The coot bird (lyska) or black diver is a waterfowl and belongs to a family called “shepherd”. It is included in the order of “cranes” and prefers to live near lakes and lowland rivers.
There is a distinctive feature in appearance: in the central part of the head above the beak there is a spot of skin without plumage. It merges with the beak, which has the same color. Therefore, the bird was called a coot.
Birds that belong to the species of coots have black plumage. The leathery spot in the frontal part is colored differently in coots living in different parts of the world:
Birds are small in size, their body length is about 40 cm. But there are among them, having a length of more than 60 centimeters (horned and giant coots).
The pelvis and legs are adapted for swimming and diving. Under the tail, representatives of this species have soft and white feathers. The structure of the toes is peculiar: leaf-shaped blades are attached to them, which open during swimming. The color of the legs is yellowish or orange, the limbs are black, the color of the blades is almost white.
Coots are owners of small wings, they fly little, mostly swim. But coots living in the northern regions make long-distance flights.
In our country, there is one representative of the species, called the common coot. She is gray or black, the breast and belly have a grayish-smoky hue, and the beak and spots are white. The body length of an ordinary coot is only 38 centimeters, weight is one and a half kilograms. Eye color is bright red.
Coots have a dense physique. Males are slightly larger than females and their feathers are darker, and the frontal mark is larger in size. Young females are brownish in color with a light gray belly.
Listening to the voice of the coot
Where does it live
Coots inhabit many areas of the globe. They can be seen:
The vast area of the range of birds can be explained by the fact that long-distance flights are unacceptable for them. If they have chosen a place during the flight, they can stay there and do not return to their original place.
Steppe and forest-steppe zones were occupied by coots on Russian territory. The places of their settlement are reed and grass thickets near lakes and in the floodplains of slowly flowing rivers.
The shepherd family includes only eleven subspecies, called coots:
There was another species called Mascarene coots. They lived on two islands in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius and Reunion). In the 18th century, this species disappeared due to the development and drying up of swamps, as well as uncontrolled hunting.
The coot is active during the daytime. Sometimes she stays awake at night. But this happens only in the spring or during the migration period when making evening flights.
Almost all the time they are in the water and are excellent swimmers. When a coot swims, it alternately stretches and presses its neck, shaking its head. Tail submerged in water. It does not stay long on land and moves slowly, trying to raise its paws higher. Basically, the coot occupies a coastal hummock, on which it cleans its feathers.
If the coot feels danger, then it dives to a depth of about four meters or hides in thickets of grass and reeds.
The coot does not like to fly, but if it becomes necessary to take off, then it scatters across the water surface (in length, advancing eight meters) and takes off sharply. Her flight is a little heavy and she is not able to maneuver, but her speed is sufficient.
The coot flies reluctantly and the feathered bird comes out very rarely on the coastal land. Having come ashore, the coot usually finds a coastal hummock, on which she puts her feathers in order. The bird feels most comfortable swimming in the water, so most of the time it is in it.
By nature, the coot is a very trusting bird and sometimes allows predators and hunters to get close enough to itself, sometimes paying with its life for this. It has a more peaceful character, but for a tasty piece of food it will fight with ducks or swans living in the neighborhood.
Migratory flights of coots are carried out in groups or alone. Arriving at the territory for wintering, they unite in large flocks. The migration routes of coots do not have a definite pattern: they fly in constantly changing directions.
A large number of coot birds do not live up to the lifespan intended by nature due to their naivety and the influence of external factors. Researchers have found that a coot can live a maximum of eighteen years.
Coots prefer to eat plant foods. Their diet is rich in green algae. They feed on such plants growing in water:
But sometimes they catch and eat small fish, insects, fry. Coots destroy the habitats of birds living in the neighborhood and eat eggs.
Coots create pairs that live together all the time. They are monogamous. After the flight, the coots have a mating season. The formed pair has constant mutual courtship and nest building. It is built on the water surface in reed and reed thickets, and is made from grass stems and leaves. The construction of the nest is carried out by the feathered family together.
The coot does not allow even relative birds from its flock to its nest and fights with any intruder, protecting its territory. Nests are built at a distance of 30 to 60 meters. If an alien appears on the territory occupied by coots, they scream loudly, swim up to him, drive him out of its borders.
The female can lay eggs not once, but two or three times, in the amount of 6 to 13 pieces. The color of the eggs is sandy gray or clay. Small brown specks or purple-gray spots appear on the surface of the shell. Female and male incubate eggs together. When the female leaves the nest to eat, the male replaces her.
After three weeks, the chicks hatch. They are fed by their parents for about two weeks. Two days later, they are already able to leave the nest and swim with their father and mother.
During the period when coots breed, they hide from outsiders and hide in thickets. After about 2-2.5 months, the chicks move to an independent life. Puberty in young birds occurs in the next season.
Coots have a lot of enemies in nature. They are prey for the following predators:
Coots like to eat: otter, mink, wild boar and fox.
Coots are plentiful. These birds breed quickly, and easily get used to a new place. Available species of coots are stable in number and not subject to extinction.
There are factors in the world that affect the population decline:
These reasons do not have much effect on the number of coots. Today, for many species there is no need to apply conservation measures. But some are protected. For example, the Hawaiian coot.
one. Representatives of the species of coots, which are called horned, to build a nest, throw a lot of pebbles into the water and create a nest on the hill formed from them. The stone island they created reaches a mass of up to 1500 kg.
Coots, called giant coots, build their nests on rafts with a diameter of up to four meters. Such a raft can easily withstand a person weighing 75-80 kg.
2. The mating season is accompanied by games on the water. The female and male swim, moving towards, with loud cries, then, connecting their wings, make synchronous movements. After that, they diverge in opposite directions. At the end of the game, the pair unite and swim side by side.
3. When creating a situation associated with danger, the coot defends itself as follows:
It happens that the whole flock attacks the enemy and defends himself from him.