other similar material, is located, as a rule, in thickets in deep water, in a clutch of up to 12 light cream eggs in a small dark speck. Both parents incubate and raise chicks. After breeding, before leaving for wintering, it forms clusters, sometimes quite large, of tens and even hundreds and thousands of birds.

Flies off a little earlier than most waterfowl, without waiting for the appearance of ice on reservoirs. Arrives back in April. In the presence of non-freezing water, some individuals may remain for the winter. Winters in large numbers on the Black and Caspian Seas. It feeds mainly on plant foods.

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Mascarene Coot / Fulica newtonii

  • Fulica newtonii: Extinct. Formerly occurred on Réunion Island, and possibly Mauritius

Sources recognizing this taxon

Avibase taxonomic concepts (current):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 01 (August 2013):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 02 (May 2014):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 03 (March 2015):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 04 (Aug 2016):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 05 (Jan 2017):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 06 (Feb 2018):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Avibase taxonomic concepts v. 07 (Feb 2020):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Birdlife checklist version 00:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 01:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 02:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 03:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 04:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 05 (Jun 2012):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 05.1 (Oct 2012):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 06 (Nov 2013):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 06.1 (Feb 2014):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
Birdlife checklist version 07 (Jul 2014):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Birdlife checklist version 08 (Oct 2015):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Birdlife checklist version 09 (Dec 2016):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Birdlife checklist version 09.1 (Jun 2017):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
HBW and BirdLife Taxonomic Checklist v2 (Dec 2017):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
HBW and BirdLife Taxonomic Checklist v3 (Nov 2018):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
HBW and BirdLife Taxonomic Checklist v4 (Dec 2019):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
HBW and BirdLife Taxonomic Checklist v5 (Dec 2020):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Clements, version 2019:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
eBird version 2019:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Handbook of the Birds of the World and Birdlife (Dec 2017):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Handbook of the Birds of the World and Birdlife (Dec 2018):
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 3.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
IOC World Bird Names, version 3.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtoni)
IOC World Bird Names, version 3.3:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 3.4:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 3.5:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 4.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 4.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 4.3:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 4.4:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 5.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 5.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 5.3:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 5.4:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 6.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 6.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 6.3:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 6.4:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 7.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 7.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 7.3:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 8.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 8.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 9.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 9.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 10.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 10.2:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
IOC World Bird Names, version 11.1:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Working Group Avian Checklists, version 0.01:
Mascarene Coot (Fulica newtonii)
Zoonomen - Zoological Nomenclature Resource:
Fulica newtonii

Taxonomic status:

View status: fossil species (extinct)

Appearance

Birds that belong to the coot species have black plumage. The leathery spot in the forehead is colored differently in coots living in different parts of the world:

  • European coots have a white spot,
  • South American red-fronted coots - a red spot,
  • white-winged coots are a bright yellow spot.

The birds are small in size, their body length is about 40 cm. But some of them have a length of more than 60 centimeters (horned and giant coots).

The pelvis and legs are adapted for swimming and diving. Under the tail, this species has soft and white feathers. The structure of the toes is peculiar: leaf-shaped blades are attached to them, which open during swimming. The color of the legs is yellowish or orange, the limbs are black, the blades are almost white.

Coots have small wings, they fly little, mostly swim. But coots living in the northern regions make long-distance flights.

In our country, there is one representative of the species, called common bald... It is gray or black, the breast and belly have a grayish-smoky shade, and the beak and spots are white. The body length of the common coot is only 38 centimeters, the weight is one and a half kilograms. The eye color is bright red.

Coots have a dense build. Males are slightly larger than females and their feathers are darker, and the frontal mark is larger in size. Young females are brownish in color with a light gray belly.

Where dwells

Coots inhabit many parts of the world. You can see them:

  • on the continent of Eurasia,
  • in north Africa,
  • in Australia,
  • in New Guinea,
  • in America.

The vast area of ​​the bird range can be explained by the fact that long-distance flights are unacceptable for them. If you have chosen a place during the flight, you can stay there and do not return to your previous place.

The steppe and forest-steppe zones were occupied by coots on Russian territory. The places of their settlement are reed and grass thickets near lakes and in the floodplains of slowly flowing rivers.

Types of coot

The shepherd family includes only eleven subspecies, called coots:

  • crested,
  • Hawaiian,
  • ordinary,
  • American,
  • gigantic,
  • yellow-billed,
  • red-faced,
  • Andean,
  • West Indies,
  • horned.
  • white-winged.

