Coot by Rob Miller


Fulica atra

Key Facts

  • Length: 36-40cm
  • Wingspan: 75cm
  • Weight: 800g
  • Average Lifespan: 5 years

A familiar bird of many of our wetlands, the coot is often seen on park lakes, ponds and rivers.

They spend more of their time on the water than their relative the moorhen and will dive to catch small invertebrates and eat waterweeds. Unlike ducks, coots will bring their catch to the surface before eating it, leading to squabbles over food. Coots breed in spring, laying between six and nine eggs in nests amongst emergent vegetation. Coot chicks are black with orange fluff around the face and body; they are independent within two months of hatching.

How to Identify

The Coot can be distinguished from the similar moorhen by their larger size, entirely black body (with no white patches) and their bright white bill. Coots spend most of their time out in the middle of the water, diving for food.

Where to Find


How People Can Help

Although coots are common birds, their wetland homes are under threat from development, drainage and pollution. The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you’ll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Did you know?

The saying ‘bald as a coot’ refers to the white patch just above the bill coots are also known locally as ‘bald coots’ and ‘white-faced divers’.

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