124 (Eurasian) Coot
(Fulica atra)


36-42cm. The Eurasian Coot is characterised by plump, broad body, short tail and small, rounded head. Sooty-grey body and black head with white bill and white frontal plate. In flight shows narrow white trailing edge to secondaries. Legs strong, toes long and lobed (like grebes; not webbed as on ducks). Swims with gently nodding head. Dives with a small leap, soon resurfacing (floats like a cork). When taking off from water, runs along surface with splashing feet.


The Eurasian Coot is a common breeder in marshes, oxbow lakes, lakes, fishponds and reservoirs, as well as in extensive flooded areas and slower sections of rivers at low and medium elevations. Population has been increasing in Hungary in the past few years. From late summer on gathers in flocks numbering several thousands of individuals near lake Balaton, Lake Tisza and in fishponds situated primarily on the Great Plain. In Hungary it is on passage between mid-February and mid-March in spring and between mid-August and late November in autumn. The frequency of overwintering (primarily at Lake Balaton and the Danube) has significantly increased in the past decades.

124 (Eurasian) Coot pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008