Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Linnaeus, 1758

Order: Gruiformes Family: Rallidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

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Eurasian Coot Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

This is a fairly medium size wader with a rounded rump visible when swimming, long legs and large feet with lobe-shaped lateral extensions to toes.

Colour Pattern

An all sooty-black bird with conspicuous white facial shield and bill. It has yellow legs with grey webbed feet. Juveniles are dark grey with paler face and throat.


When alarmed, runs awkwardly forward with flapping wings. It has a laborious take-off with much pattering over the surface and then flies strongly with large feet projecting.


These waterbirds are normally found on water reservoirs, streams or riverbeds with marginal vegetation.

Distinction from similar species

Eurasian Coot can only be confused with the very similar species of Red-knobbed Coot (never recorded to Madeira) or American Coot (1 record only). The main difference between the Eurasian and the American Coot is that the later is a bit smaller and has a bold white patch under the tail (like a Common Moorhen).

Fulica atra Biometrics

Wingspan: 70 - 80 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Total length: 36 - 38 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Weight: 600 - 900 g (Hume, 2002)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: It builds a large bowl of wet vegetation on reeds. Lays between 6 and 9 eggs on one or two broods between April and August.
Diet: Feeds mainly underwater on grass, seeds, shoots, snails and small aquatic creatures.


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Rare breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Seasonal vagrant bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2019: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Portuguese: Galeirão
German: Bläßhuhn
Dutch: Meerkoet
Swedish: Sothöna
Danish: Blishøne
Finish: Nokikana
Norwegian: Sothøne
Spanish: Focha Común
French: Foulque macroule
Italian: Folaga
Polish: łyska
Slovak: lyska čierna
Czech: Lyska černá

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