The Common Coot is a member of the rail and crake bird family. The Australian subspecies is known as the Australian Coot whereas American sub species is known as American Coot.
The Coot breeds across much of the Old World on freshwater lakes and ponds. It occurs and breeds in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The species has recently expanded its range into New Zealand. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but migrates further south and west from much of Asia in winter as the waters freeze.
The Coot is 42 cm long, and is largely black except for the white facial shield. As a swimming species, the Common Coot has partial webbing on its long strong toes.
The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult black plumage develops when about 4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.
The Coot is an omnivore, and will take a variety of small live prey including the eggs of other water birds, as well as algae, vegetation, seeds and fruit. It shows considerable variation in its feeding techniques, grazing on land or in the water. In the water it may upend in the fashion of a Mallard or dive in search of food.