Coots Eurasian Coot Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Gruiformes Family: Rallidae Genus: Fulica
- Fulica cristata
- Fulica atra
- Fulica alai
- Fulica americana
- Fulica caribaea
- Fulica leucoptera
- Fulica ardesiaca
- Fulica armillata
- Fulica rufifrons
- Fulica gigantea
- Fulica cornuta
- Fulica newtoni (extinct)
For prehistoric species, see article text
Coots are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family Rallidae. They constitute the genus Fulica. Coots have predominantly black plumage, and, unlike many of the rails, they are usually easy to see, often swimming in open water. They are close relatives of the moorhen.
The greatest species variety is in South America, and it is likely that the genus originated there. They are common in Europe and North America.
They have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead, and coloured bills, and many, but not all, have white on the under tail. Like other rails, they have lobed toes. The featherless shield gave rise to the expression "as bald as a coot", which the Oxford English Dictionary cites in use as early as 1430. A group of coots may be referred to as a covert.
They tend to have short, rounded wings and are weak fliers, although northern species are nevertheless capable of covering long distances; the American Coot has reached Britain and Ireland on rare occasions. Those species that migrate do so at night.
Coots can walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces.
These birds are omnivorous, taking mainly plant material, but also small animals and eggs. They are aggressively territorial during the breeding season, but are otherwise often found in sizeable flocks on the shallow vegetated lakes they prefer. A flock of coots is known in the US as a cover.
Species in taxonomic order
- Fulica cristata Gmelin, 1789 - Red-knobbed Coot (Africa, Iberian Peninsula)
- Fulica atra Linnaeus, 1758 - Eurasian Coot or Common Coot
- Fulica alai Peale, 1848 - Hawaiian Coot or ʻAlae keʻokeʻo
- Fulica americana Gmelin, 1789 - American Coot
- Fulica caribaea Ridgway, 1884 - Caribbean Coot
- Fulica leucoptera Vieillot, 1817 - White-winged Coot (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Falkland Islands, Paraguay, Uruguay)
- Fulica ardesiaca Tschudi, 1843 - Slate-coloured Coot (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru)
- Fulica armillata Vieillot, 1817 - Red-gartered Coot (Argentina, southern Brazil,Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay)
- Fulica rufifrons Philppi & Landbeck, 1861 - Red-fronted Coot (Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, southern Peru, Uruguay)
- Fulica gigantea Eydoux & Souleyet, 1841 - Giant Coot (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru)
- Fulica cornuta Bonaparte, 1853 - Horned Coot (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile)
- Fulica newtoni Milne-Edwards, 1867 - Mascarene Coot (extinct, c.1700)
- Fulica chathamensis - Chatham Coot (prehistoric)
- Fulica prisca Hamilton, 1893 - New Zealand Coot (prehistoric)
- Fulica infelix Brodkorb, 1961 (fossil: Early Pliocene of Juntura, Malheur County, Oregon, USA)
- Fulica shufeldti (fossil: Pleistocene of North America) - possibly a subspecies of Fulica americana; formerly F. minor
- ^ "What do you call a group of ...?". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/page/collectivenouns_us. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- ^ "Baltimore Bird Club. Group Name for Birds: A Partial List". http://baltimorebirdclub.org/gnlist.html. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
- Rails by Taylor and van Perlo, ISBN 90-74345-20-4
- Coot videos on the Internet Bird Collection
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