Pochard (Aythya ferina)


[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Aythya ferina | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Pochard | [FR] Fuligule milouin | [DE] Tafelente | [ES] Porron Euroasiatico | [NL] Tafeleend


Monotypic species


Aythya is a genus of diving ducks. It has twelve described species. Aythya shihuibas was described from the Late Miocene of China. An undescribed prehistoric species is known only from Early Pleistocene fossil remains found at Dursunlu, Turkey; it might however be referrable to a paleosubspecies of an extant species considering its age. The Miocene “Aythya” arvernensis is now placed in Mionetta, while “Aythya” chauvirae seems to contain the remains of 2 species, at least one of which does not seem to be a diving duck.

Physical charateristics

The pochard is a stocky diving duck, smaller than a mallard. The male is pale grey with a rusty red head and neck, and a black breast and tail. The female is brown with a dark head and blotchy cheeks. In flight, birds show a pale grey wing-stripe.

Listen to the sound of Pochard


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 67 cm wingspan max.: 75 cm
size min.: 42 cm size max.: 49 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 8  
      eggs max.: 15  


Eurasia : West, Central


Vegetated swamps, marshes, lakes and slow flowing rivers with areas of open water.
In winter, opten on larger lakes, brackish coastal lagoons and tidal estuaries.


Egg-laying begins mainly May, in all areas. Nest is build on ground close to water (usually within 10 m), in thick cover, or in water, built up above surface, in dense reeds and rushes. Nest is build on a platform, with shallow cup of reed stems, leaves, and other vegetation. Clutch size is 8-10, but ranging from 4-22 over 15 probably always 2 females sharing nest. Incubation lasts 24-28 days and the young fledge after 50-55 days.

Feeding habits

Green part of aquatic plants and grass , leaves, stems, roots and seeds. Occasionally aquatic invertebrates and insects amphibians and small fish.
Feeds by diving, upending head-dipping and dabbling also filters mud on shore.

Video Pochard


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
This duck inhabits a major part of temperate Eurasia, from the British Isles to Mongolia. During the last decades it has extended its distribution westwards and south-westwards. It is now breeding regularly in small numbers in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. The birds of the European Union winter partly from Denmark to the British Isles and Bretagne; partly in Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Its is unlikely however that these birds have a different origin. Only for practical reasons they are considered as belonging to distinct populations. The birds wintering in north-western Europe are amounting to 350000 individuals; those of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and Central Europe are estimated at 1000000 individuals (Scott & Rose). A few thousands of individuals of this last population reach sub-Saharan Africa. After an increase in numbers and an extension in distribution, the West European population seems currently to be somewhat declining. The trends of the East European populations, visiting e. g. Greece, are less well known but seem also to indicate some decline. In the western Mediterranean this decline is estimated at 70% during the last 20 years
Pochard status Least Concern


Partially migratory; present throughout year in temperate regions (e.g. Central and NW Europe) but northernmost populations winter in Mediterranean basins, sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, SW USSR, Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia and Japan. Vagrant to Faeroes, Azores, Canary and Cape Verde Is; also to Philippines, Guam and Hawaii.

Distribution map

Pochard distribution range map


Title Intersexual differences in feeding ecology in a male dominated wintering Pochard Aythya ferina population.
Author(s): Marsden S .J . & M .S . Sulliv an 2000
Abstract: Intersexual differences in feeding rates, aggressi..[more]..
Source: Ardea 88(1) : 1-7

download full text (pdf)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *