Skip to main content Skip to main navigation

Coot

What am I?

I am a wading bird - not a duck! However, I often hang around in park ponds with the mallards.

Where do I come from?

I can be seen year-round in the UK, my numbers increase in the winter as migratory coots from Eastern and Northern Europe join me. 

 

 

A bit about me

I live on ponds, lakes and slow-moving rivers - even in flooded quarry pits. My long legs and toes enable me to dive for my favourite food, submerged plants, but I will also eat insects, fruit, seeds, leaves and bird eggs. I am sometimes mistaken for a moorhen; however, I am larger, and the most obvious difference is my white bill and forehead.

My nest is typically quite exposed at the edge of a reed bed, and is made from dead reeds. Despite my relatively small size, I will agressively defend my territory, especially during breeding season. I will typically have 5-7 chicks in a brood, but often, they won't all survive. I have been known to attack and kill my own young! There are several theories to why I do this; it could simply be a way of reducing the number of chicks as I can't feed them all, while some humans think I am punishing chicks for being too pushy while begging for food, a third reason might be that another cheeky coot has laid it's eggs in my nest, and I've discovered that some of the chicks don't belong to me! 

Fun fact

The phrase "bald as a coot" is derived from the white frontal patch on my forehead.

Local spotlight

I am common on the Solent all year round.

Conservation status

I'm  green listed in the UK .