Lee Richardson Zoo

Red-crested Pochard

Order: Anseriformes - Ducks, geese and swans, and screamers
Family:Anatidae - Ducks, geese, swans.

Scientific Name:  Netta rufina


Description:Length is around 20-26 inches. Wingspan is 34- 36 inches. Weight is 2-3 lbs. Males produce a “sneeze” like call when displaying and females produce both a “purring” call and stronger “gock” call. Male Plumage: The face and crest feathers of the males are chestnut in color while the back of the head, chest and lower back are black in coloration. The upper wings are brown with a few light gray feathers except for a white patch wrapping around the wing joint and extending down towards the belly. The bill and iris are both a red color while the feet of the male are yellowish orange. Female Plumage: Head feathers are dark brown from eyes up along the skull and back towards the neck while the sides of the face down through the neck are a gray brown coloration. The body of the female is covered by brownish gray feathers and the wings resemble the same coloration of the males; a brownish hue. The color of the iris is brown, the bill is a grayish blue, sometimes turning reddish at the tip, and the legs and feet are a dull yellow. Juvenile Plumage: Closely resembles the plumage of a female but young males quickly start to develop their crest and coloration associated to adult males.


Home Range:  They have been introduced to the United Kingdom and their breeding range covers the European Union to China with almost half of the population breeding in Europe. During fall, large groups of the red- crested pochards can be seen in Central Asia. Wintering ranges include India and into northern Africa.
Habitat Type:  Historically preferred nesting near brackish water but the current population has switched to utilizing fresh water marshes and reed beds to avoid growing populations of yellow- legged gulls and their associated predators.


Reproductive Habits: Sexual maturity is reached within the first year of life but the first nesting event for an individual might not occur until the second breeding season. Red-crested pochards begin to develop a monogamous pair bond in early winter and the bonds are reinforced during spring migration. Once at their final destination the pairs can construct their nest on dry land, at the water’s edge or on floating masses of aquatic plants. Nest creation can start as early as late March with 6- 14 eggs being laid in April. Once the nest is established and eggs are laid the males will abandon their mate who will attend the eggs until they hatch in June or July.


Diet in Wild: Aquatic plants such as musk grass, hornwort, pondweeds, mare’s-tail and milfoil


Diet in Zoo:  Cracked corn, layer ration, and naturally growing plants in Marie Osterbuhr Aviary.


General Info:  Even though these birds are closely tied to local waterways they are shallow divers and remain under for less than 10 seconds. The physical diving limitations and the beak structure differentiate these birds from the true pochards of the genus Aythya.



P.A. Johnsgard. Ducks, Geese and Swans of the World. 1978. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln and London. pp.274- 277. Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. 4 Aug. 2016. Web. http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Netta_rufina/ IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 4 Aug. 2016. Web. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22680348/0 Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. File: Netta rufina (Red-crested Pocahrd) Male, London Wetland Centre- Diliff.jpg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Netta_rufina_(Red-crested_Pochard)_Male,_London_Wetland_Centre_-_Diliff.jpg Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. File: Netta rufina (Red-crested Pocahrd) Female, London Wetland Centre- Diliff.jpg. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Netta_rufina_(female),_London_Wetland_Centre,_UK_-_Diliff.jpg