Coot duck

The small coot duck, belonging to the shepherd’s family, has become widespread in the Eurasian, North African and Australian territories. It is easily recognizable in the photo among the rest of the waterfowl, due to its unique appearance.

Coot duck

Distinctive appearance

The black duck with a white beak in the photo immediately stands out with its white frontal spot. In this case, the plaque in males is most pronounced. In the southwestern side of Spain and in Morocco it is easy to see a similar species of coots - crested, which differs from the classic one by the two red leathery balls on a snow-white frontal spot.

The length of the body of a coot duck reaches 40 cm (usually 36-38 cm), its wingspan varies from 20 to 24 cm. Cows weigh on average 0.5-1.0 kg.

One of the largest representatives of the family is a black giant duck, which grows up to 60 cm in length and weighs from 2 to 3 kg.

The body of the bird is slightly flattened on the sides. The feathers on the head, in the neck and in the upper part of the body are dark gray, close to black, with a dull plumage, gray cast on the spine. The plumage of the chest and around the abdomen is slightly lighter.

A sharp beak against a common black background is pronounced in its white color, although it is small in size. Stand out in birds and paws: they are painted in yellow or orange.

Geography of residence

The largest variety of species can be seen in South America, where 8 out of 11 existing species have found habitat. Many of them settled in the highlands on the Andean lakes at an altitude of 3 to 6.5 thousand meters above sea level. On the territory of Russia, only one species of coot has taken root: a black ordinary duck with a white beak, or a flat. In addition to this species, there are also:

  • crested
  • Hawaiian
  • white-winged
  • horned
  • Westindian
  • Andean
  • redhead
  • giant
  • yellow-billed
  • American

Birds living in the northern hemisphere belong to migratory ones and overcome quite large distances for them during the migration season. Cows move to wintering places mainly during the night.

The geographical range is limited to the Atlantic and the Pacific coast. Birds are found on New Zealand territory. In the European part, they can be seen almost everywhere, with the exception of only the Scandinavian regions. Single nesting was recorded in the area of ​​Svalbard and the Faroe Islands.

The main places for coots to live are taiga, steppe ponds and forest-steppe, where there are bodies of water with fresh or slightly salted water. For wintering, birds choose sea bays and large lakes.

Features of lifestyle and behavior

Unlike other members of the cowgirl family, the coot spends most of his life on the water surface. The swimming blades located on the side of the toes help the birds move through the water. The specific structure of the pelvic bone serves coots for diving, and strong legs are naturally adapted for movement on viscous soils.

Coots differ from other waterfowl representatives in their openness: a greater period of time the duck is in open water. In this they are similar to the related moorhen.

While protecting their nests, coots are particularly aggressive. Such behavior is also characteristic of them during a conflict. Birds take specific threatening poses and can engage in fights with each other.

In females and male coots, the combination range of the sounds emitted differs markedly. If the female screams loudly, the cry of the male is muffled, hissing intonations prevail in him. Unlike many birds, coots do not use sound signals during the mating season.


The main nutrition of coots is plant food, among which plant shoots and fruits stand out. Less commonly, birds prey on a variety of insects, crustaceans, and mollusks living on water. Sometimes they feast on small fish, and also break other people's bird eggs. However, the proportion of animal food in the total diet of coots does not exceed 10%.

Coots feed preferably in schools, settling in shallow water.

Among aquatic vegetation, coots are most often eaten by duckweed, pond, pinnacle, and char algae. Sometimes they take away duck and swan prey.

Coots are able to get food for themselves both on the shore and in the water column. In shallow water or in deep sections of the river channel (reaches), they collect food on the water surface or plunge into the water column with their heads and beaks and partially torso, diving into the river depth from a meter and a half.

Mating season and nesting

The mating season falls at the time of returning to the native land, when most of the water bodies were freed from ice. Courts of males are particularly active: birds vigorously beat their wings, soaring into the air or running on the surface of the water. Moreover, coots behave aggressively towards neighbors, periodically entering into conflict situations.

Cows are monogamous birds: one male has only one female for the entire period of his life.

During the nesting season, coots begin to avoid fast rivers and open water, moving to shallow water conditions in reed, reed or sedge thickets. The coot nest can rest on the bottom, but in most cases it is buoyant. It is built from last year's grass vegetation and looks like a loose pile of garbage. The distance between neighboring nests reaches half a meter, and when strangers approach, the bird begins to aggressively guard its home.

Huge nests are obtained from giant and horned coots. The sizes of their brood houses can reach up to 4 m in diameter and rise up to 0.6 m high. For horned coots, it is preferable to settle in nests on stones, for which it with its beak rolls stones to the nesting site, the total weight of which can ultimately be limits up to 1.5 t.

For one nesting period, the coot lays 2, sometimes 3, eggs, each of which has from 6 to 12-16 eggs with a sand-colored shell and speckles. With each subsequent egg laying, the number of eggs decreases.

About a day later, black-downed chicks are already able to follow their parents on their own, but they begin to feed themselves only after a week or two. The grown up young generation in 60-80 days from the moment of birth is beginning to stray into small flocks, which remain until the fall flight.


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