Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

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In Germany, the tufted duck is now the second most common duck after the mallard. It owes its name to the long crest, known from herons, which the drake sports in both its breeding and basic plumage. The drake's breeding plumage is black with white flanks, the female's is rich dark brown with lighter flanks; by contrast, her crest is short. Characteristic for both sexes are the yellow eyes and the light grey-blue bill with black tip. Its habitat is found in Central Europe to Siberia on nutrient-rich lakes and watercourses with few aquatic plants, as well as on shorelines. They are often seen in urban parks. In summer, a distinct moult migration takes place between waters with dense riparian vegetation. With the exception of the breeding season, tufted ducks are very social birds and can be found in large groups or flocks. The nest is built on the ground with various plant parts, which is why dense vegetation close to the bank is important for the breeding site. The female lays 6 to 12 eggs, often scattered in the nests of other females. The chicks are nidifugous and fend for themselves from the beginning. Orphaned chicks are often adopted. Tufted ducks are diving ducks. This means that they reach their food (mainly shells and snails, but also insects, crustaceans, plants and seeds) by diving and not by burrowing. They are often more compact in build and sit deeper in the water. Unlike dabbling ducks, diving ducks often lack speculum feathers. This is an area that contrasts clearly with the rest of the plumage, often the secondary wing feathers. It is also clearly visible in basic plumage, when swimming and in flight. It often plays a role in mock preening during courtship. Finches or parrots also have a speculum of this kind.

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