British Waterfowl Association

Tufted Duck

pair of Tufted Duck swimming
Tufted Duck pair — Edward Giles
Tufted Duck male sitting on a log
Tufted Drake — Ian Gereg

Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck are popular in wildfowl collections but should only be kept where ponds are suitable for diving. Tufted Duck are the only scaup with a long crest at the back of their neck; very pronounced on drakes, less so on females. The drake is particularly attractive with green and purple hues of the head contrasting with a bright yellow eye.

Tufted Drake — BWA

Tufted Duck will become confiding in a collection. The drake has a soft repeated whistle whilst the female has a slightly harsher call.

Their wild habitat is fresh, slow-moving water with good surrounding cover, preferably reedbed. They often frequent ponds, lakes and reservoirs in flocks. They like to nest near or actually over the water, usually in reeds.

This species readily hybridises with other members of the Aythya genus and also the Bucephala (Goldeneyes) and some dabbling ducks.

An orphaned Tufted Duckling (right) appreciating the company of a Mallard — Zoe Brodie-James

Tufted Ducks will sometimes use baskets or nest boxes; they nest late and with varied success. They lay a clutch of 8–10 eggs which hatch at 23–28 days. Parent rearing can be very successful. The young are very independent at an early stage. Wild birds take a lot of insects as ducklings, so they will do best if small high-protein pellets are added to their starter ration.