There was another species called mascarene coots. They lived on two islands in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius and Reunion). In the 18th century, this species disappeared, due to the development and desiccation of swamps, as well as uncontrolled hunting.

Lifestyle

The coot is active during the daytime. Sometimes she is awake at night. But this happens only in the spring or during the migration period when making evening flights.

They are in the water almost all the time and are excellent swimmers. When the coot swims, it alternately stretches and presses its neck, shaking its head. The tail is submerged in water. On land it is not long and moves slowly, trying to raise its paws higher. Basically, the coot occupies the coastal hummock, on which it cleans its feathers.

If the coot senses danger, it dives into a depth of about four meters or hides in thickets of grass and reeds.

The coot does not like to fly, but if there is a need to take off, then it scatters along the water surface (in length, moving eight meters) and takes off sharply. Her flight is a little heavy, and she is not able to maneuver, but her speed is sufficient.

The coot flies reluctantly and very rarely comes out on the coastal land. Coming ashore, the coot usually finds a coastal hummock, on which it puts its feathers in order. The bird feels most comfortable when swimming in the water, so most of the time it is in it.

By nature, the coot is a very gullible bird and sometimes lets predators and hunters close enough to him, sometimes he pays for this with his life. It has a mostly peaceful character, but will fight with ducks or swans living in the neighborhood for a tasty piece of food.

Coots make migratory flights in groups or individually. Arriving on the territory for wintering, they unite in large flocks. The migration routes of coots do not have a definite pattern: they fly in constantly changing directions.

A large number of coot birds do not reach their intended life span due to their naivety and the influence of external factors. Researchers have found that a coot can live a maximum of eighteen years.

Food

Coots prefer plant foods. Their diet contains more green algae. They feed on such plants growing in water:

  • duckweed,
  • pinnate
  • hornwort,
  • algae.

But sometimes they catch and eat small fish, insects, fry. Coots destroy the dwellings of neighboring birds and eat eggs.

Reproduction

Coots create pairs that live together permanently. They are monogamous. After the flight, the mating season begins in coots. The formed pair has constant mutual courtship and nest building. It is built on the water surface in reed and reed thickets, and is made of grass stems and leaves. The construction of the nest is carried out jointly by the feathered family.

Black loon chick

The coot does not allow even relatives of birds from its flock to its nest and fights with any intruder, protecting its territory. Nests are built at a distance of 30 to 60 meters. If an alien appears on the territory occupied by coots, they scream loudly, swim out to him, drive him out of its borders.

The female can lay eggs not once, but two or three times, in the amount of 6 to 13 pieces. The color of the eggs is sandy gray or clayey. Small brown specks or violet-gray spots appear on the surface of the shell. The female and the male incubate eggs together. When the female leaves the nest to eat, the male replaces her.

Chicks hatch after three weeks. Their parents feed them for about two weeks. After two days, they are already able to leave the nest and swim with their father and mother.

During the period when coots breed, they hide from strangers and hide in thickets. After about 2-2.5 months, the chicks move on to an independent life. Sexual maturity in young birds occurs in the next season.

Natural enemies

Coots have a lot of enemies in nature. They are prey for the following predators:

  • raven,
  • marsh harriers,
  • falcons,
  • eagles,
  • seagulls.

Coots love to eat: otter, mink, wild boar and fox.

Population

Coots are numerous. These birds multiply quickly and easily get used to a new place. The available species of coots are stable in number and not subject to extinction.

There are factors in the world that affect the population decline:

  • cutting down reeds,
  • drainage of reservoirs,
  • hunting,
  • ecology.

These reasons do not have much effect on the number of coots. Today, for many species, it is not necessary to apply protective measures. But some are under protection. For example, the Hawaiian coot.

Interesting Facts

1. Representatives of the coot species, which are called horned, throw a lot of pebbles into the water to arrange a nest, and create a nest on a hill formed from them. The stone island created by them reaches a mass of up to 1500 kg.

Coots, called giant coots, build their nests on rafts up to four meters in diameter. Such a raft can easily support a person weighing 75-80 kg.

2. The mating season is accompanied by games on the water. The female and the male swim, moving towards them, with loud cries, then, connecting their wings, perform synchronous movements. After that, they diverge in opposite directions. At the end of the game, the couple team up and swim side by side.

3. When creating a hazardous situation, the coot is protected as follows:

  • jumps over the surface of the water,
  • with great force hits the water with its paws and wings, causing splashes,
  • stuns its enemy with powerful blows with its beak and paws.

It happens that the whole flock attacks the enemy and defends itself from him.

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