Pochard (Red-Crested) / Netta rufina

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The red-crested pochard is the largest of the pochards. Red-crested pochards are the only waterfowl to engage in ritualised courtship feeding when the male dives and brings the female food offerings.

The Red-crested pochard is a large diving duck which breeds in lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and Central Asia. They winter in India and Africa.

The adult male is unmistakable. It has a rounded orange head, red bill and black breast. The female is pale brown, with darker back and crown and white face, as seen in the image below.

They are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as other pochards.

They feed mainly by diving or dabbling and eat roots, seeds and the green parts of aquatic plants. They also take also some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish. Typically, they ‘upend’ for food, rather than dive, more than most diving ducks.

Nest sites are often close to water or on floating mats of aquatic vegetation. The nest is made of roots, twigs and leaves, lined with a thick layer of down. Females lay 6-12 greenish eggs which are incubated by the female alone for 26-28 days.