Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Bird Wednesday: Coot

A pair of Eurasian coot (Fulica atra) and their chicks. The chicks are so ugly they meet cute coming from the other direction.

I can never watch coot chicks without feeling a little bit afraid for them, even when the parents are caring for them as well as those two.

The reason for this is that when the brood is very large and/or food is scarce, the parents will start to chase their babies away, pecking them hard when they beg for food. This goes on until the chicks are either killed by the pecks or don't dare to beg for food any more and starve. Only the strongest survive. I know that this makes a lot of sense, but it's still heartbreaking to watch.

But when there's enough food, coots are great parents and will take on much bigger birds in defence of their chicks. Actually, coots are a bit of a bully anyway, I've seen swans steer clear of them. Here's an older chick - still not very elegant, but at least the feet fit a bit better.

More birds at World Bird Wednesday

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