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The species of February 2015


 2015.02_Fulica AtraName: Eurasian coot
Scientific Name: Fulica Atra
Kingdom: Animals
Taxonomy: birds (Aves)
Class: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Fulica
Species: F. Atra

The Eurasian coot has the scientific name Fulica Atra in Latin, which is rendered in Greek as “bald head”. In Cyprus, you may have heard it as “blackheads”, because this particular aquatic bird visually looks like a hen, but it has a bright deep black color all over its body. Eurasian coot is one of the most numerous birds that visit our island during the winter months and remain for a long time, something that characterizes them as inhabitants of the island. It has a size of about 36 to  38cm with wingspan of up to 80 cm. The general coloring is dark gray to black all over the body and head. Also, due to the fact that his body is completely black, he creates the impression that he has no other colors. However, the striking colors of the Eurasian coot are special and unique. Specifically, on his head, the vertical white line on his forehead as well as his long white beak contrast with the black color of his body, thus giving it a unique characteristic external feature. Still, looking closely at the Eurasian coot’s eyes, one can notice the bright red-cherry color they have. Also, its legs are greenish with a little gray color and have wide membranes on the toes.

Ecology – Behavior
A feature of the Eurasian coot is also the way they collect their food. In particular, they completely expel the air between their wings and then dive into the water, where they can reach up to 7 meters under water and stay there for more than 15 minutes, in order to catch food. After grabbing their food with their long beak, they come to the surface of the water faster with the help of buoyancy, due to the peculiar shape of their body. Therefore, they still hold the food with their beaks until they come to the surface of the water, which causes fights from the other members of the swarm of Eurasian coots, in order to grab the food. Food can also be found in the surrounding area, where they look for food in crops near water. The most common food for the Eurasian coot is its small mollusks, insects or even its larvae, as well as seeds, stems of aquatic plants and shoots of other plants. The Eurasian coot also feeds on a variety of aquatic beetles, small fish and snails.

Eurasian coots survive in water areas that have freshwater lakes and swamps. The majority of the species prefers rich and intense vegetation around the water and is found mainly at low altitudes, with exceptions in some rare cases. The degree of adaptability of Eurasian coot is found in a wide range of habitats, including other urban areas.

Other clues
The main enemies of the Eurasian coot are birds of prey, such as hawks, owls, and eagles. As for the human factor, Eurasian coots are threatened by intense hunting activity. In general, however, their intelligence helps them avoid being prey to predators by continuing and abrupt dives into the water. The nests made by the carapace are usually located between the vegetation of the surrounding area. The female cockroach lays about 6 to 9 eggs, which will be incubated by both sexes for about 3 weeks.

[1] http://www.katakali.net/drupal/ydrobia-parydatia/falarida
[2] http://kynoclub.gr/2014/01/01/%CF%86%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%B4%CE%B1-fulica-atra/
[3] http://www.kathimerini.com.cy/index.php?pageaction=kat&modid=1&artid=75660
[4]  Πουλιά της Κύπρου, του Λουκά Χριστοφόρου, AFIAP, 1998

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