The Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra family Rallidae), with its sooty-black plumage and gleaming white bill and frontal shield covering its forehead, is a familiar bird across Europe and Asia as well as Australia. It is often seen running across the water’s surface or swimming in huge flocks on large wetlands, but they equally often occur on small ponds. They require submerged aquatic vegetation or mats of floating waterweed, among which they forage, diving below the surface for up to 20 seconds, or plucking the stems of emergent shoots.
The only bird with which the Eurasian Coot can be confused is the similarly sized, dark grey Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa family Rallidae). These species are often found together, but the Dusky Moorhen has a reddish-orange head shield and bill, with a yellow tip. The drab, slaty-black plumage of the Dusky Moorhen is relieved only by a handful of white feathers in its undertail, which are flashed conspicuously when the bird is alarmed or while it is feeding on land: The bird spreads its tail and flicking it up and down rapidly. However, the bare parts of the species are far more colourful: it has a reddish-orange shield on its forehead, a bright-red beak with a canary-yellow tip, red legs and red or orange toes that have yellow fringes.
This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme.