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Conservation status: Amber

In winter and spring, male pochards are very distinctive. They have a bright reddish-brown head, a black breast and tail and a pale grey body. Females are more easily confused with other species; they are brown with a greyish body and pale cheeks. However, during the 'eclipse' – when ducks grow new feathers – the males look very similar to the females. They become more camouflaged so that they don't draw the attention of predators.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Aythya ferina

Family

Swans, ducks and geese (Anatidae)

Where to see them

Good places to look in summer are open lakes and gravel pits in lowland eastern England and Scotland. They're much easier to see in winter across the whole of the UK, often on larger lakes and even on estuaries.

When to see them

Pochards are most common in the UK during autumn and winter, when large numbers fly from eastern Europe and Russia to escape the bitterly cold weather there. They're quite rare breeding birds in this country.

What they eat

Plants and seeds, snails, small fish and insects.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-350-630 pairs48,000 birds-

Distribution

Key

Audio

Herman van Oosten, Xeno-canto

Similar birds

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