coot defined in 1930 yearcoot - Coot;
coot - Beak pale flesh-colour; bald patch on the forehead white; irides crimson; under parts sooty black; above, slate-grey with a narrow white bar across the wing; legs and feet dark green. Length, eighteen inches.
In its appearance the coot is a large plain-coloured moorhen. It is more aquatic in its habits than that bird, keeping almost as constantly on the water as a diving duck. Like its smaller relation, it prefers stagnant meres or ponds, or sluggish streams with marshy borders and a deep fringe of reeds for cover; and it is to be met with in all suitable localities throughout the British Islands. It is resident all the year, but in the north, when the watercourses are frozen over in winter, it migrates to the tidal estuaries and the sea-coast, where it feeds on the mud-flats. The nest is a large structure, placed among the reeds or rushes, and built up to a height of several inches above the water. Seven to ten eggs are laid, of a light stone-colour, speckled with dark brown. The coot was formerly much more abundant than it is now in England, and was, perhaps, most numerous in the district of the Broads in Norfolk. Sir Thomas Browne, writing of the birds of Norfolk two centuries and a half ago, gives the following account of a singular habit of this bird: ' Coots are in very great flocks on the broad waters. Upon the appearance of a kite or buzzard I have seen them unite from all parts of the shore in strange numbers; when, if the kite stoop near them, they will fling up and spread such a flash of water with their wings that they will endanger the kite, and so keep him off again and again in open opposition.' This story, which reads like a fable, was found to be plain truth by Lord Lilford, who observed the coots on the lakes of Epirus, a district where birds of prey are abundant. He writes: 'I have several times observed the singular manner in which a flock of these birds defend themselves against the white-tailed eagle. On the appearance over them of one of these birds they collect in a dense body, and when the eagle stoops at them they throw up a sheet of water with their feet, and completely baffle their enemy; in one instance... they so drenched the eagle that it was with difficulty that he reached a tree on the shore not more than a hundred yards from the spot where he attacked them.'
The order Alectorides, which follows, includes two noble forms once common, but now extinct in this country. One is the crane (Grus communia), which was abundant in the fen country down to the latter end of the seventeenth century. The other, finest of British birds, is the great bustard (Otia tarda), which lived in all suitable localities in England, from the southern counties to Yorkshire, and was wantonly extirpated during the first half of the present century.
The little bustard (Otia tetrax) occurs as a rare straggler in the eastern half of England.
A single example of Macqueen's bustard (Otis macqueeni), an Asiatic species, was obtained in England half a century ago.
near coot in Knolik
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