Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.28(1). (2020) p.176-180.

Differences in eggshell pigmentation pattern between Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus and Eurasian Coot Fulica atra eggs
Valentin Adrian Kiss, Liviu Răzvan Pripon & Attila Marton

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Facultative avian brood parasites increase their reproductive output by laying eggs in the nests of conspecifics or closely related species. The Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus is a well-known facultative brood parasite that nests in wetlands, which are utilised also by a wide range of waterfowl, including the Eurasian Coot Fulica atra. The two species breed in similar habitats and have a similar egg pigmentation pattern; thus, the Coot can be a suitable host of brood-parasitic Moorhen. To study whether there is any discernible difference between the spotting pattern of Coot and Moorhen eggs, we compared the density of different sized spots on eggs of the two species. Our results show that Coot eggs have a significantly higher density of small speckles then Moorhen eggs, while the latter species has eggs with more conspicuous larger spots. Therefore, Coots can possibly rely on these differences in eggshell pattern to recognize and eject the brood parasitic Moorhen eggs.