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< >  Netta rufina - Red-crested pochard (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Red-crested duck
Kolbenente (German)
Nette rousse (French)
Brante roussâtre (French)
Pato Colorado (Spanish)
Zambullidor de cresta roja (Spanish)
Krooneened (Dutch)
Rödhuvad dykand (Swedish)
Fuligula rufina

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Other references: 

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B31, B40, B94, B96, B97B128.w1, B129
D1, D8

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Pochards are diving ducks which spend most of their time on water, and are ungainly on land. They are generally hardy, sociable and easy to maintain in captivity. They should be kept with deep water available for diving, three to seven feet suggested (B29), or at least half the area 60cm and preferably one metre deep (D1), with shallow sloping banks for easy exit from the water, also islands, good marginal vegetation and loafing areas. Water providing a good supply of natural animal and vegetable food is preferred.
  • N.B. The three Netta species (narrow-billed pochards) are less specialised, and in comparison to the Aythya species (broad-billed pochards) dive much less frequently, spend more time on land and are closer in behaviour to the Dabbling Ducks.
  • These ducks may be kept in mixed collections with dabbling ducks, including smaller species such as teal. They should be fed wheat in water, encouraging their natural diving behaviour. Pellets should also be fed. They may breed better if a group rather than single pair kept, as this allows their normal group displaying activity.
  • 12x12x14 inch (30x30x35cm) nest box with 5 inch (12.5cm) entrance hole suggested, placed under cover at the edge of the pond (B128.w1).

(B29, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Red-crested pochards are winter-hardy. They may be kept in mixed collections, although drakes may pursue smaller females. Maintenance in small groups rather than pairs may be preferable. Adults may be kept full-winged and will usually stay. Provision of a reasonable water area at least 60-80cm deep is suggested, and a good grazing area. They may be fed grain, pellets, greenfood, gass and bread, with grain offered in the water.
  • These ducks breed readily; natural ground cover and ground-level nest boxes should be provided. Eggs are laid mainly April to May. They are good brooders and rearers, ducklings may also be hand-reared easily, but may be aggressive to other ducklings. They should be fed starter crumbs, duckweed and other greenfood. Ducklings may be prone to feather-picking; this may be less of a problem if they are provided with plenty of greenfood to peck at and to move them from the brooder to an outside pen as soon as possible
  • Hybridisation of this species is common; hybrids have reported with Netta peposaca - Rosy-billed pochard, also with numerous Anas spp. and Aythya spp..

(B7, B31, B40, B94, B96, B97, B129).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: L 11.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 22 inches, 58cm (B3); 53-58cm (B1).
Adult weight General 830-1320g (B1)
Male 900-1170g average 1135g (B3).
Female 830-1320g average 967g (B3).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Red.
Variations (If present) Female: grey-brown with pink tip
Eyes (Iris) Male Red.
Variations(If present) Female: red-brown.
Juvenile Bill Dark grey.
Eyes (Iris) Pale brown.

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Adult Male Orange to red-pink.
Variations (If present) Female: grey-pink.
Juvenile Fleshy.

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Adult Male Head and throat rusty orange, hindneck, lower neck, breast, underparts and uppertail coverts black, flanks white, upperparts and tail brown. Wings brown with white leading edge, secondaries and primaries white with dark tips.
Variations (If present) Female: head and neck pale grey, upper face from just below eyes, through to crown and down nape. Breast, flanks and upperparts brown, darkest on upperparts, abdomen and undertail coverts white. Wing as male but without white leading edge.

Eclipse: Similar to female.

Juvenile Similar to female, but darker and underparts mottled.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts sepia-brown, pale yellow bar on wing and patches on sides and base of tail, underparts whitish.
Bill: Dark brown with pink tip.
Feet: Dark grey.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins April/May.
No. of Clutches One, but re-nests if clutch lost.

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Nest placement and structure

,On ground in thick vegetation near water’s edge. Constructed from roots, twigs, leaves with thick downy lining.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 8-10 (B1)
Range 6-14 (B1). More by dump-nesting.
Egg Description Cream-yellow or pale green.

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26-28 days (B1, B8).

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45-50 days (B1), but up to 77 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males One, occasionally two years old.
Females One, occasionally two years old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive, upend, head-dip, and surface dabbling.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests or in loose groups. Built by female.
Incubation By female.
Newly-hatched Tended by female, brooded when small.

May stay with female for 11 weeks or more.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious except when breeding.
Inter-specific Eggs are also laid in the nests of other duck species.

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Sexual Behaviour

Seasonal pair bond.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian. Roots, seeds, greenparts of submerged plants, particularly Chaga also small amounts aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, small fish.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Scattered through western Europe, from southern and eastern Spain and southern France east. Main population from Black Sea and Turkey eastward to north-western China.

London: In the London Area, "rare autumn and winter visitor, with its true status clouded by frequent escapes." Individuals seen on various lakes, gravel pits, the River Thames at Hammersmith, The Wetland Centre (WWT) at Barnes, etc. (J322.65.w1)

Partly migratory, joining sedentary population in Mediterranean basin and to south-western areas of former USSR, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, south-east Asia.

Occasional and Accidental




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Large, deep fresh and brackish, lakes and lagoons with abundant bordering vegetation, in open country inland, sometimes on river deltas estuaries, other sheltered coasts.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not threatened and fairly stable but patchy distribution.

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Habitat loss in west of range.

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Captive Populations

Common in collections.

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