Common Pochard – Aythya ferina


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genre: Aythya
  • Species: Aythya ferina

Identification characters

It is a medium-sized diving duck. The duck has a conical appearance, a long neck and beak. The wings have grey, blurred stripes. The nesting male has a deep brown head, black bill, reddish eyes, glossy black breast, light grey flanks and back, black hindquarters. In the eclipse the breast and hindquarters dark grey-brown and the head faded reddish. Female has grey-brown body and reddish-brown eyes Show orbital ring and a line behind the eye. Juveniles resemble the adult female, have olive-yellow eyes, lacking the line behind the eye.


The species has a large breeding range, covering central and southern Europe, western and central Asia and wintering in southern Europe, Asia Minor, northern Africa and southern Asia. The European population is 397,000-570,000 individuals.

In Romania it is a relatively common breeding species in areas with suitable habitat, being found in Dobrogea, Muntenia, Oltenia, Banat, Moldova and Transylvania. In winter, important flocks are confined to the Delta, the Danube and the rivers and lakes bordering the country’s large rivers. In Romania there are 3,050-12,315 breeding pairs, with a decreasing trend. Between 20,000 and 40,000 individuals can be observed during the passage. A total of 14,549 to 35,738 winter here.

Living environment and biology of the species

The species can be found in a wide variety of wetlands. It prefers fresh or brackish lakes of at least several hectares in size, 1.5-2m deep, with rich submergent vegetation and surrounded by dense reed beds. In winter and during migration, it can also be found on reservoirs.

It is an omnivorous species, consuming mainly submerged vegetation but also aquatic insects and small crustaceans. Food is obtained mainly by diving. Strongly gregarious outside the nesting season. Males begin to associate in small flocks from the second half of May, when females are still on the nest. and nest near water on the ground in dense vegetation.

May also nest on the wetland, nesting above water level on the solid substrate formed by the lying reed stalks. The nesting period lasts from mid-April to early May and mid-June. Only one clutch is laid each year, consisting of 8-10 elliptical greenish-grey eggs, which the female incubates alone for 25 days. The chicks are nidifugous, leave the nest a few hours after hatching and are cared for only by the female.

Threats and conservation measures

The species is threatened by habitat loss and alteration, pollution and poor water management, hunting, mortality from fishing gear, anthropogenic disturbance. It is recommended to respect restrictions in riparian and coastal areas, maintain wetland vegetation at an ecologically optimal level, manage waste and wastewater in the area of important habitats for the species, use selective and low toxicity agrochemicals, avoid the use of treated seeds in the vicinity of wetlands, manage water levels in reservoirs according to the needs of the species, creating islands to reduce the risk of predation and to help the species breed in artificial or semi-natural wetlands, banning hunting and poaching, limiting the use of fishing nets to prevent birds from being accidentally caught, inventorying breeding areas, identifying important migration, feeding and crowding areas for the species, promoting studies on the biology of the species.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests – Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 144.
    Svensson (text and maps), 2017, Guide to bird identification. Europe and the Mediterranean area, translation and adaptation in Romanian: Romanian Ornithological Society, Emanuel Ștefan Baltag, Sebastian Bugariu, Alida Barbu.
    Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing, Bucharest, p. 135.
Follow Us