Red-crested pochard

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Red-crested pochard
Netta rufina (Red-crested Pochard) Male, London Wetland Centre - Diliff.jpg
Male
Netta rufina (female), London Wetland Centre, UK - Diliff.jpg
Female
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Aythyinae
Genus: Netta
Kaup, 1829
Species: N. rufina
Binomial name
Netta rufina
(Pallas, 1773)

The red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) is a large diving duck. Its breeding habitat is lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and Central Asia, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. It is somewhat migratory, and northern birds winter further south into north Africa. The adult male is unmistakable. It has a rounded orange head, red bill and black breast. The flanks are white, the back brown, and the tail black. The female is mainly a pale brown, with a darker back and crown and a whitish face. Eclipse males are like females but with red bills. They are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as common pochards. They feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants, and typically upend for food more than most diving ducks.

A wheezing veht call can be given by the male. Series of hoarse vrah-vrah-vrah calls can also be heard from females.

Red-crested pochards build nests by the lakeside among vegetation and lay 8-12 pale green eggs. The birds' status in the British Isles is much confused because there have been many escapes and deliberate releases over the years, as well as natural visitors from the continent. However, it is most likely that they are escapees that are now breeding wild and have built up a successful feral population. They are most numerous around areas of England including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. The red-crested pochard is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

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