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Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)

spanwidth min.: 67 cm

spanwidth 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.: 55 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 8

eggs max.: 15



Physical characteristics


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.




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.


Other details


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




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.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 2,500,000-3,800,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




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.




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.


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Taken on April 25, 2015