1405. Fulica atra.
Fulica atra, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 257 (1766); Blyth, Cat. p. 286 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 715; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 254 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 293; Hume, S. F. i, p. 249; Adam, ibid. p. 397 ; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 20; v, p. 233 ; ix, p. 431; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 465; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 229 ; Hume, Cat. no. 903; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 358; Tidal, S. F. ix, p. 86; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 97; Scully, ibid. p. 590; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 122 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 72 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 322 ; Taylor, ibid. p. 466; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 352; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 366 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 136; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 327 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 386 ; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 145 ; id. Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 210.
Dasari, Dasarni, Ari, Khuskul, Thekari, H.; Barra Godan (Purneah); Boli-kodi, Tel.
Coloration. Head, neck, and lower tail-coverts black; upper plumage from neck blackish grey with a steel-blue tinge ; lower plumage paler and more ashy; edge of wing and outer web of first primary white or whitish.
Young birds are brown with the lower plumage partly white and with white tips to the secondary quills.
Bill and shield bluish white; irides red; legs and toes liver-brown, tinged with green on the tarsus; in summer there is a ring of yellow-green and red round the tibia (Oates).
Length 16 ; tail 2.25 ; wing 8.5 ; tarsus 2.25; bill from gape 1.4.
Distribution. The greater part of Europe and Asia, with Japan, the Philippines, and the Malay Archipelago as far as Java. The Coot has not been observed in Ceylon, but it is found in almost all parts of India and Burma where there are large pieces of water much covered with vegetation. It is a resident and breeds in many parts of India, but in some localities it is merely a cold-season visitor.
Habits, &c. The Coot resembles a Duck rather than a Rail in many of its habits, it swims and dives well, and although it rises with difficulty from the water, flapping along the surface with wings and feet for many yards, it flies strongly and well, when once on the wing ; but though often occurring in great numbers, it never keeps in flocks as Ducks do. It is a noisy bird, especially in the breeding-season. Its food consists of water-plants, insects, mollusca, &c. The breeding-season in the Himalayas and Kashmir is May and June, in the plains of Northern India July and August. The nest is a huge mass of green rushes and weed, sometimes in shallow water, sometimes floating, amongst reeds; the eggs, 7 to 10 or even 12 in number, are grey or pale brown, minutely speckled with black, with a few larger purplish-black spots, and measure about 1.98 by 1.4.