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The coot (Fulica atra) is a rail with a distinctive white beak. It is all-black and larger than its cousin, the moorhen. Its feet have distinctive lobed flaps of skin on the toes, which act instead of webs when swimming. When they take off from the water, they run along the surface. Chicks are distinctive with bald red heads. Coots feed on aquatic plants, like duckweed and grasses, and animals such as snails and larvae brought up from the bottom of the pond or river. Coots are territorial and will swim menacingly towards any intruders on their patch. Coots dive below the surface, to depths of up to two metres, searching insect larvae and other food.
See also:
American Coot
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