With its distinctive bright chestnut head, contrasting with grey back and body and black breast, a Common Pochard drake is a handsome duck. It is one of the most familiar of wildfowl in the British Isles, with as many as 75,000 wintering here. Most of these are birds from north-east Europe or Russia, for our breeding population is estimated at no more than 700 pairs.
Pochard are classic diving ducks, with a stocky build, short neck and legs set well back on the body. They find nearly all their food by diving, and unlike Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, they are predominately vegetarian. Highly sociable birds, they are invariably found in flocks outside the breeding season, and these can number many thousands. The drakes tend to be hardier than the ducks, with the latter migrating farther south for the winter, so wintering flocks in the UK are typically dominated by drakes.
Unaggressive and easy to keep in a mixed-species flock in captivity, their main requirement is for clean and reasonably deep water.
The Common Pochard lays her clutch of around eight green-grey eggs late in the spring. Incubation takes 25 days, and the young can become independent as soon as three weeks after hatching.
Fox, A. D. et al. (2016) Wildfowl 66, WWT. Recent changes in the abundance of Common Pochard Aythya ferina breeding in Europe.
Harteman Wildfowl Aviaries Common Pochard