Coot (Australian) Fulica atra australis
Species: F. atra
Binomial name: Fulica atra
Sub-species: Fulica atra australis
Synonym: Fulica prior
Common names: Australian coot, Coot
The Australian coot (Fulica atra australis) of Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand is a subspecies of the Eurasian coot (Fulica prior), which is widespread in Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Fulica atra australis is a protected native bird that was self-introduced into New Zealand from Australia in the 20th century. They are now found throughout New Zealand other than Northland, There are few parts of the country where they are abundant. Coots are entirely aquatic, and inhabit parts of the country that have freshwater lakes and ponds with submerged vegetation and reedy, grassy islands or edges. They feed by diving for aquatic plants and invertebrates, bringing these back to surface to swallow. They will also graze on land. They have been known feed eggs of other water birds.
Adults are 38 - 42 cm long and weighs >550 grams and are a sooty black except for the white frontal shield and bill. The eyes are red. The large feet are grey with long, strong, lobed toes that are partly webbed. Immature birds have duller and paler colouring, with some pale grey on the chin and throat. They have brown eyes and smaller frontal shields.
When Fulica atra austr swims its head rocks back and forth. It has a wide repertoire of crackling, explosive or trumpeting calls, often at night.
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