┬ęDerek Moore


┬ęTom Marshall


Scientific name: Aythya ferina
The once-common pochard is now under threat because its populations are declining rapidly. The UK is an important winter destination for the pochard, with 48,000 birds visiting our wetlands and coasts.

Species information


Length: 44-48cm
Wingspan: 77cm
Weight: 930g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Listed as Vulnerable on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

When to see

January to December


The pochard is a diving duck and feeds on plant seeds, waterweed, snails and other aquatic invertebrates below the water's surface. Most of the birds in the UK come from northern and eastern Europe for the winter, with just a few pairs staying to nest.

How to identify

A plump, grey diving duck, a male pochard has a chestnut head and a black chest and rear end. The female is a darker, duller grey-brown.


A rare nesting bird, but much more common in the winter when it can be found in large numbers on lakes, reservoirs, flooded gravel pits and estuaries around the country.

Did you know?

As with many duck species, male (or 'drake') pochard moult their colourful feathers when the breeding season is over, and go into 'eclipse' plumage - a mottled grey-brown, just like the female (or 'hen'). This helps to camouflage them from predators.