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Rare Birds in Spain


American Coot (Fulica americana) at Galicia, January 2003: 2nd for Spain. 

Photos  by Pablo Gutiérrez and Antonio Gutiérrez
Text based on description submitted by Cosme Damiam Romai Cousido.


On 5.1, Cosme Damiam Romai Cousido found an American Coot at Barreiras (Graveras) de Rouxique; municipio de Sanxenxo / Sam Genjo, Pontevedra, a complex c.18 abandoned gravel-pits of less than 0,5 ha of surface each one.  The bird was in company of c. 60 Coots (Fulica atra), 9 Tufted ducks, 15-20 Moorhens and less than 10 Little Grebes and Teals.

The American coot was associated to 20 'Europeans' with whom it was continously feeding on the subaquatic vegetation

[Translated extract form original description submitted to CR/SEO.]
Download the original Spanish version of the American Coot description (by Cosme Damiam Romai), 68 Kb, Acrobat format, pdf


Medium sized water bird, its size between that of a Mallard A.platyrhynchos and Moorhen G.choloropus. About 5-10% smaller than European Coot but strongly built.
Bill not too short and quite heavily built, of a length equal to neck width or half the length lores-nape. It is rather pointed with a curved culmen, especially in the outer third. Lower mandible more straight or slightly convex. The head looks a bit heavier than that of Coot, with a characteristic square form, steep forehead, forming a 70º angle and with a rather rounded bulb in the upper bill, being absolutely different from the Fulica atra  design. Upper nape curved.  Strong neck, of an uniform width, more robust than that of F.atra. Slightly upward shaped tail , perhaps 10º angled referred to ground level. Wings seemed rounded and when folded rest 2 cm shorter than tail end. Robust legs, of a medium length tarsi and long fingers. The tibia seems very slightly shorter than Common Coot in comparison.

Feathered parts

General tone back and grey. The head and neck are black and becomes grey in the chest, flanks, back and mantle. The visible primaries are a bit darker as well as the rear end of the bird not as black as the head, however. Black undertail coverts except for two groups of off-white feathers,just below the tail which recall a bit those of Moorhen but which look smaller. Interestingly, these marks have an arrow tip pattern, leaving in the middle a sort of diamond-shaped black area (see photos below) The tail was blackish.  The underparts and the area between legs insertion was dirty white. With folded wings, the secondaries showed a white trailing edge, wider than that of Common coot. Perhaps the white colour was also present in the innermost primaries (P9 and P10 at the most) but this could not be properly stated. From behind, the wing was greyish-white with darker areas in the underwing coverts.

Bare parts

Overall white bill except for a greyer area near the base of upper mandible and an ash-grey narrow ring just before the tip of the bill, at about 5/6 of its length. A sort of rounded protuberance in the front of a chestnut tinged red-blood colour. Bright red eye and bicoloured legs, with forepart being greener than the back side of legs which look darker.

Thois bicoloured leg pattern plus the extent of whitish areas in underparts could well be characters of a 1st winter bird given the comments on the 1st Spanish record of American Coot at Euskadi in 1999.


All photos depicting possible 1st winter American Coot (F.americana) by Pablo & Antonio Gutiérrez photographed at Rouxique gravel pits, O Grove, Pontevedra, Galicia on 5.1.2003. 

American Coot (Fulica americana). Rouxique gravel-pits, O Grove, Pontevedra, Galicia, 5-11.1.2003 (Photos © Pablo Gutiérrez & Antonio Gutiérrez) 
Focha Americana (Fulica americana) Graveras de Rouxique ,O Grove, Pontevedra, Galicia, 5-11.1.2003(Fotos © Pablo Gutiérrez & Antonio Gutiérrez) 
Fotja Americana (Fulica americana) Graveres de Rouxique ,O Grove, Pontevedra, Galicia, 5-11.1.2003( Fotos © Pablo Gutiérrez & Antonio Gutiérrez) 

RG wants to thank Pablo Gutiérrez for sending these photos and Cosme Damiam for the description that will undoubtely contribute to the acceptance of this record by CR/SEO. RG quiere agradecer a Pablo Gutiérrez el envio de estas fotos y a Cosme Damiam por la descripción que sin duda contribuirán a homologar este ave por el CR/SEO. RG vol donar les gràcies  a Pablo Gutiérrez la tramesa d'aquestes fotografies i a Cosme Damiam per la descripció que sense dubte contribuiran a homologar aquesta cita pel CR/SEO.

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American Coot (Fulica americana) at Galicia, January 2003: 2nd for Spain . 


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