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

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Red-eyed pochard
African pochard
South African pochard (Netta erythrophthalma. brunnea)
South American pochard (Netta erythrophthalma erythrophthalma)
Rotaugenente (German)
Netta brune (French)
Canard plongeur austral (French)
Zambullidor austral (Spanish)
Pato morado (Spanish)
Netta erythrophthalma. erythrophthalma - South American southern pochard
Netta erythrophthalma brunnea - African southern pochard
Aythya erythrophthalma

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

Aviculture references:
B29, B40, B94, B128.w1

Other References

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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:

  • Southern pochard are hardy, sociable and easy to breed. Both natural close ground cover and ground-level nest boxes should be provided for nesting, eggs being laid mainly April to May.

(B29, B94)

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 20 inches, 51cm (B3); 50-51cm (B1)
Adult weight General 533-1000g (B1)
Male 600-977g (B3); mean 1.8 lbs. (B8).
Female 533-1000g (B3); mean 1.7 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Long, pale blue-grey, black nail (B3, B5, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) Female: Duller grey (B3, B5, B8, B25, B26).
Eyes (Iris) Male Red (B3, B5, B8, B25, B26).
Variations(If present) Female: Brown (B3, B5, B8, B25, B26).
Juvenile Bill Grey (B3, B5).
Eyes (Iris) Brown (B3, B5).

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Adult Male Dark grey (B3, B5, B25, B26)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Dark grey (B3, B5).

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Adult Male Head, neck, breast black with purple gloss and slight peak to crown, underparts black, flanks rich chestnut, upperparts very dark brown. Wings dark brown with secondaries and primaries white, tipped in brown and with more brown on outer primaries. (B3, B5, B25, B26)
Variations (If present) Female:- head reddish brown, darker on crown, white near bill, white throat continues up in crescent to behind eye, breast and underparts buff-brown with some whitish mottling/barring, whitish undertail, upperparts dark brown. Wings as male. (B3, B5, B8, B25)

Male Netta erythrophthalma brunnea:-slightly paler , browner (B8, B26).

Juvenile Similar to female but head browner, facial markings less distinct, body lighter brown (B3, B25).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: crest and upperparts olive-brown with yellow patches on wing and sides; underparts yellow, including face (B1, B5)
Bill: Pale pinkish grey (B5).
Feet: Dark olive-grey (B5).

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Year-round in Africa - timing depends on water availability, therefore mainly March to August in northern areas of Africa, August to December in southern Africa (B1, B3, B8).
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In thick vegetation on ground near water or in emergent vegetation over water, depression lined with grass, reeds, down, some feathers (B1, B3, B8, B25, B26).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 9 (B1, B3, B8)
Range 5-15 (B1, B8); 6-13 (B26); 6-15 (B3).
Egg Description Creamy white to light brown/pink-tinged (B3, B8); size: 54x44mm; weight: 59g (B3).

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26d (in captive birds) (B8); 26-28 days (B1); 23-25days (B5, B26); 26 days (B3).

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About 49-65 days (B8); 56-65 days (B1).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive, head-dip, up-end and dabble (B1, B3, B5, B25).
Newly-hatched Feed on surface among weeds at edge of reed bed (B5).

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building --
Incubation By female only (B3).
Newly-hatched Probably tended only by female, but attendance by male has been suggested (B3, B8).


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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Usually found as pair or in small groups, with larger groups on some waters outside breeding season (B5, B25, B26)
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Temporary pair bond formed before breeding season (B25).

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Mainly vegetarian; seeds, also roots and other parts aquatic plants, grasses, sedges, and aquatic snails, insects (e.g. beetles), crustaceans (B1, B5, B26).

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Insects and vegetation (B5).

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal N. e. brunnea East, central and south Africa, from Namibia, Zambia, south-east and central eastern Zaire, Uganda, Kenya south to South Africa. Reaches Angola, north central, northeastern Zaire, southeast Sudan, Ethiopia, southern Somalia (B1, B19).

N. e. erythrophthalma Locally in South America: Colombia, northwestern Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, eastern Brazil.; reaches northwestern Argentina, northern Chile (B1, B19).

Disperse in dry season, with south African birds migrating north as far as Kenya (B1).

Occasional and Accidental




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Large, deep, permanent fresh and brackish lakes to 2400m in Africa; shallow marshes, pools, lakes with abundant aquatic vegetation up to 3650m (South America) (B1, B5, B19, B25).

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Intraspecific variation

Two subspecies recognised: Netta erythrophthalma erythropthalma in South America, and the slightly paler , browner Netta erythrophthalma brunnea in Africa (B8, B26).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened but severe declines in South America (B1, B8)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Loss of habitat to agriculture (B1, B8)

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Captive Populations

Netta erythrophthalma brunnea well represented in collections; but Netta erythrophthalma erythropthalma is not (B8).

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