Backyard Buddies
Eurasian Coot

Photo: Rosie Nicolai

Eurasian Coot

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Coots live near water in every state of Australia, except in the most arid deserts. Coots also live in New Guinea, Europe, India, China, Indonesia, North Africa and New Zealand.

A group of Coots is called a covert. Adult coots are black, with a white facial shield and beak. They have red eyes and long, strong toes with partial webbing.

Coot chicks look quite strange! They are fluffy grey, with hairy red and orange feathers on their heads and necks. As they mature, they become darker and their beak turns white.

Coots live in fresh and slightly salty, brackish water. They are vegetarians that eat waterweeds, and can dive up to 7 m underwater to pull one up.

Coots are highly territorial during winter and spring when they are breeding in Australia, but only towards other birds. They’re harmless to you and fun to watch.

When a Coot wants to attract a partner, it chases its desired Coot around on the water, calls, and strikes the water with its wings. Once a pair of Coots agree that they like each other, they nibble each other’s feathers affectionately and make greeting postures towards each other.

You can look after Coots in your own backyard

Carry a bag in your car or jacket pocket to place rubbish in that you find when you go for a walk, and dispose of it appropriately. Cigarette butts, plastic bags, drink bottles, chip packets and bottle caps often end up in our waterways and harm marine animals and water birds.

A single plastic bag can last for hundreds of years in salt water, and can cause many marine fatalities before it eventually gets broken up.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Coot is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Coots, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes. So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Coots do and do not like.

Coots love:

Waterweeds – are the favourite food of Coots in Australia. Coots can dive underwater for up to 15 seconds in search of waterweeds.

Water skating – along the surface of the water as they take off to fly.

Grasses and leaves – which they come on land to nibble, and sometimes take back to line their nests.

But they don't like:

Rubbish – which enters waterways and can pollute their homes.

Garden chemicals – which get washed away from the garden by rain and enter rivers, streams and swamps. These chemicals can cause algal blooms which make waterways unhealthy for Coots and the waterweeds they eat.

Other birds in their nesting territory – Coots will fight off other birds that come too close.

Be a Coot buddy

Try to:

Avoid:

Don't be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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