The common pochard
Writer: Isaac Cohen | Editor: Ye Shangqing | From: Shenzhen Daily
A common pochard is seen at Shenzhen Bay in Nanshan District.
The common pochard
The common pochard (Aythya ferina), also known as the European pochard, is a medium-sized diving duck found in Europe and Asia. It grows to about 55 centimeters in length and can weigh up to 1.3 kilograms. Males have a distinctive red head and neck, with a black breast and a grayish brown body, while females are less colorful, with a brown head and body and a darker bill. Both sexes have rounded heads and a steep forehead, giving them a distinctive appearance.
The common pochard is a migratory bird that breeds in northern and central Europe and Asia. During the winter, it travels long distances, migrating southwards to the Mediterranean, North Africa, and western Asia. Our city has had the pleasure in past years to receive a small group of this fascinating bird.
This beautiful pochard can stay underwater for up to 30 seconds. It is a social bird often found in small groups or large flocks during the winter months. During the breeding season, however, it becomes more territorial and aggressive towards other birds.
It is primarily herbivorous, feeding on various aquatic plants and seeds. It also eats small invertebrates such as insects, snails and crustaceans; during the winter, it may also feed on grains.
Common pochards breed in wetland areas such as lakes, ponds, and marshes, where males attract a mate by performing a display flight, during which he raises his head and tail feathers and calls loudly. Females then select a nesting site, usually in dense vegetation near the water’s edge, where they lay up to 10 eggs per clutch, which both parents incubate for about a month. The chicks are precocial, meaning they are well-developed and can swim and feed themselves shortly after hatching.
The common pochard is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its populations have declined in many parts of its range due to habitat loss, hunting and pollution. In some areas, it has also been affected by the spread of invasive species, such as the zebra mussel, which can reduce food availability and breeding sites. Conservation efforts on its behalf are needed, including creating protected areas and restoring wetland habitats.