Belongs to: herons & crakes

Compare with: moorhen

Coot Fulica atra

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Familiar all-black waterbird with white frontal shield and bill, sometimes forming large flocks

Breed on freshwater lakes and ponds with dense aquatic vegetation; take to estuary and coast in cold spells

Widespread and common resident


All black, greyish legs, large webbed feet, white bill and frontal shield; 36–38 cm

Swims with nodding head movements, diving frequently; eats mostly plants and some animal matter

Forms large tightly-packed 'rafts' in winter; makes explosive alarm and contact calls 


Aggressive birds that compete for females and defend their territory vigorously, causing a great commotion

Nest is a bulky cup among aquatic vegetation or adjacent bushes

Two broods of 6–9 buff eggs spotted black, mid-March to June

© Owen Keen

© Ken Wooldridge

© Alan Williams