Coot (Family: Rallidae, Genus: Fulica) - Wiki
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[Photo] Eurasian Coot, or Common Coot, Fulica atra. Taken by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tannin
The coots are medium-sized water birds which are members of the rail family. They constitute the genus Fulica.
The greatest species variety is in South America, and it is likely that the genus originated there.
These rails are all predominantly black in plumage, and, unlike many of the rails, they are usually easy to see, often swimming in open water rather than skulking in reedbeds.
They have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead, and coloured bills, and many, but not all, have white on the undertail. Like other rails, they have lobed toes.
They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers, although northern species are nevertheless capable of covering long distances; the American Coot has reached Great Britain and Ireland on rare occasions. Those species that migrate do so at night.
Coots can walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces.
These birds are omnivorous, taking mainly plant material, but also small animals and eggs. They are aggressively territorial during the breeding season, but are otherwise often found in sizeable flocks on the shallow vegetated lakes they prefer.
Species in taxonomic order
Red-knobbed Coot, Fulica cristata
Eurasian Coot, or Common Coot, Fulica atra
Hawaiian Coot, Fulica alai
American Coot, Fulica americana
Caribbean Coot, Fulica caribaea
White-winged Coot, Fulica leucoptera
Andean Coot, Fulica ardesiaca
Red-gartered Coot, Fulica armillata
Red-fronted Coot, Fulica rufifrons
Giant Coot, Fulica gigantea
Horned Coot, Fulica cornuta
Mascarene Coot, Fulica newtoni (extinct, c.1700)
Chatham Island Coot, Fulica chathamensis (prehistoric)
New Zealand Coot, Fulica prisca (prehistoric)
Fulica infelix (fossil: Early Pliocene of Juntura, USA)
Fulica shufeldti (fossil: Pleistocene of North America) - possibly a subspecies of Fulica americana; formerly F. minor
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