Common Pochard

Aythya ferina

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The German name Tafelente ("table duck") refers to its tasty meat. The pochard is a typical diving duck with a compact body and legs set far back on its body. If it wants to fly up from the water, it first has to take a running start. It looks for food, especially aquatic plants, but also small crustaceans, insects, mussels, annelids and small fish, by either diving or dabbling. In their breeding habitat, pochards favour shallow, nutrient-rich lakes, preferably stagnant inland waters with dense riparian vegetation. Fishponds are very popular because of readily available food. Pochards often associate with tufted ducks, but the two do not compete with one another due to their food preferences and periods of activity. They are tolerant of other duck species. Hybridisation with the ferruginous pochard, tufted duck and the greater scaup has been documented. This specimen shows a drake in its breeding plumage: richly-contrasting feathers with a chestnut-brown head, black breast and rump, grey rump and a black bill with a grey-blue bill-band and red iris. Females are more inconspicuous: reddish to greyish brown head and greyish to brown plumage, with a dark transverse ripple on the back, black eyes with pale eye stripes and a pale transverse bill-band. The courtship display of common pochards begins on the wintering grounds and involves many different movements and poses. These are manifested in a so-called social courtship display, but also in pairs. The pair-bond is broken when breeding begins. The female broods and raises the chicks alone. The nests are built close to water or on islands in the water, made of small branches and grass and upholstered with feathers. At daily intervals, 6 to 9 greenish eggs are laid. The chicks hatch after about 25 days and can dive immediately. It takes about 50 to 55 days until they fledge.

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