Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Eurasian coot

Thai: นกคู้ต, nok koo

Binomial name: Fulica atra, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The Eurasian coot (Fulica atra), also known as coot, is a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae. It is found in Europe, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. The Australian subspecies is known as the Australian coot.

Distribution

The coot breeds across much of the Old World on freshwater lakes and ponds. It occurs and breeds in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The species has recently expanded its range into New Zealand. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but migrates further south and west from much of Asia in winter as the waters freeze

Description

The Eurasian coot is 32 – 42 cm long and weighs 585 - 1100 g, and is largely black except for the white frontal shield (which gave rise to the phrase "as bald as a coot", which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430). As a swimming species, the coot has partial webbing on its long strong toes.

The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult black plumage develops when about 3–4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.

This is a noisy bird with a wide repertoire of crackling, explosive, or trumpeting calls, often given at night.

Behaviour

The Eurasian coot is much less secretive than most of the rail family, and can be seen swimming on open water or walking across waterside grasslands. It is an aggressive species, and strongly territorial during the breeding season, and both parents are involved in territorial defence. During the non-breeding season they may form large flocks, possibly related to predator avoidance.

It is reluctant to fly and when taking off runs across the water surface with much splashing. They do the same, but without actually flying, when travelling a short distance at speed in territorial disputes. As with many rails, its weak flight does not inspire confidence, but on migration, usually at night, it can cover surprisingly large distances. It bobs its head as it swims, and makes short dives from a little jump.

Breeding

This species builds a nest of dead reeds or grasses, but also pieces of paper or plastic near the water's edge or on underwater obstacles protruding from the water, laying up to 10 eggs, sometimes 2 or 3 times per season. Usually only a few young survive. They are frequent prey for birds such as herons and gulls.

Coots can be very brutal to their own young under pressure such as the lack of food. They will bite young that are begging for food and repeatedly do this until it stops begging and starves to death. If the begging continues, they may bite so hard that the chick is killed.

Diet

The coot is an omnivore, and will take a variety of small live prey including the eggs of other water birds, as well as algae, vegetation, seeds and fruit. It shows considerable variation in its feeding techniques, grazing on land or in the water. In the water it may upend in the fashion of a mallard or dive in search of food.

Status

The Eurasian coot is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Fossil record

An extinct subspecies (Fulica atra pontica) has been described from the Eneolithic (around 4800-4400 BP) of Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Gruiformes
Family
Rallidae
Genus
Fulica
Species
Fulica atra

Common names

  • English:
    • Common coot
    • Coot
    • Eurasian coot
    • European coot
  • French: Foulque macroule
  • Thai: นกคู้ต, nok koo

Synonyms

  • Fulica prior, Charles Walter De Vis (1888)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Eurasian coot, Fulica atra in Thailand
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Bang Ban District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Bueng Khong Long Non-hunting Area
  • Chatturat District, Chaiyaphum
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Talat Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Kut Thing Non-hunting Area
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Waeng Non-hunting Area
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Yang Talat District, Kalasin

Range map of Fulica atra in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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