Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

Tufted Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Aythya fuligula | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Tufted Duck | [FR] Fuligule morillon | [DE] Reiherente | [ES] Porron Monudo | [NL] Kuifeend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Aythya fuligula EU widespread


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

Male tufted ducks closely resemble their counterparts in ring-necked ducks. The principle difference is the tuft of feathers that fall behind the head. In addition, the sides are white rather than gray, the bill lacks a white margin at the base, and in flight a white stripe at the back of the inner wing is displayed. The female tufted duck is similar in appearance to female scaup, but is black-brown with a smaller patch of white at the base of the bill. At the back of the head, there is a small protuberance of feathers, which is much smaller than the males.

Listen to the sound of Tufted Duck

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ANSERIFORMES/Anatidae/sounds/Tufted Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 65 cm wingspan max.: 72 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 47 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 8  
      eggs max.: 15  


Eurasia : widespread


Their breeding habitat is close to marshes and lakes with plenty of vegetation to conceal the nest. They are also found on coastal lagoons, the seashore, and sheltered ponds.


Tufted ducks breed across Eurasia from Iceland and the British Isles east across Russia and Siberia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands. There are no breeding records of tufted ducks in North America. Female tufted ducks nest on islands in lakes or on sloped banks of small wetlands in reeds, tufts of grass, or under bushes close to water and lay an average of 9 eggs.

Feeding habits

Tufted ducks dive to feed on roots, seeds, and buds of aquatic plants and clams, snails, aquatic insects, and sometimes amphibians and small fishes. They also skim flies and duckweeds on the water surface.

Video Tufted Duck


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not 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 has a wide distribution in northern Eurasia, from Iceland to Kamchatka and between 45 degrees N and 70 degrees N. European populations winter southwards to North Africa, and only a small number of individuals reach sub-Saharan Africa. The birds of the south-west of the distribution area seem to be sedentary however. In the European Union the main wintering grounds are centred on the Baltic Sea, the Netherlands and the lakes of Central Europe. The population of north-western Europe is totalling 1000000 individuals. The population of Central Europe, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is estimated at 600000 individuals. Both populations have undergone a definite increase during the last decades
Tufted Duck status Least Concern


Partially migratory; winters Central and NE Europe (where chiefly sedentary), Mediterranean basin, N and sub-Saharan Africa, SW USSR, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia (to Philippines) and Japan. Occasionally in Alaska and North America (mainly W Coast)

Distribution map

Tufted Duck distribution range map


Title Food intake rates and habitat segregation of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula and Scaup Aythya marila exploiting Zebra Mussels Dreissena polymorpha.
Author(s): De Leeuw J.J.
Abstract: The foraging skills of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula..[more]..
Source: ARDEA 87 (1): 15-31

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Author(s): R. STEPHENSON et al.
Abstract: Diving behaviour and heart rate were monitored in ..[more]..
Source: J. exp. Biol. 126, 341-359 (1986)

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