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How To Spot The Red-Crested Pochard

Eschenbach is back with more bird spotting tips and this time, we're learning about the red-crested pochard.

|  Animals / Wildlife
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Red-Crested Pochard

 

The red-crested pochard was not a common bird in Europe for a long time but since the beginning of the 20th century, it’s become more present. Here's how you can spot it. 

 

Appearance

Males have a very characteristic look as they have a big and thick orange-brown head. The powerful beak and the eyes have an intense red colour while the chest, belly and tail are black, contrasting with the white flanks and the bright brown back.

Females are mainly brown and the back is slightly darker than the flanks. The upper head also has a more intense brown colour. They can be easily identified thanks to their bright white cheeks.

During summer, the male looks similar to the female but is still recognisable thanks to its red and powerful beak.

 

Occurrence

The red-crested pochard was originally mainly found in Asia, any appearance in Europe was a rather exotic event. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that it settled at Lake Constance in Switzerland as well as various locations in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries.
It is well-suited for still waters (lake and ponds) that have many aquatic plants.

 

Behaviour

They feed on aquatic plants and dive underwater in order to get their food (their diet mainly consists of musk grass, hornwort and milfoil). They prefer rather shallow waters since they cannot remain underwater for more than 30 seconds. 

Northern breeding flocks are migratory birds and spend the winter in areas like Egypt, India and Mediterranean countries. The Central European birds, however, often stay during winter, with several thousands of wintering pochards regularly observed on Lake Constance.

During the courtship in autumn and winter, the male often dives with food in its beak and offers it to the female. The nest is built on the ground, well hidden in thick vegetation, and the female lays six to twelve eggs. The eggs are incubated for a short month by the female only while the male stays nearby and warns its partner of potential dangers. An interesting side note, two females can sometimes share the same nest, too. 

 

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