Similar to other bird species, Coots (Fulica atra) usually interrupt feeding to look up and to scan their environment for predators. Predation risk may differ among feeding methods. Coots may suffer from aerial predators both in the water and on land, and additionally from terrestrial predators when feeding on land. Samples were obtained from 10 different study sites where Coots fed both on water and on land (N = 139 feeding-bouts). Flock structure differed significantly between feeding methods, and nearest-neighbor distance was lower on land (water: 5.2 ± 0.3 Coot length, land: 2.8 ± 0.2 Coot length). Mean feeding-bout length--defined as the time of uninterrupted feeding--was significantly different (water: 12.2 ± 0.8 s, land: 9.4 ± 0.8 s). When using the study sites as samples, aquatic feeding-bouts were also significantly longer. In a general linear mixed model a significant influence of feeding method on feeding-bout length was found, again with a higher bout length in the water. Feeding-bout lengths were positively correlated between aquatic and terrestrial feeding within the same study site. These results suggest that Coots perceived more safety during aquatic feeding which was reflected in longer feeding-bouts.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1