Coot (Fulica atra)


[order] GRUIFORMES | [family] Rallidae | [latin] Fulica atra | [UK] Coot | [FR] Foulque macroule | [DE] Blasshuhn | [ES] Focha Comun | [NL] Meerkoet


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Round-headed, rotund waterbird, with all-black plumage relieved only by wholly white bill and frontal shield. Juvenile less black, often with strikingly pale face and neck. Feet of all Fulica have distinctive flat lobes, quite unlike other Rallidae and resembling those of grebes.

Listen to the sound of Coot


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 65 cm wingspan max.: 75 cm
size min.: 36 cm size max.: 39 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 55 days fledging max.: 24 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 10  




Eurasia, Oriental Region, Australasia : widespread


Large, still or slow-moving waters prefered, with shallow water, room to dive, mud-bottom and plentiful vegetation – marginal, emergent, floating, submerged. May be found on lakes, reservoirs, pond, gravel pits, canals, dykes, rivers, creeks, open marshes, salt-pans etc., including lakes and pools in towns. Makes use of temporary pools and marshes for breeding. Makes little use of cover. In winter may be found on quiet estuaries and inshore waters, also lakes and reservoirs. Mainly lowlands, but also found at higher altitudes if suitable waters.


Both parents build nest, incubate and care for chicks; may split brood temporarily or permanently. Average clutch size 6-10 eggs, hatching asynchronous, brooded on nest for three to four days.Young fed by parents for up to two months although also self-feeding by 30 days. Fledge 55-60 days, independent by six to eight weeks, may remain in parents’ territory upto 14 weeks.

Feeding habits

Omnivorous, but major part of diet plant materials. Seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic and sometimes terrestrial plants, algae. Also worms, leeches, molluscs, shrimps, larvala and adult insects, spiders, fish, birds and bird eggs, small mammals, frogs. Graze in groups on land.
Mainly diurnal, also active on brightly-lit nights.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Fulica atra is a widespread breeder across much of Europe, which accounts for less
than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large
(>1,300,000 pairs), and increased markedly between 1970-1990. Although the species
was stable (or increasing) across much of Europe during 1990-2000, key populations
in Russia, Hungary and Poland suffered declines, and the species underwent a
moderate decline (>10%) overall.
This bird inhabits a large part of Eurasia, from the Iberian Peninsula and Scandinavia to India, China, Japan and eastern Siberia. It is known also in Australia and in north-western Africa. In a large part of Europe it is sedentary, the populations of the north and north-east of the continent are wintering in south-western Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula and in North Africa. The population of the European Union (12 Members States) is amounting to 400000 breeding pairs, and the total European population to about 1.2 million
Coot status Least Concern


In warm and temperate regions, present all year (though individuals not necessarily resident), but mainly migratory in north and especially eastern Europe under influence of continental climate.
Winters from North Sea, Baltic (including southern Fenno-Scandia), east-central Europe, and southern FSU, southwards. Numbers reaching Mediterranean and Near East variable, however, probably depending on severity of winter weather further north. Only very small numbers penetrate into sub-Saharan Africa where perhaps approaches regularity only in Senegal and Sudan. Very few (perhaps only stragglers) reach Sahel zone in Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.
Flightless during wing-moult. Moult migrations known to occur (as in Anatidae), though little studied. Summer moulting concentrations regular in north Jylland (Denmark), on Ismaninger Reservoir (Bayern), and on Bodensee (Swiss/German border). Also, the most numerous of moulting waterfowl on Ukrainian coast of Black Sea, where in August flocks extend several km; main moulting periods first ten days of July to mid-September. Phenomenon doubtless widespread; big summer concentrations noted some British fresh waters July-August, e.g. on larger Essex reservoirs probably also moult assemblies as they far exceed size of local breeding numbers.
Moult assemblies build up in June and early July, and begin dispersing late August and September, by which time some juveniles already leaving breeding waters. Major movements north European Russia and west Siberia in September, but further west in Europe main autumn passage in October and first half November. Cold weather movements can occur any time during winter. Return movement begins February in mild season, but peak spring passage occurs March in western Europe, or April in FSU where northern breeding grounds may not be reoccupied until thaw in early May.

Distribution map

Coot distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *