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Red-knobbed Coot

From Opus

Adult.Photo © by brad73Marievale, South Africa, 10 June 2007
Photo © by brad73
Marievale, South Africa, 10 June 2007
Fulica cristata


[edit] Identification

Length 38–45 cm (15–18 in)
Adult -Largely dark slaty gray with black head and neck and white facial shield; in breeding plumage, the top of the shield has two small red "balls" or "horns". However these knobs are reduced during the non-breeding season.

Adult with chick.Photo © by CollinBaxCape Town, South Africa, 29 October 2008
Adult with chick.
Photo © by CollinBax
Cape Town, South Africa, 29 October 2008

Juvenile - Paler than adult, with a white breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult's black plumage develops when about 3-4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.

[edit] Similar Species

Similar to the Eurasian Coot (F. atra) which lacks the red knobs. The knobs may not always be obvious in the field. Note that the black feathering between the shield and the bill is more rounded in Red-knobbed Coot. In Eurasian Coot the bill feathering comes to an acute angled point at the side of the bill.

[edit] Distribution

Sub-Saharan Africa including Madagascar, and disjunct in Morocco and southernmost Spain.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Adult with reintroduction program collarPhoto © by Ken BillingtonS'Albufera National Park, Mallorca, Spain, 25 February 2006
Adult with reintroduction program collar
Photo © by Ken Billington
S'Albufera National Park, Mallorca, Spain, 25 February 2006

Freshwater lakes and ponds.

[edit] Behaviour

Reluctant to fly. When taking off it runs across the water with much splashing.

[edit] Breeding

Monogamous. It builds a nest of dead reeds near the water's edge or afloat, up to 8 eggs are laid.

[edit] Diet

Mainly eats plant material, supplemented with molluscs, crustaceans and insects; occasionally the eggs of other water birds.

[edit] Vocalisation

Generally noisy. Calls include a fast "kerrre" and a harsh "ka-haa."

[edit] Movements

Part of the population is resident, but most are nomadic, moving in response to rainfall. Numbers fluctuate regardless of rainfall indicating some movement even in dry years.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Taylor, B. (2018). Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 4 July 2018).
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992

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