Fulica atra, the Eurasian coot, are birds which belong to the Family Rallidae. The coots are conspicuous in their range, unlike their cousins (rails, crakes and moorhens) which are normally shy and secretive. The birds are frequently encountered around the coastal cities of Australia where there are ponds, lakes or wetlands. The sexes are similar in appearance though males are slightly larger than the females. The slate-grey body, white beak and shield together with red eyes gather in large numbers on the water bodies. They graze on land and dive for food in water. The diet comprises aquatic plants, algae, shoots, seeds, invertebrates, amphibians and fish. The digits are webbed at intervals, giving the digits the appearance of strings of beads. They are excellent swimmers.
Wong Kais observed a mother bird diving for aquatic plants to feed her two chicks which were disparate in size. Eggs are incubated as they are laid and the chicks hatch asynchronously. The chicks are precocial, that is, they are quite matured at hatching and are able to run and swim. However, they still require the parents to feed them young, tender morsels.
- Wildlife of Australia by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods © 2013
- Cronin’s Key Guide to Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin © 2007
All photos and video © Wong Kais.
Article by Teo Lee Wei